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.
**This post appeared originally in www.Middleweb.com on November 12th, 2020**
Click HERE to read original post
Here's my review of the new book for ELA & ELL teachers by Valentina Gonzalez and Dr. Melinda Miller - Published by Seidlitz Education
Reading & Writing with English Learners: A Framework for K-5
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:
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.
If you are on Instagram and would like to check out the curated stories, check it out HERE!
Thank you for reading!
Co-teaching according to Wenzlaff et al. (2002) is described as “two or more individuals who come together in a collaborative relationship for the purpose of shared work...for the outcome of achieving what none could have done alone”
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 learning which 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!
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.
I was honored to attend the South Carolina English Language Acquisition Kickoff as one of their keynote speakers.
My presentation was recorded and thought I'd share it here for you to access.
Topic: Distance Learning Doesn’t Have to Feel “Distant”
Presentation description: COVID-19 rocked every educators’ and students’ world. Educators across the globe had to adapt their teaching ways. Students across the globe had to adapt to a new way of learning.
However, regardless of the changes -- we are all adapting, and education must continue impacting our students. Today more than ever, our English language learners need stability and consistency when it comes to their learning.
Emily’s experience as an English learner affords her a deep understanding of the challenges her students must overcome to find success. This is why her distance learning lessons emphasize building relationships and providing compelling lessons.
Understanding and embracing that each individual brings unique life experiences and assets into the classroom makes the learning experience so much fun and engaging. So let’s learn how we can make distance learning feel not so “distant” for our students and us.
There are several slides with resources in the notes section. If you find these resources helpful, please let me know. If you have any more resources I can add, please share them in the comments and I'll add them to the slides.
Thank you for reading and have a great school year!
Did you know that students are NEVER too old to enjoy a picture book? This article here tells you more. Even adults can learn from picture books - I do!
The book Dreamers, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is a stunning picture book with an amazing story about an immigrant mother and her baby immigrating to the US. While discussing it with our newcomer students, I began placing sticky-notes everywhere with all the ideas and thoughts that were rushing through my mind. Here is what I was thinking:
Packing Our Culture
I was 15 years old when I was asked to pack-up a backpack with a couple of outfits and whatever else I could fit in and carry with me on a journey from Guatemala to the USA.
I remember looking around the room and packing a few photographs and recuerditos (keepsakes) I didn't want to leave behind.
I do not doubt that many immigrants experience this moment when they have to decide what to pack and bring along their migration journey. Besides packing the essentials, many of us pack something that will remind us of the world we are leaving behind, representing our country, homeland, and believes.
Just like we pack-up objects, we also pack-up our identity within us and hold on to it as tight as possible because we know it is what makes us who we are. The things we pack-up within us are experiences, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, family, foods, music, culture, heritage, and more. All this builds our individuality.
Yuyi Morales narrates this personal experience perfectly in this image. We see how her backpack includes a jatana, a pencil, nature items, and Señor Calavera. If you follow Yuyi's Instagram account, you'd see how these objects represent her identity. Objects that she carried with her as she crossed over the Mexican border to come to the USA. And just like we see in her book, the objects that represented her identity were kept safe and packed up because they were being protected or perhaps they stayed packed up because she didn't feel like her individuality would fit in the new culture.
In Dreamers, we see the characters trying to blend in and function in a new country and culture but with a substantial struggle to be who they are.
I experienced this as well, and so do many immigrant students and individuals who come to the United States. While many of us love our home culture, our language, and everything about our heritage, society tells us that to function successfully, we must keep our background packed up and blend in the American culture and master the English language to be successful.
For many of us, it'll be years and years till we realize that our culture, language, and heritage are valuable and core to who we are.
For others, this realization will never happen - and heritage, language, and culture will be lost. To me, this is a sad reality that will hinder many generations.
Opportunities to Unpack
As an immigrant myself, I can tell you how intimidating it is to be yourself and unpack our background for all to see.
You look around, and everything is new and different. You listen around, you and all you hear is the new language -- a language you don't yet understand.
