So this is it! We made it!!
Today, Monday, June 10th, 2019, was the last meeting class with newcomers at Concord High School. It's a happy day because I get to see, hear, and read how much English my students have learned. This, of course, brings joy to my heart since I had them from day one as newcomer students in the USA.
But as happy as this day can be - there's also sadness. My heart feels heavy knowing that they will no longer be in room #225 with me.
English for Beginners is a course our school/county designed to provide the foundations of the English language our students need to be able to fully engage in our school, and mainstream classrooms. We meet every day for 90 minutes and we create an environment where risk-taking and changes are supported.
I have students who started the school year with only enough English to understand questions such as "What's your name?" - Today, they were writing complete sentences and sharing with peers how far they've come.
Of course, I couldn't just say good-bye and not have any memories written to show the world how awesome our class was this school year. So...we created our own presentation with moments that are forever in our mind and heart.
If you're like me, I'm always looking for opportunities to learn and better my craft. This is why I wanted to share this with you. On June 5th, 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to present on a webinar with 3 other incredible educators. This webinar was made available through Achieving the Core, an excellent website that provides free, ready-to-use classroom resources that support excellent, standards-aligned instruction for all students.
This webinar helped kick off Achieving the Core's Summer Reading Challenge 2019, which I highly recommend you check out!
As "most popular authors" from Aligned, we introduced some of the transformative practices we’ve implemented in our schools that have helped boost engagement and achievement.
On Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 I had the amazing privilege to attend the 15th Annual Maryland ELL Family Involvement Network (MELLFIN) Conference.
MELLFIN is a non-profit organization, committed to sharing information and resources in support of immigrant families living in Maryland. MELLFIN is a collaborative body, cultivating effective strategies to appropriately meet the needs of Maryland's increasingly diverse and fast-growing immigrant population.
The theme for the 15th annual conference was "Schools and Community Partnership = EL Success". I was honored and humbled to be one of two keynote speakers - Ms. Becky Pringle, Vice President of the National Education Association was our morning keynote and I served as the afternoon keynote.
I had the privilege to share my immigrant journey as well as a few tips to support families and English learners to reach their full (and sometimes hidden) potential.
#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.
Preparing our Readings
I wanted to share our class experience for our second visit to W.M. Irvin elementary school. A couple of days before our visit, we discussed how important it is to be prepared when presenting, or teaching something new. I asked my students to reflect on my lesson delivery. I asked them to share how they know a teacher is well prepared or not so prepared for a lesson. Some were very honest and shared how they can tell when the teacher is thinking on an assignment and expects students to do what it's asked but there's very little support. However, when a teacher has everything printed out, written on slide or board, supports with clarity what's expected, then they perform much better.
After this conversation, I told them how they are becoming teachers when going to the elementary school because the little ones are learning from them. That being said, preparation to even read and ask questions is important. We then brainstormed what we could do to show up to the elementary school and be very well prepared.
Here is what they came up with:
I was so proud of my students because they thinking as educators. They understood that preparation is key to not only feel prepared and ready but also to ensure that the student is supported enough to understand the story.
So, our first step was to choose our book of choice. These are the books my students picked:
I probably thought about this project a little too late in the school year, but I thought we would give it a try anyway!
Encouraged by Tara M. Martin's Cannonball-In Theory - to "quit dipping your toes in the water and waiting for perfect conditions or for fear to fade. Swallow the lump in your throat and climb the rungs of the high dive." - #REALedu, on March 22, 2019, I emailed our principal my ESL project idea. I asked if it was possible for me to take my English for Beginners second period class to our nearby elementary school to read with students who are enrolled in the Spanish immersion program. Since our class period is 90 minutes, I thought it would be enough time to get there, read with students, and get back on campus on time.
I was not surprised when my principal emailed me back with a green light to carry on with the project because he is very supportive of innovative ideas for our students.
There several purposes to this ESL project:
When I mentioned this project to my newcomers, they were super excited! Just the fact that they were going to be allowed to use their home language to empower other students made them feel like they matter. They immediately started planning what to say and what to do with their new reading buddies.
I also started a Donor's Choose project in order to get books for our students to use during our visit.
For our first visit, we thought about writing our own story to use as we introduced ourselves to our new friends. My students used WriteReader.com to create a book in Spanish where they shared all about themselves. Students added pictures and made the books interesting and compelling for our little friends.
I was amazed at their motivation and wonderful work. They dedicated an entire class period to make their book and were very proud of their finished project.
The Greater Cabarrus Reading Association (GCRA) holds an annual mini conference where educators in Cabarrus county and Kannapolis City Schools' teachers have the opportunity to learn from other educators and also earn CEU credits.
This year, I had the greatest opportunity to present and share the awesomeness we are doing in our classroom.
Event Date: 03/23/2019
My session title: Don't Just Make Your Students Write - Make them Authors
Learning how to encourage and inspire students to share their own stories using WriteReader
For a Youtube version on this presentation, watch this video!
On February 21st, 2019 I had the privilege to collaborate and participate in a webinar hosted by SupportEd. Participating alongside Diane Staehn Fenner - president of SupportEd, Sydney Snyder, and Jill Kester was just beyond an imaginable opportunity.
First of all, I am a huge fan of their book, "Unlocking English Learners' Potential". This book provides an array of strategies and ideas to support ELs on working at their fullest potential. I've also participated in several of their free webinars and I've learned so much.
So, the title of our webinar is
Supporting ELs' Oral Language Development Through Academic Conversation.
You can access the recorded webinar here.