Tuesday, July 17, 2018

EL Excellence Everday

Saturday July 21st kicks off #EllChat_BkClub 13.0! We will be reading EL Excellence Every Day
 Tonya Ward Singer

I read EL Excellence a few months back and I am confident that you will LOVE it just as much as I do. It is an amazingly informative, user-friendly text that will likely become one of your "go-to" resources when you are planning lessons, striving to use best practices for ELs, and/or supporting your colleagues to better understand the needs of English learners.

The round 13 chat will go on for 5 weeks and our reading schedule is as follows:

I will tweet out questions for each week's reading and will include links to the questions here on this post as well so you can easily find all the questions in one location.

Week 1 Questions
Week 2 Questions
Week 3 Questions
Week 4 Questions

If you will be joining us in reading EL Excellence, please introduce yourself on our Flipgrid!

Password: ELExcellence

Friday, July 13, 2018


We are excited to kick off our first ever #EllChat_BkClub technology challenge. Sarah Said suggested we add technology challenges/discussions throughout the year, so I brought her on as the official #EllChat_BkClub Technology Coordinator. 

During this week-long slow chat between book rounds, we are going to explore and discuss the app Seesaw. Some of us have committed to obtaining Seesaw Ambassador status by completing their the 3-hour training course, so we can also discuss and reflect on that experience and what we've learned.
 Sarah and I both recently became Ambassadors! (woot!)

First things first...Introductions!
Please introduce yourself on our #Seesaw4ELs Flipgrid so we can get to know our group. 

The password is Seesaw4ELs

Please feel free to answer some/all of these questions at your own pace. 
We are using the hashtags #EllChat_BkClub and #Seesaw4ELs for this round. 

Link to Questions

We are planning a LIVE Google Hangout, but the date/time are still TBD. Hope you can join us! 

Friday, June 15, 2018


Hi everyone! We are ready to kick off #ElChat_BkClub 12.0 with our second novel, Refugee. This is an amazing story of three different refugee characters that I just know you will love! Once you get started, it's hard to put down. I put together a short video with info about this round and how it will work. I am recapping it here, so it's easy to access and all in once place. 

Video Highlights: 
  • Candyland game board-mark a space each time you answer a question or tweet about the book. Thanks to Tan and Rochelle for all the hard work creating the game board! 
  • I divided the book into four sections and we are reading about 75 pages each week. 
  • Weekly virtual coffee chats on Wednesdays or Thursdays...let me know if you'd like to join! 
  • Thanks to Rochelle Verstaendig, Michelle Makus Shory, Chris Tennyson, and Brandy Sue Alexander for volunteering to write questions for the chat. 
  • Questions will be posted on Friday for the following week.

Introduce yourself on our Flipgrid. Password is Refugee12.0Summer

Keep checking back to this post because I will be adding links to questions for each week as we go. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

LIVE with Erika Sanchez!

Check out our LIVE chat with author of I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Erika Sanchez. 

Special thanks to Carlota Holder and Jess Bell for setting this up!


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Welcome to 10.0...our first novel!!

We are officially kicking off round 10 
(I can't believe we are on ROUND TEN!!!) 
March 10th. 

If you are joining us for the first time, welcome! We are so excited to expand our circle of friends and this amazing PLN! If you are a returning participant, I am so glad you're back!!

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter will be our first #EllChat_BkClub novel. If you take a peek along the righthand side of the screen, you can view all of the other amazing texts we've read. 

Our mission: Improving instruction for ELs one book at a time. We pride ourselves on being a truly phenomenal network of intelligent, talented, and wonderful people who work in different capacities of education. Our common ground is our passion for ELs and making their educational experiences the best  and most effective they can be. 

This round, we are looking forward to bridging a novel study with our passion for ELs. In addition to discussing the book, we will be discussing how reading this text influences our teaching and how we think and interact with students. 

My goal is to use Kyelene Beer's BHH framework for reflection. 

BHH = Book Head Heart

I've made some adjustments of her questions to fit our specific chat.

In the book:
What is happening in the story?
What are the characters experiencing?
  What details are important?
What does the author want the reader to know?

In your head:
What connections can you make between the story and what you know about teaching (specifically teaching ELs)?
What in the story challenges your thinking about teaching ELs?
What in the story confirms your thinking about teaching ELs?
How might you adjust your instruction for ELs based on this story?

In your heart:
What did you learn about yourself as a teacher by reading this section?
·      How will reading this text help you be a better teacher?
What connections can you make between the book characters and students you teach/have taught?
How might you adjust your interactions/relationship with ELs after reading this book?

