Writing “Small Moments” in a K/1 Class

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As we continue to explore and discuss our year long social studies theme, Families & Homes, many conversations around Holiday traditions are coming up. In writing, we have been focusing on “small moments”, writing with focus, detail and dialogue. Since I attended the Teacher’s College Writing Institute in the summer, I’ve been keen on implementing the new writing tools I learned.

This is the abbreviated version of the “small moment” piece I modeled.

It was raining cats and dogs and I could barely see the road.

I gripped the steering wheel and I felt my heart pounding all

the way to my fingertips.  I said to my sister, “Poka, I’m

really nervous driving in this rain. What should we do?” 

Finally it stopped raining cats and dogs. It was sprinkling now

and I could see the road ahead. I felt relieved. I even started

to get excited about the many adventures we were

going to have in San Francisco!

The kids laughed when I wrote “cats and dogs”. I told them it was a figure of speech and I plan on having a mini lesson on that sometime in the future. I explained that when writing a “small moment” we focus on just one event and expand on it. I told my students that I could write about all the things that I did in San Francisco: the car trip, Golden Gate Park, my aunt’s house, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, the different restaurants, visiting with my cousins…

However, I was only writing about the moment when it rained hard as I drove to San Francisco. The kids asked, “How long was that?”  I said, “It rained for twenty minutes but it felt like an eternity for me because I was so nervous.”

Most of my students wrote about a small moment during the Thanksgiving break. As I sip my coffee on this Saturday morning while reading their writing pieces I am all smiles. Each and every student is making progress.

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This kinder friend told me how he was jumping so high on the trampoline his hair was escaping him. “My mom kept telling me to stop jumping on the trampoline because she was scared I was going to fall but I didn’t.”

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This first grader asked how to spell Thanksgiving. “Use your brave spelling. Say the word slowly and write the sounds you hear.”  FAXGIVEN – fantastic!

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This kinder friend surprised me! “I went to my grandma’s hotel.”

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This first grader added many details in her small moment writing piece. On her way back from New York, they had to wait in the airplane for two hours. Prior to writing I asked my students to tell me about their pictures. She shared that it was really boring but she kept herself busy by reading and drawing. She asked me, “What do you call the person who fixes airplanes?” I suggested, “Airplane mechanic and aircraft technician.” It was great to see that when she wrote she used  “airplane mkanik” – brave spelling at its best! She also incorporated “I felt relieved” from the writing piece I modeled.

Our little writers have become very comfortable and confident as they write. I wish I could video them to show how focused they are during writer’s workshop. After all these years teaching, observing their writing progress always feels like magic!

 

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ― Roald Dahl

My Mochila, Spanish on the Go! Multicultural books, lessons, global citizenry and more…

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My Mochila: Spanish on the Go! is a monthly curated box of Spanish language content and educational support for monolingual, heritage speakers, bilingual parents, teachers and educators.  Mochila means backpack in Spanish and it will open worlds to various learning opportunities.

*Each month your lesson plan of 18 activities will include:

         Literacy: Listening, Speaking, Reading & Writing

         Literature: Your child will receive a Spanish book to compliment themes

         Music: Your child will receive a Spanish CD

         Arts & Crafts: Everything needed to complete the project

         Parent Resources: Additional support & lessons  

 

The program is designed to assist adults teach Spanish with the help of culturally diverse materials, lesson plans and ongoing support from the My Mochila: Spanish on the Go! team. It provides children with authentic and relevant Spanish language books and lessons. Personally chosen multicultural literature, music, crafts and items are chosen to engage students in cross-curricular lessons while learning Spanish. The best part is that all materials needed will be delivered to their doorstep. It is sure to inspire a lifelong love of language learning and appreciation for cultural diversity.   

