One way to help our students become strong readers and writers is by providing them with books to read. We cannot expect our students to embrace reading and grow academically and linguistically if they do not have the resources to do it.
This is why I am always trying out different ways to get books in my students' hands! Through Donor's Choose, Amazon wish list, and asking for donations, I've obtained books for students to read. And not just books, but compelling books, authentic books, and text that my newcomers CAN access, especially when they are attending school in a hybrid model (synchronous and Asynchronous).
So, when Saddleback Education Publishing reached out to me and invited me to try out their new digital books platform with my students, I was super excited. Not only because it's material I am familiar with, but because these are books my students are familiar with too. We've used these books pre-COVID, and they knew how helpful this resource can be.
I knew they were going to be as excited as I was.
Navigating the New Saddleback Digital Platform
Once I was familiar with their easy-to-navigate platform, I began creating our first lessons for my newcomers. I couldn't wait to introduce the Saddleback Digital platform to them as a new resource to read and learn. To get my students comfortable with the platform, before sharing our lesson, I gave them the link to the digital platform and provided them with a class login and code I had created. Students logged in and clicked around looking at all the books available to read. As students clicked around, I was able to help students who needed a little more guidance getting into the platform. It is not complicated to get in, but if students attend school virtually, this might be a little more challenging to see if they are entering the correct information. Once students were all logged in, we played a game. The game consisted of a scavenger hunt. This was just to get students used to navigating the platform without any issues.
Our First Lesson Using Saddleback Digital Platform
Our first lesson was all about school language since we had students who had never been to a USA school and or not familiar with a specific USA school structure.
Since we had students who were new to a USA school and were unfamiliar with our USA school's structure, our first lesson was about school language.
Slide one: To explain the difference between one and the other, I had one slide where I explained how some books are stories made up by the author and how some books are research teaching us about a topic. Using images of books, I had students access the slides and sorted the book covers based on the category we thought they should be placed.
We used sentences like: I think the book ___________ is fiction because _______________. I think the book ___________ is nonfiction because _____________. After modeling one or two books, students were all able to take turns and share a sentence.
Slide two: I introduced the two books we were focusing on for the following days and had them find each book on their own and scanned the book to get an idea about the content.
Slide three: I took this idea straight from the teacher's manual but because students were not on campus, I couldn't use the worksheet (and I don't like worksheets). As we read the text, we completed our informational web with all the details from the text. I'd read the text aloud first, then I'd have students read after me a couple of sentences at a time. The slides were completed by students with my guidance while sharing my screen and supporting them in finding the information. It was a great way for me to see who was paying attention and who was understanding what the text was teaching us.
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. ~ Amelia Earhart
I feel like if I begin reflecting and writing about 2020 - it would make for a very long and sad post. 2020 was just a year we will never forget. The battles and struggles were real - But we made it through! As I began thinking about my #OneWord for 2021 - I found myself going back to 2020's OneWordand asking myself whether I needed to keep the same word, or have a new one. You see, 2020 was a year where MANY - MANY things were put on hold. Because of COVID-19, schools were closed, parks, were closed, outdoor events were canceled, etc. Life seemed to have paused. So, as I read my post about my OneWord 2019, I couldn't help but think how this too needed to unpaused. I knew I didn't want to use the same word for 2020 so I thought about a word that would take my 2019 word to the next level.
In 2019, I wrote: You see, we are meant to be great! We are not to settle for just "good"...If I get comfortable with just being "good" - then I've failed myself and those around me.
There's nothing wrong with wanting more.
More ANYTHING & EVERYTHING THAT SETS YOUR SOUL ON FIRE!"
You see, all this is still what I desire. I feel like 2021 will be a year to achieve our goals despite any difficulties encountered while achieving our goals or anything that sets our soul on fire! That's why my #OneWord2021 is TENACITY!
--Tenacity says "I can" even though the impossibilities are bigger than our capabilities.
Do you have a #OneWord2021?!? I know many people who like doing New Year's resolutions. I don't have anything against resolutions - If that's what works for you, great. I actually prefer one word. One word that will ignite a fresh new start & new year. Share in the comments your #OneWord or your New Year's goals! I'd love to hear from ya!
