**This post appeared originally in Seidlitz Education on April 21st, 2020.**
It doesn’t happen as often as it should, but when it does, it is the most amazing feeling one can experience. That moment when you’re reading a book and you see your life and family experiences reflected on every single page. That moment when you see text and images intertwine on a page to bring forth cultural validation and acceptance. That moment when you close the book and cry tears of happiness because you realize that stories are so much deeper than you ever thought.
I experienced all this and so much more the day I read Sometimes… by Hugo Ibarra and John Seidlitz.
(video of me reading the book aloud for International Children’s Book Day.)
Sometimes… is just the book we need right now. Ibarra and Seidlitz share with us a story in which immigrants’ experiences are legitimized, one that opens doors for connections and much-needed conversations. It is a story that made me think about how experiences and family stories don’t have to be forgotten. And about how significant it is when stories are shared, because they validate what is core in our existence and our hopes for what is to come.
Sometimes… is a story of hope. A story of courage and strength. A story of a family who worked together through difficult circumstances to make their dreams come true. And even though sometimes things don’t go as planned and changes need to happen along the way, we see the characters rising through it all. We see Andrés and Clara holding tight to the hope offered by their mother and teachers. A hope that helps them get through every situation that comes their way.
The International Children’s Book Day theme for 2020 was “A Hunger for Words”, and as much as I identify with this phrase, I also believe there’s a hunger for cultural understanding — a hunger for identity and individual acceptance.
Children all over our nation deserve to open a book and see their families’ experiences and languages heard and represented.
Through the lens of an unaccompanied and undocumented immigrant, an English language learner, and an educator, I closely analyzed each page of Sometimes… and wrote down a few essential points at which the book authentically reflects many of our students’ experiences.
Last week I found out about International Children's Book Day - a wonderful worldwide celebration.
I immediately started looking into it - If you know me...you'd know that I am passionate about children's books. I love picture books. I used them when I taught elementary with students in Kindergarten through 5th grade and now I use them with my newcomer high school students.
There's just something magical about a children's books & picture book. I've used them to teach all genres and I've found that students connect with these books and encourages them to learn more.
So, as soon as I found out that International children's Book Day is celebrated on April 2nd, 2020 - I started brainstorming about what book to focus on. Of course, all my cultural and diverse background book collection is in my classroom and there was no way I was going to be allowed in the building to get some.
So I started digging through the books I have at home found a book author John Seidlitz sent me. I had not taken the time to read it so I started reading it...and...Oh...EM...Geeeeee! I started crying while reading it. I couldn't believe there was such an amazing book on my bookshelf and I have not read it!!!
I wanted to share a great conversation I had with Adam Strong, director of Re-Imagining Migration, on how to build effective and lasting relationships with newcomers.
You'll notice who this is a very simple conversation but loaded with practical and effective ways to create and maintain strong relationships with newcomers. I have no doubt that all students need and deserve a teacher who takes his/her time to get to know them and care for them. However, newcomers, students who not only left their country behind but could've experienced a lot to be here in the USA, have an urgent need to be heard and understood.
Our conversation was first posted on Re-Imagining website on March 3rd, 2020 - and you can read it here.
On March 13th, 2020 - Share My Lesson website shared it too!! I am so excited to see how a simple conversation about supporting newcomers is so very well accepted by these platforms that work hard to provide effective lessons to educators.
You can find the same post here: "Building Relationships with ELL Students and Newcomers: A Conversation with Emily Francis".
Learning and understanding what your students have experienced can give a perspective you’ve never had. Learning their experiences can open up your eyes to a world you’ve never seen or lived before.
Thank you for reading!
Just in case you don't know yet, I wanted to post here about our current bilingual Twitter book study on Integrando Lenguage, Lectura, Escritura y Contenidos en español e inglés ~ Integrating Language, Reading, Writing, and Content in English and Spanish.
This book is not available on Amazon. You can get your copy through Velázquez Press following this link.
This book study is through the very well known hashtag #ELLchat_bkClub by Katie Toppel and Tan Huynh. Katie allowed us to include this book study to the reading rounds so it is round 24.0! This book study is bilingual (Spanish and English) because the book is written in both languages (side-by-side).
A list of questions will be posted every Sunday just to guide out conversation but you're welcome to post anything. Some ideas to post are: Favorite quotes, own questions, #BookSnaps, own thoughts, etc!
This book has great content and support for all teachers who are:
We started on March 15th and we'll be following the schedule on the image above. We'd love to have you join us if you can.
Check out all the awesome participants we have so far!
Katie Toppel has more information on her website if you're looking for all the questions and for more information on how this chats work.
Her Website is: http://ellchatbkclub.blogspot.com/
Thank you for reading!
