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!
"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.
Blog post on ESL Strategies Course: Session #3
Our 4th ESL pd was part two of our second language acquisition (SLA) lesson. We were on our EOC week so not everyone attended but information was emailed out so teachers can still learn about this content.
Teachers were asked to share their thoughts and the conversation led into a deeper conversation on learning vs acquiring the language.
The Wakelet below has a great presentation that explains the difference on learning and acquiring a second language.
This learning led us to dig deeper on one of the most important theories known on SLA - The AFFECTIVE FILTER! This theory is researched and supported by studies and its founder, Steven Krashen, is who you want to read about if you want to learn more about this topic.
We talked about how important it is for students to use academic language in the classroom to help them acquire the language. One way we recommended for students to use academic language consistency is posting sentence starters and model for all students to use.
This chart on sentence starters is just an example of what you can post for all students to use.
The article we read was "To Help English Learners, You Need Ways to Reduce Their Affective Filter" by Kara Wyman, MEd and you can read it here
Mrs. Hatley and I are both ESL teachers at Concord HS. We both provide co-teaching/inclusion services in all content areas. Our teachers are amazing and very open to collaborate and learn new ways to support our English learners. Together we are creating a culture of responsibility to grow our English learners not only academically but also linguistically.
During the month of December, we sent our staff an email offering an ELL strategies course where teachers can learn effective practices to support ELs. Participation to our course was not made mandatory and CEUs (content credits) were offered.
We were super excited when we heard from over 25 staff members who wanted to participate.
Our group meets once a week for 30 minutes with a 30 minute homework assignment to be completed during the week.
During the month of January, we met four times and we've had a total of 10 teachers participating with consistency. Among the attendees, we have out MTSS couch, administrators, and core teachers.
The session and strategies learned were as follows:
Thank you for reading!
It's here...Year 2020 is here!! This time of year is by far the most exciting time of the year for me. This is the time of year when many of us get into deep thought about all the exciting events that we experienced throughout the past year. A time of year to reflect and embrace what we have or have not accomplished as the year comes to an end.
This is also a time of the year to think about new beginnings, new goals, new journeys.
A new year brings hope and encouragement to perhaps complete what we couldn't accomplish the year before.
I don't know about you but I am not very good about making a New Year's resolution or a list of things to accomplish. I just feel like I wouldn't be able to keep up with what I want and I don't want to feel disappointed.
I LOVE to be surprised by life! I don't know what this year has in store for me. I don't know where I'll go. I don't know who I'll be meeting.
What I do know is that I need a WORD. One word that will serve as a core focus to what I do, why, and how I do things in life. Whether is personal or professional, this word helps me stay focus on what matters to stay passionate about everything I do.
I started choosing an inspirational word for a few years now and the intentionality I put on focusing on this word has been powerful.
I blogged about my #OneWord2018 and #OneWord2019 if you'd like to read it.
This post is a follow up to "Stories that Sparkle Powerful Conversations" - If you have not read it, I encourage you to read it since it provides the background you may need for this post.
My advanced newcomer English learners were assigned the picture book 'Refugees and Migrants' by Ceri Roberts. This book covers migration from its causes to what we can do to aid refugees. It covers life in refugee camps, about the application process for asylum.
You can see their presentation below. They did an excellent job providing important details, their thoughts, and visuals.
What you can't see in their presentation was the result of their presentation. As they were sharing their thoughts on the videos and the immigration topic, students began to cry all around the room.
You see, I have several students (including me) who immigrated to the USA just like the book and their videos showed.
Their presentation stirred up in us so many feelings we keep inside. Our immigrant experiences, regardless of what you experienced, mark our lives forever. Some feelings are happy, some are painful feelings, and some you can't even talk about.
When overwhelmed with emotions...tears help!
There was not a dry eye in the room. We all cried. We all hugged. We all shared. I even had a student share with me a video of him and his mother crossing the river to make it to the USA. THIS was when I lost it! I started thinking about how hard this particular student works EVERYDAY and how his teachers are only concern about his grades...when in his mind and heart THIS is what's going on.
Students hugged me and said, "Mrs. Francis, don't cry". But how can you NOT cry when you know your students are dealing with so much in their personal life.
We heard stories of concentration centers, stories of reasons why we left our home country. Stories of hope. Stories of resilience and strength.