I finished reading my last book of 2020 around noon on December 31st, 2020. My last book was the awesome middle grade book Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz (even my 7-year-old loved it).
I really loved and enjoyed every single book I read in 2020. In fact, what makes me so excited is the fact that I was able to not just meet but surpass my 2020 reading challenge!! Of course, this was not always the case. I've tried meeting my reading challenge for years (since 2016) and I had never been able to complete it...until 2020.
I experienced an extraordinary feeling while reading Valentina and Melinda’s book. I was reading the introduction when I began highlighting text, making notes on the pages, and writing takeaways in my notebook. Reading & Writing for English Learners is a book that highlights the best of my two worlds: my English learner world and my educator world. The English learner in me couldn’t contain the excitement as I was reading a book with a core belief centered on what’s best for English language learners (ELs). You see, I was once an English learner sitting at the back of class unengaged and just accumulating knowledge without the opportunity to demonstrate my learning.
Reading and writing lessons were not structured in a way that students’ background and home language were maximized. This lack of opportunities and modalities to demonstrate what I was able to do in class just made me feel like an outsider and without a sense of belonging. So reading a professional development book that is centered around the whole child – and also provides ideas to weave in culturally responsive practices to help English learners grow linguistically – fills my heart with so much joy and hope for ELs. The educator in me is grateful for a book that not only validates my pedagogy throughout but also provides new ways to help me grow and develop as I learn to teach reading and writing through a language lens.
This is the second year I get invited to schools to share about my immigrant journey and my Guatemalan heritage.
This year, I had the privilege to share with an elementary school and a high school! Besides schools, I also shared about my heritage on our local publish library's Facebook page.
Of course, because of the pandemic, these presentations were organized virtually but they were still fun and filled with so much learning.
Ross Elementary - Signature Music School in KS, held their annual Hispanic Heritage Assembly virtually and I had the honor to share a stage with the amazing artist Aaron de la Cuz. Since I knew I was presenting to an elementary audience, I shared my piñata, my cascarones (confetti filled egg shells), how I make my tortillas, and much more!
Here is the recording if you'd like to see it. I know students had a blast and they had really great questions (they always ask about the Ellen experience).
National Hispanic Heritage Month is by far a favorite time of year in the USA. From September 15th - October 15th this country honors, celebrates, and recognizes the contribution and influence of Hispanic Americans to USA culture, history and more!
This year, I decided to share a video challenging my #PLN and followers to do the following:
Learn something new about a Hispanic friend, a colleague, or a neighbor and share it.
Double check your bookshelf and make sure Hispanic culture is represented in books & share away!
After sharing my challenge, I had a few friends sending me messages accepting the challenge and sharing their findings. It was wonderful to see friends embracing this wonderful celebration.
I also began sharing all my Hispanic Heritage Books (at least the ones I had at home). Every day from September 15th to October 15th I shared a 30 second video of a book that highlights and honors Hispanic culture. I shared picture books, middle grades books, young adult books. I shared my books on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. All of these videos were curated and uploaded it to my Youtube channel.
If you have read any of these books, share with me how you're using them with your students. If you are adding any of these books to your booklist/bookshelf let me know. I'd love to connect and discuss how to use the book with your students.
There is no doubt that co-teaching is an effective practice to better serve English language learners. Co-teaching is defined as two educators who team-teach by providing simultaneous instruction to a group of students. Through this model, students receive content-based language learningwhich means that students receive content learning as well as language acquisition support.
Co-teaching or team teaching is an opportunity to create a culture of shared experiences and shared responsibilities among two teachers. This, of course, increases the opportunity to provide a focus and intentional differentiation support students may need.
But as easy and as effective as it may sound - co-teaching can be challenging for many of us!
Fear of the unknown begins to take over when we hear "co-teaching".
Doubts about our strengths begin to attack.
Anxiety strikes just thinking about being observed all the time by your co-teacher.
This was true for Mrs. Eudy and me during the 2019-2020 school year. However, we both faced our fears by putting our students' needs FIRST and the outcome was very effective. We now recognize that co-teaching draws on the strengths of both - the content area teacher who understands the structure, the content, pacing of the curriculum - and the special area teacher who can identify unique challenges and individual needs students may have to fully access the content.