"One Word isn't about WHAT but WHO. Who do you want to become, not what you want to accomplish?" ~ Dan Britton
I LOVE this time of year - time of reflection and planning. Time to analyze what went well and what can get better. I'm not tough on myself. I know life is life and things happen. Sometimes things go as planned, some other times they just go the opposite of what we planned.
Anyway, while reflecting on 2022 and my #OneWord, I can see how this word really came alive. Many things unfolded in my life. I became an author, I started serving students mainly in an inclusion model, my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary...and so much more that is UNFOLDING!
I had a busy year. I know I did. But it really hit me when I read my daughter's Christmas card message. "I know you have been busy this year so I hope you like what I got you."
This message coming from my 8 year-old really got to me. It made me stop and think how many times have I told her "I'm busy" and put other things before her. Or how busy had I've beed that she didn't reach out to me because she knew I was "busy".
Anyway, as I was thinking about my #OneWord2023, I wanted a word that would help me with the "being busy" reflection.
I don't think I am stopping what I'm woking on since my book just released. What I can do is BE. Unapologetically BE who I want to BE and also BE present.
Thank you for reading!
Author Guest Post: “Their Story, Our Legacy” by Emily Francis, Author of If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher
This post was first featured on Unleashing Readers website on September 25th, 2022 - HERE
During the first days back this year, our school received a special guest speaker, former educator and coach, who left a remarkable legacy. Coach Smith was fired up, sharing the wonderful stories that highlighted the amazing history of our school which he collected from 1893 to the day he retired.
I began to think about how his passionate stories impacted every staff member listening. The power of a story hit me to my core, and I began wondering about our students’ stories: What stories are students telling about our school? About us as teachers? Just like Coach Smith can share his powerful and impactful stories about a building, so our students are out and about telling stories about us.
Of course, I connected it to my personal experience as a former student new to the USA. As a fifteen-year-old scared immigrant, I entered high school with so much passion and persistence but left with shattered dreams. My story about my experience as a student in the USA is not a good one. It’s a story of pity and sadness and pain. I can close my eyes and feel exactly how I felt in my high school classes. These were uneasy feelings I don’t want my students to feel.
I cannot remember a teacher who would have incorporated practices to support my culture, identity, and strength. My high school years made me question my own identity. Just the fact that it was never acknowledged made me question my own existence.
Thinking about my personal stories from my former high school and listening to Coach Smith led me to think about my legacy. George Couros said, “Your legacy is not what you do. It’s what your students do because of you.” I dare to add… It’s what your students SAY because of you.
Feeling like we have been robbed of our identity may cause dysfunction in society. I know. I lived it. I now strive every year to make sure equitable practices are in place to better serve our students.
I had the honor and the privilege to attend and present at the 2022 Immigrants Student Success Virtual Conference.
If you can, check out the many different recorded sessions that can help you provided support to your immigrant students.
The conference covered:
My Session: Identity Affirmation Through Literature, Language and Storytelling
Let me know if you watch my sessions! I'd love to hear your takeaways!
Thank you for reading!
In May, I was thrilled to share with you the amazing cover of my book If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher, soon to be published by Seidlitz Education Publishing.
During the month of June, advanced readers' copies (ARCs) were sent out to selected readers. I don't have the words to describe the feeling when I opened the package and saw my book for the first time. It was an excitement that words cannot explain. Holding the book in my hand brought tears to my eyes. I can't wait for the world to read it.
Some readers received a hard copy of the ARC, others received an e-book. Some readers I selected just because I've followed their work and knew they would enjoy the book and provide great feedback. Other readers were selected by the publishing company or the our marketing company.
I'd have to say that PR by Books is doing an amazing job helping me promote the book and making sure the world know about this great book. Just look at this great Author's Page and the NetGalley page where you can read some reviews.
I am honored and humbled to read these great reviews. All these authors are highly respected and are authors I personally admire and have learned from. I appreciate them taking time to read and review my book.
