From October 15th - October 26th, I had the honor and pleasure to lead a Twitter book study through #ELLchat_bkclub. If you participated - Thank you! - If you did not, I recommend you take some time and review our conversations on very important topics that are highlighted in Latina Teachers by Dr. Glenda Flores. Some of the topic we discussed are:
LIVE Book Chat
#ELLchat_BKclub Meta Round 17.0
On December 15th, 2018, Dr. Katie Toppel (co-founder of Twitter chat #ELLchat_bkClub) reached out to a few of us in our PLN (Professional Learning Network) and shared her idea for round 17.0 Twitter book chat.
For round 17.0, Katie offered us to help facilitate a book study on Making Content Comprehensible text from SIOP by each one of us taking charge of a component. The idea was to make this an 8-week "meta" book study - one week for each component. Each facilitator was invited to guide each component with own ideas, resources, videos, live chats, presentations, and connections with other previously read books in our chat.
So each one of us provided our preferences as to which component we wanted to lead. The component assignments were as follows:
As soon as the "meta" promo went out, participants immediately began sending in selfies with the book and showing so much excitement about participating. It was even more amazing with the author Dr. Jana Echevarria started engaging in conversation and even blogged about #ELLchat_bkClub round 17.0 - "Is SIOP Only for ESL Teachers?" - Read her post HERE.
My favorite line is "join the Twitter PLC discussion on SIOP." WOW!! Just awesome to read this from the SIOP author and highly recognized researcher in our field.
During the summer of 2017, Refugee book by Alan Gratz was released. There was a huge buzz about this awesome book that I decided to get it. I even ordered several copies and shared with colleagues so we could all read it together. However, I had to stop reading it and put it away. I didn't stop reading it because I didn't like it; I stopped reading it because I found myself disoriented while reading it.
You see, I am an English Learner (EL). English is my second language. As matter of fact, I've only had 3 years of high school and my college education here in the USA. Read here if you want to learn more.
Even though I was compelled and excited to read this story, I found myself struggling to make sense of what was happening. I was getting frustrated. I was getting caught in small details, I couldn't remember the most important events, I was forgetting what I had just read and was unable to make connections between events. I TRIED! I KEPT READING! But I felt like I was wasting my time. So I gave up and put the book away.
All year went by and I kept seeing posts about how awesome this book was and how everyone should be reading it. I felt bad and kind of embarrassed that I had not been able to read this wonderful book. However, reading 'Más Allá del Invierno' by Isabel Allende, entirely en Español, was super easy and refreshing to my mind.
So, why did I have trouble reading Refugee, you might ask? Well, allow me to shed some light on the book's NARRATIVE STRUCTURE (text structure is the overall organization of the text).
The novel alternates among three narratives that explore the lives of refugees in different decades and parts of the world.
The book is beautifully written, and its narrative structure is brilliantly constructed...but, it threw me off and confused me as an English language learner.
Isn't comprehension the purpose of reading? If so, if you can't read it, you can't comprehend it! Comprehension is the process of extracting or constructing MEANING!!
Giving Refugee Book a Second Chance
The #ELLchat_BkClub voted on reading Refugee over the summer of 2018. As matter of fact, I also voted on this book because I was still intrigued by everything I've heard about the story and I really wanted to read it.
Guess what?!? I read it ALL in just 4 weeks!
However, the only reason I was successful in completing the book was that I had support.
You see, participating in a book club not only provided the accountability for my reading but also facilitated weekly discussions with other participants reading the same story.
Dr. Katie Toppel, the book club moderator, provided weekly questions based on a given number of pages read, and that in itself, gave me the purpose for reading I needed to pause and reflect on what I had read.
I was not just reading the words! I was making sense of the information and ideas. I was constructing meaning, and also retaining information. So this experience led me thinking about my ELs and thought about gathering some resources about this topic.
Why Teach Fiction/Narrative Text Structures?
The question should be, 'why wouldn't you teach narrative structures?'. If you want students to make sense of the text and build on ideas to construct meaning and to retain the information they're reading, then you MUST intentionally teach its structure.
Students NEED a purpose for reading! The purpose of reading is COMPREHENSION.
Again, if students are finding themselves disoriented while reading a narrative, they WILL NOT comprehend, construct meaning, and/or retain information.
How to Teach Text Structures
ELs, and all students in general, NEED explicit text structure lessons; they need tools to support them as they move throughout their reading whether is non-fiction or narrative text.
