We all know what a mirror is. We all have them and we all need them. Collins dictionary defines a mirror as a flat piece of glass which reflects light so that when you look at it you can see YOURSELF reflected in it.
Sometimes we like what we see, sometimes we don't. Perhaps you remember the mantra of Snow White's evil stepmother:
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?
This evil queen had a mirror that will always reflect what she wanted to see...but on many occasions, it revealed things she didn't want to see so she'd do something about it.
We can apply this same concept to books.
Books as mirrors is not a new concept. The idea that a book reflects readers' identity and experiences was presented to us a few years ago. The problem I see is the lack of access to diverse books for students to actually see themselves reflected in books. This is worrisome because "when children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about who they are devalued in the society of which they are a part of." (Read more) This is how the danger of a single story begins!
Considering Our Classroom Library
So now that we know how detrimental it is for our students to not see themselves reflected in text, our job is to make it tangible. Stand in front of your classroom bookshelf and ask:
The true meeting takes place when the book opens, and a stranger reads about — and comprehends — a stranger.
The books you choose as a mentor text for your lessons are very important as well. I understand that we have a standard we need to cover. However, there are books out there available for us to not only teach the necessary content but also validate and represent students sitting in our classrooms who long to be seen and understand for who they are.
Here you have a few resources to help you find diverse books to use as mentor texts:
This is my sixth year in the classroom; Every year I try different methods to make sure I have diverse books available for my ESL students. It is my responsibility to empower them with the tools to know that they matter. Perhaps, they'll be inspired to be the author of their own personal story because now they know that they are worth being the main character in a story.
This is our ESL classroom library with diverse books. Every day my students take a book home...I tell them that they can borrow a book but they get to keep the ideas...but if they keep my book...
I rather lose a book than a reader ~ Donalyn Miller
If you have any resources or ideas you'd like to share with me, please let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading!
I love this picture! I know is not the best picture you've seen but is the moment captured in the image what I love the most.
This is me in this picture. It was a January day in 1994. I was 15 years old. My two younger sisters and I were on one of many buses in our journey from Guatemala to Mexico.
Three undocumented and unaccompanied minors with so much fear that words cannot describe; but also with so much faith for a better future.
I can tell you exactly what I was thinking at that moment...
The school enrollment process was very quick and in no time I was attending school. I was enrolled at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village, NY. I wish I had a picture of my first day of school because I'm pretty sure I had the biggest smile you can imagine. I was fascinated with the building and with all the goodies I was offered upon enrollment. I was beyond excited to begin attending school. Finally an opportunity to be a kid and begin learning to one day reach the success I had always dreamed of.
Unfortunately, 3 years later, I walked out of the school in shame, disappointment, and heartbroken. I became part of the Latino High school dropout. I was told I couldn't graduate or obtain my high school diploma because of an end-of-grade test I had been unable to pass. I couldn't continue attending school because I had already completed all the required credits.
However, today, I realize that it was more than just a test what hindered my education.
You see, a test score doesn't determine success. A grade doesn't say students' dreams. A pop-quiz doesn't demonstrate potential, much less my passion.
This is why I wish my teachers knew...
I share this because the need for educators to know how our newcomers and ESL students are feeling in the classroom is critical. I can't tell you how many times my students express the sense of failure they have because they are language learners. The need for culturally responsive teaching is greater today that it has ever been.
If you have a newcomer or an English language learner, I beg you, take the time to get to know your student. STOP your focus on data, testing, and curriculum alone! Gain their hearts. Learn their story. Help them reach their potential. Let them feel that they MATTER! I promise the language and academic development will follow these priorities.
It is never too late to change your focus. Reach out for support and provide opportunities for our students to grow to be successful citizens.
Here is a post I wrote about ways to support newcomers in your classroom.
and here is a great post by Tan Huynh about essential collaboration to support English Learners.
Thank you for reading!
Blog originally published 11/15/17 on #BookCampPD's Blog
Here’s a very simple question for you; Are you a casual reader or a passionate reader?!? To help you answer this question let’s analyze the characteristics of these traits:
I used to be a casual reader. I read because I had to, not because I enjoyed it. I own these books here because they were required readings during my undergrad and grad school teaching courses. I kept them because I found them very useful and I’ve used them for the past few years as resources and recommendations.
However, not one book in there I purchased because of a desire to read and gain knowledge.
My life as a reader was sad and pitiful. I didn’t realize it until I read this quote by Pernille Ripp’s: “...if reading is merely something we teach, and not something we live, then why should students take us seriously when we tell them how important reading is to future success.”
Now, if you are a teacher, you probably own hundreds of children’s books...at least I do. I’m always on the lookout for the latest and best books to use in lessons and to encourage my students to read more. Our job as educators is to grow readers and instill how import reading is to their academic success. In reality, I was not living what I was teaching my students. The expectation I had for them, I didn’t have it for myself. I realized that I was being a hypocrite. I was trying to inspire my students to do something I wasn’t passionate about.
Pernille Ripp’s words hit me so hard that I started looking for ways to change my reading habits. Of course, to make such drastic change, I realized I couldn’t do it alone and that my readings needed to be intentional to be able to grow as a reader.
So I’d like to highlight the platforms that helped me become a Passionate Reader:
Though it was very nice to get these badges, it was the relationship I built with the group participants that encouraged me to continue participating in the chats. Ever since I’ve joined this group chat, I’ve added so many more books to my bookshelf...and the list keeps growing. I am learning to LOVE reading. I am buying books because I want to experience what others are experiencing when reading their recommended books. I make time every day to read my books. I am also enjoying sharing what I find interesting in a book using #bookSnaps, Padlet and blogging about my readings. I am growing as a reader, as a person, and as a professional.
I am just a book and a chat away from the perfect personalized professional development I can ask for.
