BAP103 Motivation and Engagement for SLIFE

Motivation is everything.  If we don’t have engagement, what do we really have?  We might have fake readers & students who are doing the bare minimum.  But how would their learning change if they were engaged and intrinsically motivated to learn even when they are not with you?

I’m working around the US and Canada training, coaching, and modeling.  I’m seeing some amazing things for new arrival students.  This podcast is in response to feedback I’m getting from newcomer teachers I support.  MANY are telling me:

“I’m struggling with engagement.”

Well, we have solutions!  You listen to this show right here or in your favorite podcast app:

Listen to “BAP103 Motivation & Engagement for SLIFE” on Spreaker.

You may prefer to watch this show on YouTube or right here:

And you can always just read through the notes below.

In this episode, I am standing on the shoulders of Dr. Lora Beth Escalante, who wrote “Motivating ELLs,” Researchers like Daniel Pink, and also the work of Larry Ferlazzo who is a practitioner, blogger, and author of many books on the subject. In fact, I’m following 4 things recommended by Larry Ferlazzo in this article.

Larry has shared this in more than one article.  Check out more of his articles, books, and posts here.  In the podcast, I mention the good news and the bad news about motivation.   The bad news is that we can’t MAKE students be motivated.  The great news is, just as Sir Ken Robinson tells us, we can create conditions where things should grow.

And we know what we need in our “garden” for optimal motivation conditions.

According to Ferlazzo, these are the 4 things that help students become intrinsically motivated:

  • Relatedness

  • Relevancy

  • Competence

  • Autonomy

In the show, I talk about each of these things and how we can foster them for multilingual learners.  While this applies to all students, I am always specifically speaking to the teacher of SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education).  Here are some of the things I mentioned for each:

Relatedness

Relationships!  Does my teacher respect me?  Do the other students respect me?  How do we get along?  How do I feel as a person?  Is my culture appreciated?

Here is a show on creating a social contract if you feel that your classroom needs a reboot on how we treat each other.

Also, don’t underestimate how volunteers can support a sense of relatedness.  Don’t have volunteers, ask your principal or PTA to send out this video to the community:

Relevancy

Ask yourself if students understand WHY you’re asking them to do _______.  Whatever you want them to do, do they see the relevance for them and their lives?  As an example, I want students’ eyes to go across text when things are read aloud to them.  I need to explain to them why that is.  For example:

If I am reading aloud to emergent readers, I want them to track the print with their fingers when they are first gaining the language.  I want them to understand that if they track the print with their eyes 👀, they will see high-frequency words over and over again.  This will support their decoding skills in a powerful way.  They need to understand that 1/2 of all print is high-frequency words and gaining them will impact their language and literacy development dramatically.  They need to read WITH me.  We can absolutely chunk the text and help them negotiate meaning and be analytical about the text.  But as emergent readers, they need to track the print to get more high-frequency words.  This is the WHY.

Here is another example of relevancy from Kim Thyberg on Twitter:

I love how Kim is teaching grade-level concepts (claims/evidence/reasoning) but also helping her students understand how quickly they can begin to decode text as they gain these high-frequency words.

Competence

If I have a sense of competence, it means that I feel myself getting better at this activity.  Before we think our kids lack grit and give up too easily, let’s remember that these same students will fail over and over again at video games.  Why?  Perhaps because they’ve had a little win at that level.  They feel that they can figure out the level.. that they can master it.  They don’t have mastery YET, but they are improving.

We can also think about ourselves and something we are trying to learn to do.  Perhaps you want to bake your grandmother’s cookie recipe.  The first time t

hey don’t look very good but they taste pretty close.  So you try again.  You try again because the small successes in your attempts give you a sense of competence.  You feel that you can master it because you had some small wins.

When we think of our students who are not engaged or motivated… let’s think back to the last time they had an academic win.

There are many ways to give SLIFE little wins.  Examples include:

Showing them growth every time we speak to them.  Using any book and asking them to identify words or sounds of letters and pointing out any growth.  I tried to do this every time I had them in a small group.

QSSSA is also a great strategy that gives your entire class an opportunity to have a win.  See Ep 26 for more on QSSSA.

Autonomy

Autonomy means choice.  We have seen many teachers sharing choice boards lately and as you can imagine, this leads to more engagement from learners.  All of us want some choice in what we do.  So perhaps we offer choices in how they participate in a task.  ie: with a buddy, on their own, with the teacher:

We can also offer choice in how they reflect on what they read:

But one of the most important places they need autonomy is in WHAT they read during free voluntary reading time.  We only had a few minutes a day to read for pleasure.  But I was always emphasizing that they needed to read on their own whenever they could.  For this to happen, they need LOTS of things to choose from.  If you chose to read something, because it is of interest to YOU, you’re less likely to fake read or abandon the text.  Stephen Krashen tells us that free voluntary reading is key to language acquisition.  And YES, our SLIFE can read… with support!