NetGalley and Goodreads Reviews
If you are a NetGalley member, you can request an e-book the book and provide your review. If you're on Goodreads, please, add this book to your "to-read" list! Click here to read more.
It feels my heart with so much joy to see my friends and network tweeps reading my book and providing such heartfelt reviews and comments. I was thrilled to see THE Valentina Gonzalez ,author, speaker, and professional development facilitator, make time to read my book. Thank you to all my friends and family for your support.
As always, thank you for reading and staying connected. Be sure co add your name to this book launch form so you are informed when you can order the book!!
BIG NEWS! It's HERE. My book's cover reveal is finally HERE!
I am so excited to share with you the wonderful cover of my book:
𝙄𝙛 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙊𝙣𝙡𝙮 𝙆𝙣𝙚𝙬: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher - Published by Seidlitz Education
In my book, I share my immigrant story through letters written to my newcomer students
The publication date is September 1st, 2022
Be sure to complete THIS form to get all the updates!
It's that time of year again -- The beautiful time of year to reflect on the past year and plan for the New Year ahead.
There are many things I should probably be reflecting on; but, I choose to reflect on my previous years' #OneWord -- That One Word to help guide my year's actions, thoughts, ideas, connections, and choices. One word that has encouraged me to be a better version of myself since it becomes a vision statement for the year.
Tonight, as I sit here reflecting on my previous years' One Word and how my life experiences have revealed a little more of who I am, I can't help but be grateful for whom I've become.
I have do not doubt that my journey (personal and professional) is unfolding exactly as it should be. I know my life is not where it should be...YET... But, letting my journey unfold and reveal more of who I am is exactly what I need this year.
Unfold -open or spread out from a folded position & reveal or disclose.
Unfolding my passion.
Unfolding my energy.
Unfolding my knowledge.
Unfolding my love for what I do.
Unfolding will be core this New Year -- Allowing every experience and every step in 2022 to reveal more of who I am.
I'm super excited about my word. Do you have a #OneWord? Is there anything else you do as a resolution for the New Year? I'd love to hear from you.
Share your thought in the comments. Are you interested in learning more about the #OneWord? I'd be happy to connect with you and help you as you begin your #OneWord journey!
Happy New Year 2022!! I wish you the very best. I am glad we're connected.
Thank you for reading!
I had two class meeting days left with our newcomers, and I wanted to do something productive. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, when I think of rich lessons, I think of activities that will make my students think critically, move around, use all language domains (speaking, listening, reading, and writing), and learn!
At first, I thought about showing movie clips about mystery or suspense movies. I could have had them identify story elements like characters, settings, problems, solutions, and describing the plot - which is what we did using text. But, I didn't want my newcomers to get the idea that I wanted them to watch movies as we end our school year. I also didn't want my colleges to see my newcomers watching movies instead of doing productive work.
So, what better than End-of-School Year reflection questions?!? Most of my students were face-to-face, but I had four student who were learning virtually. Hybrid teaching is challenging when you are trying to have an interactive and engaging lesson. But, technology comes to the rescue in times like this! I've taught my newcomers how to use google slides, Jamboard, and how to navigate our course Canvas page.
"When people say we don't want to reinvent the wheel, I stop listening: I want to reinvent the wheel!" D. Ed Hoggatt
For the most part, I agree when people say - "don't reinvent the wheel..." - Not reinventing the wheel has saved me so much time. I've learned a lot from other educators. However, when it comes to working with newcomers, you can't just use the wheels you find -- somehow, you must reinvent it to make it fit with the group of students you're teaching. You know - personalizing your lesson for a better outcome.
So, if I wanted my students to answers great end-of-year reflection questions, I quickly began searching for what other educators have created.
These were the two web pages I found useful to do what I needed.
I created a google slides presentation so it'd look presentable and colorful. Each slide had a question in big font to emphasize its importance. You can access the slides below!