High-Impact Literacy Instruction for ELL Students
I wanted to share with you this amazing opportunity to learn ways to support your English language learners. Bret Gosselin from TX and I will be joining literacy expert Shaelynn Farnsworth on a webinar to share effective practices to support students with reading and writing.
Here's what you'll learn:
Participants will learn creative ways to build relationships and community, specific literacy instructional practices and strategies to implement in the classroom, and advice on how to measure achievement growth in EL learners. We’ll also be sharing tools and tech that you can use in your classroom, inclusive to EL learners, along with writing assignments designed to grow great writers.
The webinar will be on Wednesday, March 18th at 5:00 pm ET.
To register follow this link!
I hope you join us! Please comment below if you registered and share your thoughts after attending our webinar.
A recording will be posted the day after. A link to the recorded webinar will be posted here as well.
Thank you for reading!
"If there's a book you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
~ Tony morrison
Last year I received a phone call from an author and very good friend, Carol Salva. Carol has always been so supportive of my work and is always sharing my immigrant journey during her presentations. She called me to let me know that John Seidlitz, the owner of Seidlitz Publishing, was interested in publishing my story. I cried! I was so excited to hear this because I've read several books published by Seidlitz and they are all centered around English learners and how to support them. I was also excited because finally, I was having the opportunity to publish my story.
This all became a reality on February 7th when John Seidlitz and Sarah Welch came to NC to visit me and discuss my future book.
There's not much I can tell you about the making, title, or format, or timing; but what I can tell you is that is coming!
My book is coming!!
Not only will I be sharing my immigrant journey and experiences as an English learner but also my students' stories.
As soon as I have more information I can share, I'll be posting about it. Thank you for supporting me and my work. I can't wait to share with you this amazing accomplishment.
Thank you for reading.
Blog post on ESL Strategies Course: Session #5
During our 5th session on Effective strategies for ELs (click here to read about session 1-4), we took most of the time to dig deeper into our ELLevation Instructional Framework activities.
We started our session reviewing the 6 effective practices we learned about during session 4.
We used Kahoot to not only have a little fun but also to review our learning.
The game consisted of answering reflective questions that teachers were to analyze and assign to the corresponding practice. For example, a question was..."Am I considering non-traditional experiences as well as mainstream experiences when I discuss and teach something in class?" is this Building Background Practice or Developing Academic Language Practice?!?!? Of course, this question is referring to "Building Background".
You can play the game here if you'd like.
We notice how teachers are as competitive as students are! Congratulations to Mrs. Pierce for getting 1st place.
An Activity in Your Pocket Chart
We made our 5th session centered on ELLevation activities because these classroom activities are effective to use during instruction and are research-supported to help improve language acquisition and content learning. These activities are non-content specific and they can be used in any core content classroom.
We thought that a fun and creative way to show our learning was to create a chart containing activities for each practice. So, we created an "An Activity in Your Pocket" chart. This is an idea taken from the popular "a Poem in Your Pocket" chart.
Since there are 85+ activities available for teachers, I thought each teacher could find a classroom activity for each practice learned, write it on a strip of paper provided, and place it in the corresponding practice pocket.
Teachers shared their favorite activity as they placed them in the practice pocket.
You can see the picture below - our chart is filled with amazing and effective classroom activities to share with your colleagues.
A couple of great observations was pointed out by our math teacher and our Spanish as a foreign language teacher.
Our math teacher expressed how it was a challenge to find activities she could apply while teaching Math III but she had a few that she will definitely be using in class.
The same was addressed by our Spanish teacher, however, she said how she will be able to twist these activities to use them as she teaches Spanish.
Overall, we were really excited about our teachers' excitement as they shared their favorite activities. You can't hide passion...and passion was what they were sharing as they told us how they'll be using the activities in class.
These are some of the activities we were finding interesting:
Thank you so much for reading!
Blog post on ESL Strategies Course: Session #4
Cabarrus County Schools use ELLevation as a platform to house and store our ELLs' data information. I know there are several counties who use this platform.
ELLevation also provides ELLEvation InClass platform section that teachers can use to improve instruction for ELLs. The instructional platform is an additional license counties can purchase to support with academic and language instruction.
We are so lucky to be able to have the data and the instructional platform for ALL teachers in our county.
This ESL pd session was understanding the instructional framework that ELLevation provides for educators. The resources learned here can really be applied in any county whether you have ELLevation system or not. It is a teaching framework with effective practices that can make you just a better teacher.
To Review, we practiced and activity called "Inside-Outside Circle" where teachers had the opportunity to share what they've learned so far in out ESL sessions.
We modeled this activity hoping that teachers will take this activity and use in their classroom and foster interactions among their students.