"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.
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.
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.
We see Efrén struggling in school and trying to perform to the best of his ability regardless of what he was going through.
We see Apá working non-stop to be able to get extra money to be able to bring Amá back home.
We see Max and Mía, two little kids, missing Amá's love and care (and cooking).
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_bkClubTwitter 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.
It is a two-day online workshop featuring researchers, teacher trainers and pedagogical experts. Participants will learn:
the impact of current events on immigrant and refugee students
strategies to improve distance learning
how to support students during times of crisis
how to bring the immigrant voice into focus across the curriculum
You can register HERE for the 2020 Immigrant Student Success: Strategies and Tools for K-12 and Adult Educators on July 8 and 9, 12:00 to 3:00 PM EDT, three hours each day
I am honored and humbled to present on July 9th - My topic is: Personal Stories to Build Strong relationships. I also will also be part of a discussion panelist sharing our thoughts on Immigrant StoryTelling.
I hope you can join us but if you can't, I will be providing links to the recordings if you cannot join us live.
I was so excited to read this book that I pre-ordered it and received it 2 days after it was released. As soon as I found out that this story was about 3 Guatemalan teenagers - I knew I had to read it.
Of course the story does not disappoint! We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez is a hard book to read just because the journey Pulga, Chico, and Pulga (3 main characters) go through are VERY difficult. This book tells the raw journey of 3 teens who ride La Bestia (a monster train) to immigrate to the USA and their journey will stay with you long after you finish the book.
As a Guatemalan and immigrant myself - I was able to identify with the characters which is something I long for my students to do when reading our class books. I am going to be so excited to share this book with my students...especially when the Spanish version is released!!!
You can find my full booktalk/review of this 5-Star book here on my YouTube channel!
I read this book over a weekend! I usually take much longer to read books because I read in between errands, parenting, cleaning, cooking, etc. THIS book, however, was a book I couldn't put down. Laurie Halse Anderson's book SHOUT - is a book that that will make you want to shout and stand up for those who have experienced or are experiencing sexual abuse, rape, and/or harassment of any type.
I would not even think twice about having this book on my class bookshelf for HS students to read. Not only will this book encourage and empower readers to stand up and speak up agains sexual assaults, but also will ignite the desire to want to know more about this topic and advocate for those who are hurt.