Questions will be posted each Friday for the following week. I have wonderful helpers contributing questions this round (THANK YOU!!) and per usual, any reflections, book snaps, comments, and questions are welcome!

Let's get started with a few Flip Grid responses!


Friday, January 26, 2018

Text Resources

This week's section focuses on the (R)ead portion of Talk Read Talk Write. One of the essential components of this entire structure is having a text relating to the content objectives that is appropriate for your students. 

Nancy lists many great resources, so I am including what she wrote in this section of the texts, with links (and a few of my own comments) included. 

1. Existing curriculum-use texts from curricula that you have easy access to. 

2. Online Resources

www.timeforkids.com- Weekly news magazine addressing a wide range of topics for students in grades K-6.

www.dogonews.com- Current events articles connected to Common Core ELA, science, and social studies topics. Intended for students in grades K-12.

www.newsela.com- Articles addressing current events, science, kids, money, law, health, arts, sports. Each article is offered at several different Lexile levels and some articles are offered in Spanish. Teachers can create text sets as well of articles with related topics. Intended for students in grades 6-12. There is also a newsela elementary version

www.kellygallagher.org- Author and teacher who posts an "article of the week" intended to build students' background knowledge. Intended for students in grades 9-12. 

www.tweentribune.com- Twice daily AP news articles. Lexile leveled for K-12. Critical thinking questions and self-scoring quizzes also available. 

www.naturalnews.com- News website about natural health and other science-related topics. In addition to articles, this website offers Infographics, cartoons, and videos. Intended for grades 6-12. 

www.teenink.com- 100% of the content on the website is created and submitted by teens. Writing, art, photos, and forums for and by teens about topics they are connected to. Intended for grades 6-12. 

3. Student notes:students read their own notes

4. Teacher-created Text: Rather than delivering content verbally, the teacher constructs a text for student to read that includes the pertinent information. Although time consuming, teachers can ensure that the text aligns to the greatest extent possible to the content objective being addressed. 

You can also check out this post by Larry Ferlazzo called The Best Places to get the "Same" Text Written for Different "Levels"

And, one more I came across when searching: 

"News-2-You is a wonderful website full of great stories and headlines from news around the world. N2Y dedicates it's time to connecting students to the world. The topics are contemporary and adaptable in the classroom. N2Y is interactive as it provides auditory guidance through reading passages. N2Y also provides visual images and symbols to support the topic students are reading. N2Y topics provide quizzes, opinion questions, and recipes for food that would relate to the topic.

Friday, January 19, 2018

TRTW Week 3

It's week 3! 

This week I am SO very curious to see how everyone responds to the weekly questions. I think providing appropriate texts for English learners can be such a challenge and I am hoping that through our responses we can build a great list of resources. 

I will compile a list of the suggested resources and post on this site. 

You can find Week 3 questions ==> here 

If you are looking for questions from the first two weeks, you can find them

here and here.

Happy Reading! 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Talk Read Talk Write

Welcome (back) to round 9.0 of #EllChat_BkClub! We are so excited to be starting another round with Talk Read Talk Write and our current author Nancy Motley! 

Take a peek at our reading schedule and jump in! 

The questions for the current week will be pinned to my Twitter profile {@Toppel_ELD}, but links to each week will be posted here. You are never "behind" or "late"! Our slow chats are ongoing and we can always circle back to previous chapters!

If you want some information about how to participate, check out this post.

Also, here is the link to our Flipgrid Intro Videos!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Academic Conversations

This week our chapter in Unlocking English Learners' Potential focuses on academic conversations. This is a great chapter to read in order to focus on strategies to foster high expectations for ELLs that also take into account the affective filter. We learn strategies that emphasize language production that also support students by structuring discussions in ways that make ELLs feel comfortable and by providing them opportunities to practice before sharing with classmates. Pairing what we know (and learned from chapter 3) about scaffolding with this information about academic conversations provides some big impact moves to support our English learners!

Here is a link to Questions for Weeks 4 & 5

As teachers, one of the reading comprehension skills we teach our students is how to make book to book connections. I often do this when I read, so I'd like to offer some complementary resources that go along with this week's chapter.  

Academic Conversations is a great text by Jeff Zwiers & Marie Crawford. In addition to LOTS of great information, the authors present a series of talk moves in an effort to promote authentic interactions where students need to listen to one another in order to have a conversation and further their learning through critical thinking. We read this book in Round 4 of #EllChat_BkClub. 

I am super excited for the companion version The K-3 Guide to Academic Conversations that is being released in early December. I already have my copy pre-ordered! 

