Monday, March 3, 2014

SOLSC #3: Engagement

I'm participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge. I plan to write every day during the month of March with Two Writing Teachers!

I work with some ahhh-mazing people. Like today, when I got to observe our Bilingual teacher and her group of first graders. I was so into what she was doing, I asked her if I could join her group. She smiled, and said, "Sure!"

So there we were - four first graders, Gissel, and I. She was reading a book to her group that I had never heard of, but that I loved upon glancing at the cover:

I mean, is it not cute or what? Not sure about the exact translation, but something like The Tortilla that Kept Running Away. I had never seen this book before, and it was so cute - and funny! Take a look:

In the beginning of the story, kids were trying to eat the tortilla, but it ran away. Then it met up with some other animals who wanted to eat it as well...and, as you guessed, it kept running away. The end is hilarious, but I'm not going to tell. You'll have to get a copy for yourself!

Anyways, I was just drawn to her group, but not just because of the book. The kids were so engaged - they were leaning in to listen to it. And the reason they were so engaged? Their teacher was doing such great things to make it happen:

  • She had a power point presentation on her laptop with sentence starters to help her firsties build their language.
  • She did multiple think-alouds to share her thinking about reading strategies.
  • She used Kagan structures to ensure that all students had a chance to participate in the activities and conversations.
  • She encouraged them to participate in their own way. One boy said, "Yo pienso que la gallina va a trick him." It's okay that the students are sharing in two languages - they are processing in both. Our ELL teachers see a sentence like this not as a bad thing because it's in two languages, but great because they are drawing on their knowledge in both to construct it.'s constructed perfectly correct!
  • She built relationships with her students. One boy, was explaining his point, and explaining, and explaining. Her response? <with a smile> "Wow, you have so many ideas to share today!"
  • She used Total Physical Response movements for students to think and then show when they were ready.
  • She was taking anecdotal notes as the children shared to inform her instruction going further.
Watching, I was just so into her lesson. As much as her students were:

So there you have it - a perfect slice of my day. I love what I get to do!

And as if that weren't good enough, I got to have a little reunion with my middle school team I worked with for the four years prior to becoming a Literacy Coach:

These are some pretty special people who I've written about previously. You can check that out here.

Happy Monday!


  1. Michelle,
    Thanks for sharing this peek into this conversation. I love that they were reading a story that wasn't written in English. How amazing! Then I love that their conversation was happening in two languages. I wish I had the gift of other languages. Most of all, I appreciated your reminder that often student engagement has something to do with us.


  2. I'm a literacy coach too. Every single day, I get the privilege of watching scenes like you share- teachers sharing their brilliance, wooing kids into the world of story! Pretty amazing!

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