What can SLIFE, who have low to no literacy in their first language read? A lot!

There are many things they can choose from.  Examples include:

  • Re-reading things we wrote in class together for fluency. Explain why this will boost their ability to decode text.
  • A book they chose from the library or your classroom. We can show them how to negotiate meaning from any piece of text with technology (Google Images, Google Translate, Chrome Read Aloud Extensions)
  • Ergo-Hi-Lo Ebooks  These are high-interest, easy-to-read books that you can print or have e-versions.
  • If you have the budget, get a library of Saddleback Hi-Lo readers! Saddleback books are my favorite Hi-Low readers if you have the budget for materials.
  • A top tip is  www.newsinlevels.com.  I did a show about it here.  That free website is so important once the students understand how to level up within the same article.

Two Examples of Highly Engaging Activities that Boost Literacy & Language Acquisition

🌟NEWS IN LEVELS🌟

News in Levels offers so much choice.  This is not a little bit of choice… it is a TON of choice. It requires no login and they can choose from current or hundreds of prior articles.  Here is how it relates to what we are talking about today:

  • Relatedness:  I will conference with new students and show them how to use it. I have faith in them that they can quickly learn the skills to make this meaningful.  They can do it with a buddy or me or as a whole class for the first few times.  I want to know their interests so I ask about what they are choosing to read about… RELATIONSHIPS & HOW WE REGARD THEM.
  • Relevancy:  The link I am giving you explains to you and to the students HOW to use it and WHY it works for older emergent readers. I even made a quick 5 min video to show students how to use the site.  THIS OFFERS RELEVANCY for using this site and because they chose what they read about, and it is the actual news, it is by nature relevant to them.
  • Competence: If they follow my advice, they will go through all three levels of an article before they move on to a different new story.  They should be able to master level 1 with support (it is read aloud to them from YouTube, it includes images, they can use Google images & Google translate as well… they can even get support from others).  When they go to level 2 & level 3 it is just about exposure to more complex language.  They feel themselves getting better with word recognition the more they do of this.  It offers an opportunity to level up, small wins, A SENSE OF COMPETENCE.
  • Autonomy:  As I mentioned above… this site offers a great deal of choice.  The students need to have the autonomy to choose what they read and this site offers hundreds of articles.

CHOICE PROJECTS 

I follow Noa Daniel and her Building Outside the Blocks philosophy has made a huge difference in my classroom.

  • Relatedness:  I model a choice project presentation.  Students learn about me and get the message that I want to learn about them.  All students learn about each other and throughout the year we are learning about each other and reinforcing appreciation for our diversity.  Choice projects offer voice. RELATIONSHIPS
  • Relevancy:  Students choose what to present about. They are RELEVANT by nature.
  • Competence: They practice, practice, practice what they will say.  They read & re-read & re-read their scripts for their presentation and what they turn in.  We can point out their progress in identifying and recognizing English words and sounds. This leads to a SENSE OF COMPETENCE.
  • Autonomy:  Students choose what they want to present about and they choose a day during the grading period that they want to present. There are many opportunities for autonomy.

Here is a video of a newcomer presenting her Personal Playlist project.  More projects with resources can be found here also check out Noa’s site.

I hope this has been helpful.  Shout out to all the teachers who are collaborating with me this year. I love all I learn with them!

Please take good care!

❤️, Carol

PS:  Here are resources including a free chapter download for DIYpd4MLs book:

Other resources I used for this show:

 

 

BAP052 Aging Out & What We Do Every Day

Here are some answers to FAQ’s on working with SLIFE!  

Listen to “BAP052 – Aging Out & What We Do Every Day” on Spreaker.

You can read the short responses below or listen to this show with more explanation right here.  Actually, as of the publication of this post, the podcast is available in all podcast apps.  Hope you will subscribe!

THANK YOU Metro Nashville Public Schools and Beaufort County School District for offering the Boosting Achievement Book Study to your teachers.  Megan Trcka in Nashville, Alisa Rhodes and Bethanne Barner in South Carolina supported some amazing teachers who were collaborating on their own time to find more learning about working with students who have interrupted or minimal education.

If you’d like to see one of these video chats, you are welcome to watch the Q&A and the positive outcomes shared by McMurray Middle School.