Our very own #EllChat_BkClub Eduhero Carlota Holder created a great printable set of academic conversation cards containing visuals, question prompts and sentence frames for each of the talk moves included in Academic Conversations. And because she is such a rockstar, she offers them FREE through her TPT page! Thank you, Carlota! 

Michelle Gill also posted this fantastic visual comparing output to interaction. I love this visual so much as it represents the exact shift I need to make with some of my students. Thanks for posting this, Michelle! 

Yes, it is important to get students talking. 

More student talk. Less teacher talk.

But, the quality of the talk is also important to take into consideration in order to ensure that we are also fostering listening skills. Jeff Zwiers often mentions the concept of an "information gap," which means conversations take place in which students need to rely on one another to complete a task, answer a question, or respond. Students cannot simply regurgitate, copy, or produce language, they need to engage in thinking as part of the process. 

If you search TPT, Pinterest, or Google for "accountable talk" or "talk moves," you will also find tons of examples of great sentence frames, sentence stems, and anchor charts that can provide students with excellent language models. 

 This feels like a really busy time of year and I know many of us are struggling to keep up with the reading. I want to take this opportunity to say, don't worry! There aren't any #EllChat_BkClub police that will come knocking on your door asking why you haven't tweeted responses to the weekly questions. Go at a comfortable pace and the resources will still be here beyond the official dates of the chat. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

PD in Your PJs

Larry Ferlazzo was kind enough to post this piece I wrote on his webpage to spread the word about #EllChat_BkClub and how to participate in our book chats. When people on Twitter ask how they can join #EllChat_BkClub, I often include the link to this post. I am reposting it here, so it can be part of our archive on this new site as well. It does not reflect our current chat because we are now in Round 8, but the info still applies.

PD in your Pjs: How to navigate #EllChat_BkClub on Twitter

Currently, #EllChat_BkClub is in its 6th round with a book study on Boosting Achievement by Carol Salva (@MsSalva) and Anna Matis (@AnnaTeachesELLs). Participation is at an all-time high thanks to Carol’s fabulous skill-set in both writing and sparking interest in her book and also the power of our community to sustain interest via new pathways for participants to share ideas and reflections about the book’s content. Whether you’re a veteran participant to our book chat, a new member, or you’ve never heard of us, here’s all you need to know about navigating #EllChat_BkClub on Twitter.

1.     Who to Follow: #EllChat_BkClub was the brainchild of myself, Katie Toppel, a K-5 ELD Teacher/ESOL Adjunct Professor and Tan Huynh, an ELL teacher in Laos/author of empoweringells.com. It began with the idea that it would be fun to both read Collaboration and Co-teaching by Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria Dove and then discuss via Twiiter.  We never expected how big our community would grow, but it has blossomed into an outstanding group of educators who are passionate about ELLs. We continuously engage in book chats based on books the participants have voted on and we think we’ve started a pretty exciting movement that capitalizes on engaging, convenient, and personalized professional development. Some key players to follow on Twitter are:

·      Katie Toppel, @Toppel_ELD
·      Tan Huynh, @TanELLClassroom
·      Carlota Holder, @Carlota_Holder
·      Valentina Gonzalez, @ValentinaESL
·      Emily Francis, @emilyfranESL
·      Shaeley Santiago, @HSESLTeacher

Some authors who we’ve read/plan to read:
·      Carol Salva, Boosting Achievement, @MsSalva
·      Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld, Collaboaration and Co-teaching/ELL Frontiers, @AndreaHonigsfel
·      Dr. Jana Echevarria, No More Low Expectations for English Learners @jechev
·      Cathy Beck, Leading Learning for ELL Students, @Cathypetreebeck
·      Nancy Motley, Talk Read Talk Write, @NancyMotleyTRTW

2.     How to “join”: First and foremost we want to emphasize that anyone is welcome to participate in #EllChat_BkClub. People in a variety of different educational realms have come together in the interest of improving instruction for ELLs. There is absolutely no exclusivity about our group and we welcome everyone! There is not an official way to “join” #EllChat_BkClub. If you’re interested in participating, search #EllChat_BkClub and take it from there. You can click on “recent” and you will see the most recent tweets that have included the hashtag.