I find this blog post on Cultofpedagogy.com by Jennifer Gonzalez loaded with resources on ways to teach text structures for non-fiction text.
This "20 Strategies to Teach Text" is fabulous. It actually gives a great perspective as to why and how to teach text structures.
Some key elements our students need to focus on while reading narratives are:
Here's an excellent list of printable graphic organizers provided by Fountas and Pinnell.
The most important strategy we can teach our students is to PAUSE AND DISCUSS the text!
MODEL, MODEL, MODEL how to think aloud while reading! Here's a great video that teaches how to model thinking aloud to increase comprehension.
This "Think Aloud Checklist" is a great resource our students can have with them as they read and think about their reading.
Introducing Fiction Text Structure with STORY looks like a fun way to teach this topic! Click here for more.
S – SETTING
T – TALKING CHARACTERS
O – OOPS! A PROBLEM!
R – ATTEMPTS TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM
Y – YES, THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED!
In conclusion, the method you choose to teach your students 'Narrative Text Structure' doesn't really matter. What matters is to make sure students know how to navigate through challenging text formats to comprehend stories. Having the tools described above will increase reading speed, help retain content, and support with connections with incoming new information.
I would love to know if you use any of these resources or if you have any others I need to learn about. Please share comments below!
Happy reading and thanks for reading my post!
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!!
Part IV: Implementing a Practical Approach to Instruction
I am not the teacher I was six years ago when I started my teaching profession. I am better. No, I'm not bragging! When I started teaching, I did the best I could with what I had learned. Not everything I did was good. Not everything I did helped my students...UNTIL...that is the key. As an educator, I do what I think is best for my students...UNTIL I know better. Learning and practicing what's best for my students IS what makes me a better teacher.
Over the years I have learned strategies and methods to better support, my students. I have built a professional learning network that is constantly providing ideas and fresh approaches to better serve my students. So because I know better, I DO better! By no means think that I have it all figured out...on the contrary...I continue learning so I can become the best I can be for my students.
When it comes to implementing practical and effective strategies to support language learners, you must know that what works for one student may not work for another. It is very important for you to know your student. Knowing their reading level is NOT enough. A level doesn't tell you about their personality. A level doesn't show you how they learn. In order to close any academic gap, there needs to be a specific target area to support. For our language learners...LANGUAGE is the target you need to focus on. If you are interested in how to support your language learners with language interventions, read this article by Kristina Robertson.
If you have students who are just beginning to acquire English, fear not. In Boosting Achievement we learn that newcomers can engage in certain tasks to be able to participate in the content provided in class. Your newcomers can:
If your student is a newcomer, the first thing you want to find out is the literacy level in native language because you'll use that to build second language acquisition. Read one of my recent post about a newcomer who grew almost two grade levels in reading just by allowing him to use their native language.
WIDA Consortium has this document that I know you'll find helpful. You'll gain tips about getting to know your newcomers and ways to support them not only in school but also in the community.
I also encourage you to read "28. Comprehensible Output: What Students Can Do" by Tan Huynh (@TanELLclassroom). Tan provides tip and strategies to deliver lessons in a way that your students comprehend it as well as support students with output process.
My Flipgrid response was based on Boosting Achievement's section on balanced literacy. I believe it is imperative to teach our students the structures of the English language. Language learners need explicit phonological awareness lessons. These lessons could be quick daily interventions where students learn vowel teams, consonant blends, dominant -r, etc. They need to understand the many combinations of alphabet letters to make words and how words make sentences.
One great website to find "research proven" interventions for these type of foundations is: Florida Center for Reading Research. Here you'll find student centered activities by grade level along with teacher resource guides to focus on language foundations.
If you're more like me and want to provide a hands-on activity to develop your students' language acquisition, I recommend the interventions below. The lessons are designed for pre-K students but work well for students who are just developing language.
Since word-work and learning about the language are only part of the balanced literacy approach, the rest of it needs to be compelling text. As learned in Part III, students need to be exposed to text that is compelling and engaging for them to acquire language. Text must be relevant and must reflect who your students are so they can make connections and be motivated to learn even more.
So to finish up I want to thank you for all you do for your students. I have no doubt in my mind that to this day you have done everything in your power to support your students. However, there is always room for more learning. As you learn new methods and strategies, you'll gain better ways to serve your students and be an even greater teacher!
"A recent immigrant can do quite a lot of writing the day they arrive in the country. They most engage in the production of English writing immediately and there are ways to support this, which benefit the entire class." ~ Boosting Achievement
Thank you for reading!