What Do English Learners Need?

by Valentina Gonzalez

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I have to admit that when I first began my role as an ESL teacher years ago, I didn’t know much about ELs other than through my own experiences. My experience growing up as an English learner helped me form my beliefs about language acquisition and helped me as I worked with ELs in my general education classroom. Continue reading “What Do English Learners Need?”

Recognizing the Gift: Identifying Gifted English Learners

by Marcy Voss

Recognizing the Gift

“Juan is a newcomer from Honduras. I do not speak his language.  How can I tell if he is gifted?” the teacher asked, almost in exasperation.  

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a student is gifted, even if he or she speaks the native language. Identifying a non-native speaker as gifted can be even harder, but it’s not impossible. Teachers just need to do two things:  

  1. Observe students with the behaviors of gifted English learners in mind
  2. Create the classroom environment where these behaviors can be displayed

To carry this out effectively, teachers need to begin to think like detectives. A detective uncovers evidence and searches for clues to make determinations and discoveries. Continue reading “Recognizing the Gift: Identifying Gifted English Learners”

8 Ways to Grow Professionally in 2019

by Valentina Gonzalez

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Mostly likely, since you are reading this, you are probably a “craver,” an unstoppable learner. You have a desire deep within you to learn all you can.

As educators, we are in the business of learning. And to be effective educators, we, ourselves, must always be willing to learn and expand our knowledge. So how do you plan to grow in your specific area of expertise this year? Continue reading “8 Ways to Grow Professionally in 2019”

The Workshop Approach and How it Can Support English Learners

by Valentina Gonzalez

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What Is Workshop?

Let’s begin by saying that a workshop is not necessarily a program that is purchased and implemented by reading from a script day to day (though there are some out there). Workshop is a structure for teaching, and it can be implemented in nearly any content-area classroom. In my own classroom several years ago, I implemented a reading workshop with a basal reader and the small literacy library our campus had just started. Writing workshop is no different. It’s the same structure. Continue reading “The Workshop Approach and How it Can Support English Learners”

Camino de Paz: A Pilgrimage for Migrant Families

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Last summer, I had a conversation with my wife and daughter at the dinner table about the challenges migrants are facing as they come across the border. We were struggling to come to grips with the painful fact that we knew children and families on the border were in pain, and we knew they needed help, but we didn’t know what we could do to be helpful.

We didn’t want to just be sad or just be angry. We wanted to find a way to help. Continue reading “Camino de Paz: A Pilgrimage for Migrant Families”

Improving English Learner Reading Scores: Here’s to You, Ms. Robinson!

by John Seidlitz

We all know reading is critical for our students’ success — there’s no arguing that. But when it comes to helping our students, particularly our ELs, improve their academic literacy and develop a passion for reading, it’s tough to find just the right formula. So when I found out from Anita Robinson, the principal at Frisco ISD’s Staley Middle School, that they’d seen a huge gain in English learner STAAR reading scores at the eighth grade level — from 16 percent to 61 percent ‘Approaching Grade Level’ — within one year, I knew they were doing something right. Continue reading “Improving English Learner Reading Scores: Here’s to You, Ms. Robinson!”

The Magic of Music…and Middle School

[Ed note: The author would like to acknowledge that the rose-colored recollections you are about to read are heavily influenced by a lack of daily interaction with adolescents. She recognizes that all teens seem delightful when you don’t have to teach (or smell) them on a daily basis and that she might disavow this ode to puberty the second she was again subjected to it every day.] Continue reading “The Magic of Music…and Middle School”

Classroom Environments that Support English Learners

Readers, for those of you that aren’t familiar with me, my name is Valentina Gonzalez. I serve as a professional development specialist for teachers of English learners in a district outside of Houston, Texas. Through my work as an ESL co-teacher, professional development specialist, and consultant, I have had the privilege of visiting hundreds of classrooms, and I’m always looking for language supports. Are classrooms supporting all students? What are the characteristics of the most supportive classrooms? I have been learning from Seidlitz Education through their wonderful books and their face-to-face trainings for nearly a decade, and recently I joined their team as consultant. You will see my work on this blog pretty regularly, and what an honor it is to write for Seidlitz Education, as I’ve admired their work for many years! Continue reading “Classroom Environments that Support English Learners”