3.     How to Participate: We now have quite a variety of ways to engage and the beauty of #EllChat_BkClub is that participants can engage to whatever extent they wish! Here is a breakdown of the different ways to comment/reflect on the book:

·      Weekly Questions: I post a reading schedule prior to each round as well as weekly questions from my Twitter account (@Toppel_ELD). The questions are listed such as 1Q2. The first number indicates which week of the chat the question is for (chats typically last between 4-6 weeks depending on the length of the book). The Q stands for Question. The second number indicates the number of the question (we typically have between 3 and 9 questions each week). 1Q2 would be week 1, question 2. Participants can respond to any/all questions if they wish. We ask that responses identify which question is being answered by using the numbers listed and changing the Q to an A to indicate Answer. For example if a participant is answering 1Q2 they would include 1A2 in their tweet.  Make sure to include our hashtag so other participants can find your tweets!

·      Photo Tweets: Tweet a pic of your highlighted text, your notes/takeaways, or yourself reading the book. We kicked off round 6 with book selfies, which was really fun! Make sure to include our hashtag so other participants can find your tweets!

·      Regular Tweets: Nothing fancy here, just tweet anything about the book that fits within 144 characters. Maybe there’s a quote you liked or an idea that came to mind when reading….anything goes. Make sure to include our hashtag so other participants can find your tweets!

·      BookSnaps: Some participants use #BookSnaps to capture interesting quotes and passages from the text. Essentially a book snap is a photo of text (possibly highlighted text) that allows the reader to annotate and reflect on the content. Many booksnappers add Bitmojis as well. A Bitmoji is your own personal emoji that you can design to look like you. You can create booksnaps using a variety of methods, however common ones are Snapchat, Seesaw, and Buncee.

To learn how to create your own book snaps, see a tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_p8S2hIVqQ

To learn how to create your personalize Bitmoji, see a tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVK85B5htuA

·      Padlet: Sometimes we use Padlet (a virtual bulletin board) to create a shared spot to brainstorm ideas around a particular concept or question. For Boosting Achievement we asked participants to post ideas relating to how teachers can go about getting to know and building relationships/trust with SIFE. The link to the padlet will be tweeted and then any participants can contribute. Take a look at our Boosting Achievement padlet here: https://padlet.com/katie_toppel/e4rccqyg3m29

·      Flipgrid: We use Flipgrid to add a video component to our discussions. The link to the flipgrid is tweeted and then participants can record videos up to one minute and thirty seconds in length, responding to the questions that were posed or just sharing their thoughts about what they’ve been reading. More than one response can be added when 1:30 just isn’t enough time! Check out our Boosting Achievement Flipgrid here: https://flipgrid.com/481e29

·      Google Hangouts/Youtube LIVE: During this round, we started doing weekly Google Hangouts to discuss the readings. A request for participants will be tweeted and you can choose to either participate in the Google Hangout (in which case you will be sent a link to join via Direct Message and you video chat/discuss with other participants, the author, and #EllChat_BkClub co-founders while the discussion is being broadcast to YouTube) or you can choose to just watch the discussion (in which case you access the video via a link that is tweeted out). 

As our community of passionate, enthusiastic educators grows, we will likely continue to add additional ways to participate, discuss, and reflect on the amazing books that we are reading. To date we have read the following books:

·      Collaboration and Co-Teaching by Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria Dove
·      ELL Frontiers by Heather Parris, Lisa Estrada, and Andrea Honigsfeld
·      Writers are Readers by Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth
·      Academic Conversations by Jeff Zwiers & Marie Crawford
·      Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond
·      Boosting Achievement by Carol Salva and Anna Matis

We look forward to growing our community and providing stellar PD for interested educators! Take a look at what some of our participants tweeted about #EllChat_BkClub:
“I’m blessed to have stumbled onto this PLC making connections w/other Ts has helped me visualize different EL classrooms throughout the US.”

“Great forum to discuss and share ideas. Being exposed to different perspectives and experiences. Learn new things from each other.”

“Love the opportunity to share my point of view and also learn educators point of view. Very interactive and centered on #ELLs. Effective PD.”

“I followed to ID good reads for me. It was like having a series of book talks by multiple colleauges. Found some gems. Thank you.”

“Love sharing exp with Ts from all over with varies Ss pop-poeople eager to help, share, learn & collaborate! Inspiring me to be a better T!”

“I love that the author herself and her close collaborators are actively participating and responding to all our comments. Helps us process”

“I love the ideas, perspectives & resources from so many teachers who share my passion for the success of ELLs. Together we are better.”

Together we ARE better.  Join us in revolutionizing and personalizing your professional development!

EL Excellence Everday

Saturday July 21st kicks off #EllChat_BkClub 13.0! We will be reading EL Excellence Every Day by  Tonya Ward Singer  (@TonyaWardSinger)....