However, there are ways to embrace the differences while still appreciating what is packed within us and show them to the world.
Here are a few of them:
Having our culture and heritage unpacked is just the most wonderful feeling. How do you know your culture, language, and heritage is unpacked? - When you celebrate it, appreciate it, and embrace it. When you do not fear what others will say about who you are, how you speak, or what you're wearing. When you begin to find a place in your new home, you understand that we have more similarities than differences and contribute to society to create a beautifully diverse culture.
As we were reading this book with my student, we both had different takeaways from the text. Yousef here was able to draw what he understood what was happening in the story, then retell the story using his own words. He was able to personally connect with several parts in the story and was very confident understanding it because the images speak so much.
I am encouraged to write my takeaways because he did the same!
If you have read this book and would like to share your takeaways with me, please share them with me. I'd love to hear about your experience with this amazing book. Or if there is another book that would share these same ideas, I'd love to know of it.
Remember YOU matter! Your culture matters, your language matters, your heritage matters. So, showcase it...display for all to see and appreciate it.
Thank you for reading!
I am so excited to share with you all about this fantastic book I just finished reading (twice).
Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros - This is a beautiful family story - not only the main character Efrén Nava is highlighted, but also his parents and the entire family.
Efrén is a fascinating young boy who at a very early age finds himself having obligations at home that go beyond his responsibility. The story begins setting a stage of a very humble Hispanic family living with very little resources but strongly united.
Efrén's Amá goes looking for a job, while her children are in school, she gets caught up in an ICE raid and is deported back to Mexico. Efrén is heart-broken but at the same time, his heart was ready for this news since he understood that his parents were in danger of being undocumented in the US. He quickly begins taking responsibility for his twin brother and sister Mía and Max.
I Love Efrén's attitude towards his family. Without complaining and without asking why he jumped in and contributed however he could to support his family and continue providing a sense of consistency and normalcy for his siblings.
Throughout the story we see the family's strength to keep the family together - Apá works countless hours and goes above and beyond to provide for his family and find ways to bring Amá back home.
I have to say how much I LOVE the way Ernesto honors Hispanic families and culture throughout the story.
Amá's deportation hurt the entire family - and we see how every one of them kept on pushing and functioning and planning regardless of how they were feeling.
It is a story that many students will identify with - whether is because they are separated from their parents or maybe because they are carrying on the same responsibilities and obligations Efrén is having to do.
This is a story all teachers, principals, social workers and guidance counselors need to read. I was able to connect with the story because I experienced a lot of the things the family goes through - but if you have NEVER experienced anything like this, it would give you a needed perspective to better understand your students.
I do not doubt in my mind that a lot of students in our classrooms are experiencing things at home that do not feel comfortable sharing with anyone at school; hence knowing about these topics would give teachers that understanding and the knowledge they need to advocate for students.
During July, I participated in the #ELLchat_bkClub Twitter book chat where we engaged in conversation with this book. It was so exciting to hear from other teachers reading this book and see how they react to certain parts of the book.
I also LOVED engaging with the author who participated during our entire book study.
Because I believe this book needs to be used in schools - whether is for bookclubs or guided/strategy reading groups or school group discussions, I made these chapter notes and questions as I read the book.
Feel free to use them! If you create any more resources for this book, I'd love to hear from you. So far all I have are questions and topics for discussion but I would love to see educators creating an entire book study with activities for the book.
Here's a great identity heart graphic organizer a book study participant created.
Amy Sherman took the challenge in creating an identity map on Efrén Nava and it is just fabulous.
This would be something amazing to have our students create too.
You can find a printable version of the graphic organizer here.
These are the questions we used for discussion during our book study on #ELLchat_bkClub. If you need an editable version of the questions pdf documents above, you can access them here.
This book is without a doubt a 5 starts book that middle schoolers and HS students would love.
I'd love to hear from you if you have read it or if you decide to read it. There are many topics to discuss and I'd love to engage in conversation with you about this book. Author Ernesto Cisneros is very active on Twitter so connect with him and ask any questions you may have.
Thank you for reading!