Two reasons why google slides are useful with this activity:
My face-to-face students received colorful sticky-note pads to answer each question.They placed their answers on a chart paper that had all the questions.
My virtual students received a link to a Jamboard where they answered on a sticky note for each question.
Here is the Jamboard if you'd like to make a copy and use it with your students.
Students were all engaged. Not only were the questions open-ended so they could share their thoughts openly, but it created a stress-free time for students to share their voices.
Several of their answers will serve to make some adjustments as the support they need for the next school year. A great educator should ALWAYS make room for improvements - especially when students are giving feedback.
I also learned a few new things about each student - especially the two newcomers who had only been with us for a week or two. The activity outcome made me happy. I almost cried when I saw a few of them mentioning me in their answers.
Needless to say, we wrapped our last day with a group picture and selfies. See pictures HERE.
What feels like the end
Thank you for reading!
Amplifying the Voices of Unaccompanied Minors Virtual Conference
When & Where:
July 21, 2021
10:00 am – 1:00 pm CDT
What it is:
Amplifying the Voices of Unaccompanied Minors is an opportunity for teachers and school leaders to hear from those who have lived the experience as an unaccompanied minor in the American school system.
DEVELOPING ALL LANGUAGE DOMAINS WITH WRITEREADER
WriteReader is a wonderful platform I've used with elementary and High school students. It's student-friendly & teacher-friendly.
In this webinar I share how & why I use it.
Confirming Existence – Choosing Compelling Text
You can find more information and several other helpful webinars to support you and your students CLICK HERE
Thank you for reading and watching the presentation. If you have any comments, please share below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
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 OneWord and 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.
That's why my #OneWord2021 is TENACITY!
--Tenacity says "I can" even though the impossibilities are bigger than our capabilities.
"Tenacity is essential for accomplishment in anything you do. Without drive, determination and a strong-willed attitude, one's level of success at any endeavors will be limited in scope."
~ Gabriella Marigold Lindsay
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!
Previous years' OneWord
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.
**This post appeared originally in www.Middleweb.com on November 12th, 2020**
Click HERE to read original post
Here's my review of the new book for ELA & ELL teachers by Valentina Gonzalez and Dr. Melinda Miller - Published by Seidlitz Education
Reading & Writing with English Learners: A Framework for K-5
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.
This is the second year I get invited to schools to share about my immigrant journey and my Guatemalan heritage.
This year, I had the privilege to share with an elementary school and a high school! Besides schools, I also shared about my heritage on our local publish library's Facebook page.
Of course, because of the pandemic, these presentations were organized virtually but they were still fun and filled with so much learning.
Ross Elementary - Signature Music School in KS, held their annual Hispanic Heritage Assembly virtually and I had the honor to share a stage with the amazing artist Aaron de la Cuz. Since I knew I was presenting to an elementary audience, I shared my piñata, my cascarones (confetti filled egg shells), how I make my tortillas, and much more!
Here is the recording if you'd like to see it. I know students had a blast and they had really great questions (they always ask about the Ellen experience).
National Hispanic Heritage Month is by far a favorite time of year in the USA. From September 15th - October 15th this country honors, celebrates, and recognizes the contribution and influence of Hispanic Americans to USA culture, history and more!
This year, I decided to share a video challenging my #PLN and followers to do the following:
After sharing my challenge, I had a few friends sending me messages accepting the challenge and sharing their findings. It was wonderful to see friends embracing this wonderful celebration.
I also began sharing all my Hispanic Heritage Books (at least the ones I had at home). Every day from September 15th to October 15th I shared a 30 second video of a book that highlights and honors Hispanic culture. I shared picture books, middle grades books, young adult books. I shared my books on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. All of these videos were curated and uploaded it to my Youtube channel.
If you have read any of these books, share with me how you're using them with your students. If you are adding any of these books to your booklist/bookshelf let me know. I'd love to connect and discuss how to use the book with your students.
