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 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:

To learn how to create your personalize Bitmoji, see a tutorial here:

·      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:

·      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:

·      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!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Week 2 & 3 Questions for Round 8

Here are the questions for week 2 and week 3. Some people indicated they prefer to read 2 chapters a week, so if that's you, feel free to read both and answer the questions at whatever pace works for you. Most people voted to read 1 chapter a week, so I've set up the questions at that pace. 

And here is a link to the questions in a document ==> 

Looking forward to the discussions around culturally responsive pedagogy! CRT is my jam! 

Some other amazing resources on culturally responsive pedagogy: 

 If you don't follow Zaretta Hammond on Twitter, you should! Her handle is @Ready4Rigor 

Week 1 Questions for Round 8

Here are the discussion questions for week 1. 

Here is a link to a document as well...


Welcome to the new #EllChat_BkClub page! Shout out to Kirsten Foti for the idea! 

This page will function as a home base for information about our book chat including the weekly questions, reading schedules etc. 

We are currently in our 8th round of #EllChat_BkClub and reading Unlocking English Learner' Potential. 

Check out the reading schedule for this chat here: 

I will continue to add to the blog so that it includes more avenues to connect, but for now, I'm going live and launching it.

Let me know what you think!

Academic Conversations

This week our chapter in Unlocking English Learners' Potential focuses on academic conversations. This is a great chapter to read in o...