Now, #BookcampPD is offering even more opportunities of engagement by adding the VOXER PD version of book chat!! I learned to use this new app and love hearing other’s books recommendations and perspectives on their readings.
You see, the platforms, the tools, and passionate readers are out there ready for you to join their passion!! I would love for you to check out these two hashtags and join the fun conversations; however, my intention is to ignite in you the passion for reading. The passion for starting and finishing a book to happily find someone to share it with. The passion to get lost in a book. Perhaps these inspirational reading quotes can also inspire you!
I feel very confident encouraging you to read because I am now a PASSIONATE READER!
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” ~ R. G. Collingwood
Thank you for reading!!
On November 2nd through the 4th, I had the greatest opportunity and privilege to attend the TESOL convention in Houston, TX.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to this convention was because I have two sisters who live in Houston and wanted an opportunity to visit them. The other reason I really wanted to go was that I wanted to meet a lot of my Twitter friends who were also attending.
I submitted a proposal and it was accepted! As matter of fact, I was honored to be one of their featured speakers!!
My little sister was able to be with me during my presentation! I was so thrilled to have her there!!
I was very excited to present my Teaching Channel project. If you are interested in reviewing my powerpoint presentation or my padlet ...here they are:
Presentation: PowerPoint and Padlet
Before the convention, I had the opportunity to visit Stratford High School in Houston. English learners at this school are in Carol Salva's ENL class and over the past few months, I have created a very strong connection with her students. Read more here!
I loved hugging and high-fiving these brave students. I felt like I have known them for so long. I had all of them sign my copy of Boosting Achievement book since the majority are in it! I can tell they felt privileged autographing a book that was written about their success.
I was so much fun meeting face to face most of my Twitter friends who were at the convention. We hugged, laughed, and shared so much! I promise you, by the end of the convention, I was exhausted!!!
Of course one of the biggest highlights was to hear (great presenter by the way) and meet our ESL idol...THE Dr. Stephen Krashen! I think every language acquisition method is based on Dr. Krashen's theory! We were fortunate to have our picture taken with him. I was able to get him to autograph my copy of Boosting Achievement book since there's a section that talks about one of his theories... "Compelling Input"!
I had the best time ever. I must say that this was by far the BEST convention I have ever attended! I am looking forward to continuing strengthening my relationship with my PLN and practice everything I learned through each fabulous presentations.
We tweeted like crazy during the conference so if you have time...check out the convention hashtag: #TXtesol2017
Thank you for reading!
Show Way - A project That Affirms Identity
As an English as Second Language (ESL) teacher, my job is to analyze my students’ needs and develop their linguistic and communicative competence in English-speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills. One of my goals is to help them achieve a proficient level of English that allows them to function independently in their classrooms, and in society in the future. Another goal is to ignite in them the love for their native language and diverse culture.
I am saddened by the fact that the majority of my students do not see their native language and heritage as an asset. I am not sure what the root for this belief is, but many educators do not see students’ native language and culture as an asset in the classroom. When students do not see themselves in curriculum or in lessons, they get a message that who they are is not important. For this reason, I believe it’s imperative the use of diverse texts in the classrooms. There is a sufficient amount of diverse text available that educators can use as a tool to highlight students’ diversity and enrichment their curriculum and not see diversity as a deficit.
So in order to achieve my goals, I thought about delivering a lesson where my students can develop the English language and also learn to appreciate their language and heritage.
1: Reading text: Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
We started by reading a book by one of my most favorite authors, Jacqueline Woodson. The book is called, “Show Way” and it is illustrated by Hudson Talbott. The story is dedicated to Ms. Woodson’s family in loving memory of the women who came before her. We learn in this bravery story that family members would make SHOW WAYS (quilts) with secret meanings that are mapped to freedom. This story is a story of hope and courage that inspired many generations...including the author...Jacqueline Woodson.
Though students might need a little background knowledge about slavery and why traveling North vs South, our focus was mainly the characters actions and the production of the quilts.
*In our discussion we concluded that Mathis took that little piece of the blanket because she knew how special it was and believed that she could do something with it. She ended up creating something that made an impact on many people. She treasured her mom’s work and she honored it by making quilts to guide her people to freedom. People would come to her to be impacted by her work.
2: Post-Reading Discussion/Connections
We ended the book discussing how Ms. Woodson became a writer because she wanted to share her family stories of courage and inspire others to value their heritage and have the courage to share who they are and value the people who came before us.
My students were greatly impacted by this story. Without having to tell them much, they were able to see for themselves how important it is to accept, value, and share our heritage and family’s story.
Each student took a few minutes to think about their own family stories. We made a list of who might’ve impacted our family in any way. We listed great-grandparents, grandparents, mom and dad, uncles, aunts, cousins brothers and sisters, and even neighbors and we thought about how each individual contributed in some shape or form to where we are today.
Students shared their ideas and were able to gather ideas from their peers as well. We then made a list of what makes us who we are. What food do we eat? What languages do we speak? Where does the family like to go? What does the family like doing together? When does the family get together? What holidays or celebrations are we part of? Do we (or anyone in our family) wear a different outfit?
3: Project: Our Personal “Show Way” or Identity
4: Sharing and “Showing” our identity
We all had the opportunity to share our sheet and learned so much about each other. We allowed questions for further understanding. Our students were very supportive and respectful of everyone's family representations.
5: Making of our classroom “Show Way”
Once we all shared, we decided to make a list of our similarities and we realized how we share so much. We talked about how we need to be proud of who we are and the importance of sharing with the world all about our heritage. We decided to put all pieces together and create a “Show Way” quilt just like Ms. Woodson’s family to show our appreciation and to remember our foundation.
**This post was featured on Sevenzo's web page as:
Being Who You are is an Asset, not a Deficit!**