If you are on Instagram and would like to check out the curated stories, check it out HERE!
Thank you for reading!
Co-teaching according to Wenzlaff et al. (2002) is described as “two or more individuals who come together in a collaborative relationship for the purpose of shared work...for the outcome of achieving what none could have done alone”
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 learning which 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!
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.
Did you know that students are NEVER too old to enjoy a picture book? This article here tells you more. Even adults can learn from picture books - I do!
The book Dreamers, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is a stunning picture book with an amazing story about an immigrant mother and her baby immigrating to the US. While discussing it with our newcomer students, I began placing sticky-notes everywhere with all the ideas and thoughts that were rushing through my mind. Here is what I was thinking:
Packing Our Culture
I was 15 years old when I was asked to pack-up a backpack with a couple of outfits and whatever else I could fit in and carry with me on a journey from Guatemala to the USA.
I remember looking around the room and packing a few photographs and recuerditos (keepsakes) I didn't want to leave behind.
I do not doubt that many immigrants experience this moment when they have to decide what to pack and bring along their migration journey. Besides packing the essentials, many of us pack something that will remind us of the world we are leaving behind, representing our country, homeland, and believes.
Just like we pack-up objects, we also pack-up our identity within us and hold on to it as tight as possible because we know it is what makes us who we are. The things we pack-up within us are experiences, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, family, foods, music, culture, heritage, and more. All this builds our individuality.
Yuyi Morales narrates this personal experience perfectly in this image. We see how her backpack includes a jatana, a pencil, nature items, and Señor Calavera. If you follow Yuyi's Instagram account, you'd see how these objects represent her identity. Objects that she carried with her as she crossed over the Mexican border to come to the USA. And just like we see in her book, the objects that represented her identity were kept safe and packed up because they were being protected or perhaps they stayed packed up because she didn't feel like her individuality would fit in the new culture.
In Dreamers, we see the characters trying to blend in and function in a new country and culture but with a substantial struggle to be who they are.
I experienced this as well, and so do many immigrant students and individuals who come to the United States. While many of us love our home culture, our language, and everything about our heritage, society tells us that to function successfully, we must keep our background packed up and blend in the American culture and master the English language to be successful.
For many of us, it'll be years and years till we realize that our culture, language, and heritage are valuable and core to who we are.
For others, this realization will never happen - and heritage, language, and culture will be lost. To me, this is a sad reality that will hinder many generations.
Opportunities to Unpack
As an immigrant myself, I can tell you how intimidating it is to be yourself and unpack our background for all to see.
You look around, and everything is new and different. You listen around, you and all you hear is the new language -- a language you don't yet understand.
However, there are ways to embrace the differences while still appreciating what is packed within us and show them to the world.
Here are a few of them:
Having our culture and heritage unpacked is just the most wonderful feeling. How do you know your culture, language, and heritage is unpacked? - When you celebrate it, appreciate it, and embrace it. When you do not fear what others will say about who you are, how you speak, or what you're wearing. When you begin to find a place in your new home, you understand that we have more similarities than differences and contribute to society to create a beautifully diverse culture.
As we were reading this book with my student, we both had different takeaways from the text. Yousef here was able to draw what he understood what was happening in the story, then retell the story using his own words. He was able to personally connect with several parts in the story and was very confident understanding it because the images speak so much.
I am encouraged to write my takeaways because he did the same!
If you have read this book and would like to share your takeaways with me, please share them with me. I'd love to hear about your experience with this amazing book. Or if there is another book that would share these same ideas, I'd love to know of it.
Remember YOU matter! Your culture matters, your language matters, your heritage matters. So, showcase it...display for all to see and appreciate it.
Thank you for reading!
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, when 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 since they were 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.
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_bkClub Twitter 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.
Thank you for reading!
Maestra usa sus experiencias como estudiante inmigrante para capacitar a otros profesores