Here are a few of the questions I didn’t answer in my last few video chats:

  1. In the last section of Boosting Achievement, I noticed the emphasis placed on independent reading time in the classroom.  I also noticed the suggestion to slowly build up to 60 minutes. I understand how beneficial this is, but do you have any ideas or suggestions to show that this is beneficial enough to take away from other possibly worthy activities in order to allow for this extended amount of time? 
    • My Answer: This all depends on how much time you have and what your role is for the child.  So if you are the reading teacher, and you have 60 minutes with students, I would absolutely build stamina for sustained silent reading (SSR) of up to 60 minutes.  For example, when I was teaching middle school, I was the SLIFE teacher and I had 4 hours with the students every day.  Reading for 60 minutes was not something I would do every class period, but we did have SSR every day to settle down and from time to time we went longer periods of time.  On occasion, we did read for 45-60 minutes.  More recently, in high school, I did not have the luxury of that much class time.  We STILL had SSR when we first came into class and we worked up to at least 20 minutes. I also counseled students to realize how important it was to read for 60 minutes a day (for several reasons) and I made sure they had resources to do that at home. They can read with newsinlevels.com, they can read what we wrote together, they can read in their native language, they need to be reading, reading, reading.  As the year goes on we encourage more and more English reading during SSR and we show students how many English sight words they gain and other benefits of reading for longer periods of time.
    • To the part of your question about other worthy activities, Shared Reading, Shared Writing and Oral Language Practice (Language Experience Approach is an example of how you can do all three) are those worthy activities that I feel have to happen in every class.  I feel these MUST happen with students so we can’t spend all of our time in free voluntary reading.  But we partner with these older learners to realize they must do the SSR on their own to help close their gaps.
  2. If you only have 30 minutes twice a week, what is the one that you absolutely must do with those students?
    • As mentioned above, I advocate for Shared Reading, Shared Writing and Oral Language Practice every time I meet with students.  You can do it in less than 30 minutes, your shared writing pieces just happen over more than one class.  See LEA episode to see how to do it and just break it up over your different meeting times.
    • Even if you only have 30 minutes twice a week, I would have students settle down with a choice book.  You might only read for the first 5 minutes but it gives you so much benefit.  Students can share why they liked the book, you can connect to grade level standards like genre, authors craft, and it gives you a chance to remind your students of why they need to be reading ANYTHING for several minutes a day.

  1. How do you deal with an 18-year old that enters and has to take the end of course exam, has 6th-grade education, will age out before he can complete school? What do you focus on?  AND
  2. How do you overcome the difficulty meeting grade level expectations for growth and proficiency with your lowest level and SIFE students?
    • I’m addressing question 3 & 4 together.  If I’m the Newcomer English Language Development teacher, see above.  I’m doing the same things I do for all children.  I make sure we empower kids with the awareness of how quickly their language and literacy can come.  It is CRITICAL that we don’t feel that the child is expected to do this all on their own.  *WE* need to change and offer more comprehensible input and use more sheltered strategies.  But we do make sure the student knows how to advance their language and literacy when they are not with us.
    • Please make sure the student understands that the standardized assessments are not the finish line.  Also, make sure they realize that when they age out.. that isn’t the finish line either.  Find out what their long term goals are and help them see how, with community partners, we can help them get to those goals.  Our building is one step closer to their goals.
    • For content teachers:  PLEASE teach them as much of your content as possible.  Don’t feel that they need to gain proficiency in English or literacy before they can comprehend your content and interact with it.  YOU are the only one that will teach that child biology or social studies or math.  They need to learn as much of your content as possible so they can continue to move forward, even if they fail your class and age out.  Please make sure you or someone is collaborating with that child to realize that they can continue to gain math skills and eventually master the content.  Their language and literacy will also come along if they dont’ give up.  We all need to look at the long game and help that child move forward toward a better life.
  3. Do you ever have bad days in your classroom too? It always seems so nice!
    • Bitmoji ImageMANY bad days.  It’s real life over here.  But I’m grateful for more nice days than bad days.  If you watch that Language Experience Approach video you’ll see a big fail.  A child falls asleep in front of me! And I have had plenty of days where I brought my bad mood to the class or things were not on track.  We take those in stride and just keep trying to improve.

Bitmoji ImageBut having a social contract made ALL the difference in the world for our classroom climate. Here is a post on that.  Thanks for that question.  🙂

THANK YOU so much for reading and or listening!  This show and notes are an important place for me to reflect. You’re helping my journey of learning and for that I am grateful.

HUGS,

Carol

 

WHERE CAN WE MEET UP??

Summer 2019

I’m the keynote speaker for #MABEMI19 coming up in May. 

Featured Speaker at the Sanibel Leadership Conference in Florida on June 20th

FALL of 2019 – Stay tuned for dates & links:

Coming to Colorado as a featured speaker for COTESOL

I’ll be in Missouri for the MELL Conference in October

I’ll be the keynote speaker for BCTESOL in British Colombia in the fall.

 

 

They Can Absolutely Read That.

Picture a newcomer you know this year. Remember the beginning of school when we were all freaking out that these kids spoke NO English?  I was so worried about how in the world they would survive in a comprehensive high school. I am every year!  As always I had to remind myself that they can learn very, very quickly.

Well, we are so proud of those kiddos who are not only surviving, they are thriving!

In the first few weeks of school, I showed someone the “I Don’t Know” poster and explained that this is critical for new English learners and students with interrupted or minimal education.  I explained that teaching kids what to say instead of “IDK” is a great practice for all students in every content classroom.  This is Step 1 of Seidlitz Education‘s Seven Steps – a fantastic training on sheltered instruction.

This poster is helpful so our ELs have a way to participate immediately if they feel comfortable to do so.  Her response was “But they can’t read that!  Your kids don’t read any English.”

Okay. I get that.  On their own… on that day…. no, they couldn’t read a poster in English.  But even on that first day, they absolutely CAN read that poster with our help. Everyone can repeat and follow print and they can comprehend what the sentences mean if you offer some support. And EVERY DAY they gain more English with help from that poster.

“May I ask a friend for help?”
“Can you please repeat the question?”

With phrases like this (that are useful for all students), this environmental print is much more than a poster.  For ELs, it is the first step toward participation and eventual independence in any learning environment.

Even with brand new ELs, let’s remember that they understand more English every single day.  And with some sheltered strategies, that language can be acquired even more quickly.  Once my students began to gain confidence, their participation in English increased.  We do a great deal of speaking in unison, reading aloud in unison, tracking print and having conversations with classmates that may start scripted but lead to authentic exchanges.

 

I’m thrilled to have some of those students preparing for a presentation that they will do next week for 37 World History students who will be visiting our classroom.

The mainstream kiddos are interested in our migration stories! They will come for a class visit, hear a few presentations and share food that they are bringing for the occasion.   Can you imagine all of the positive affective, cultural and growth-mindset outcomes for both groups?  Not the least of which are the learning standards we are hitting with World Geography and World History in the curriculum.

Presenting to our community is great but it gets even better.  We are contributing our slides/stories to a project on migration stories that is happening in a classroom in Laos.

For this project, I have to give a big thanks to two colleagues whom I have never met.  These ladies are from my Twitter PLN!

Ms. Olwen Millgate is a 5th grade teacher at the Vientiane International School in Laos. Several months back, she reached out to me on Twitter and invited us to contribute to a Google Slides presentation on Migration Stories for her students.This opportunity to tell our stories and write for an authentic audience was like gold!  And what an amazing opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures, countries, push/pull factors, current events and more. So much learning happens in the cracks with this kind of global collaboration.  It is profound for both classes!

At first, I was not sure how to have my newcomers (some who are just gaining literacy in any language) participate with the limited amount of time we have in class or in a grading period.

Enter Noa Daniel and her fantastic idea of BOBs (Building Outside the Blocks)!  I first heard Noa on this episode of Derek Rhodenizer’s podcast. She was talking about the idea of having your class work outside the blocks of times that we are allowed in class.  WOW! Why had I not thought of this? This idea of flexibility paid off in so many ways.  Noa’s students are taking off in all different creative directions so her blog is worth checking out no matter what you teach!  For my students, the choice of projects and the choice of presentation

For my students, the choice of presentation dates, offered them a realistic way of preparing and sharing something in their new language. Noa also sent me a different project “What’s in a Name” that allowed the students a chance to research the origins of their name,  interview parents and analyze if this name suites them.  I was inspired by how many students chose to do this project even though they had already compiled enough information to present on other subjects.  This project was compelling to many of them.   
What I am seeing is that CHOICE + FLEXIBILITY = SUCCESS for my learners.  Wouldn’t this be motivating for any learner?

So now we are getting close to the end of the school year.  This time of year is so rewarding! As ESL teachers, we get to see all the growth our students have made and we are now communicating with more ease.  We start to relax as we see these learners using their skills to take ownership of their learning.

It creates a differentiation issue when we have new students arriving all the time.  My campus has received over a dozen newcomers in the past few weeks and my veteran newcomers are far beyond the beginner stage in several domains.

Thankfully, the poster is still there and the class helps the new students use it so they can start participating right away.

Thanks for your interest and for being an EL advocate!

We need more like you!

Carol