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Irma Vazquez, founder of My Mochila: Spanish On The Go! is reinventing what multicultural education and Spanish language learning in the early childhood and elementary years looks like.  My Mochila: Spanish on the Go! provides students with authentic culturally relevant items designed by indigenous groups throughout Latin America and Spain. My Mochila’s partnerships will provide sustainable wages to the countries the students are learning about.  By forging interconnected relationships with the artisans themselves, children and their families will further extend their global citizenship. My Mochila can be transformed from a Spanish language teaching tool to a collection of authentic multicultural heirlooms that can be passed down to future children and grandchildren for years to come.

Irma Vazquez has transformed multicultural and bilingual education. Irma possesses over two decades of hands on classroom teaching experience, including multicultural and second language instruction. She is also the co-founder and current owner of My Escuelita: Spanish For Kids.   She currently serves as a board member of the LMU School of Education Alumni Association. In 2012, Irma supported the launch of the first Southbay California Dual Language Immersion Program as a kindergarten teacher within the Redondo Beach Unified School District. In 2015, Irma was awarded the winner of the Latino Start Up Alliance Small Business Plan “Soy Empresaria” and has been prominently featured in South Bay Magazine. She was nominated for the 2015 National Latina Business Women’s Association “Woman in Excellence” Award and is an active member of the small business community in her local neighborhood. In addition, Irma acts as an expert teacher advisor and early childhood consultant with Little Ripples Preschool in Darfur, Africa and sits on the advisory board for Learning Rights in Los Angeles. She mentors and trains bilingual and general education students in the Elementary & Secondary credential program at Loyola Marymount University.

 

My Mochila: Spanish on the Go! is starting a Kickstarter campaign from November 2 – November 16. Here is the direct link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2106982487/675403170?token=8b927fd2

 

We are excited about this great opportunity to support language learning as well as supporting artisans in and around Latin America.

For more information please visit:

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Student Created Alphabet Cards

We have begun our year long social studies investigation on Families & Homes. Through picture books, family shares, systems thinking and essential questions, we hope to guide our little ones to understand how families and homes are inherently similar, while celebrating the unique differences of everyone’s family and home.

 

The three essential questions guiding our discussions are:

  1. How can families be the same and different?
  2. What systems does a family use to work together?
  3. What does a home give a family?

 

When asked, “What is something that you do with your family that warms your heart?”, students eagerly listed various activities particular to their families. Using their ideas, students created their own alphabet cards that will be posted in the classroom. Their ABC cards nicely link their use of systems thinking to their personal lives, their school and the learnings around Families and Homes. They are also adorable and extremely creative!

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We are only four weeks into our year long investigation, but our little ones have already concluded that the most important part of a family and home is love. Another recent comment is that family members aren’t necessarily those that you are born to.

I am looking forward to what I will learn from their conversations and how their wonderings will steer our investigation.

 

I sustain myself with the love of family. –Maya Angelou

 

Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards 2016

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Wonderful news…Monster Slayer / Exterminadora de monstruos has received a bronze medal for Best Spanish Language Picture Book. A huge thank you to Lina Safar – your illustrations are amazing. Also to Liliana Consentino, whose Spanish translations truly captured the sentiment of the book. I’m honored and proud of the picture book that together, we created. I think I shall go outside and celebrate with my family by doing handstands!

Congratulations to all the Moonbeam medalists! As an educator, I love everything about picture books. I see how they positively impact my students’ understanding of their world, community and relationships.

About the Awards

The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to celebrate children’s books and life-long reading. 

“Millie & The Lords” -Indie Film

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I attended the Los Angeles premiere of this film, Millie & The LordsIt was fantastic. As a Latina woman, Latina writer, Latina educator and Latina who has been raised in this country – yet attuned to cultural norms and customs of my family, this film resonated with me on many levels.

Millie & The Lords is the story of many people who are hungry for something more, yet circumstances say that living out one’s dream is not for them. Milagros Baez, a Puerto Rican woman in Spanish Harlem longs for a different life. With no one in her life, no one to believe in her, Millie doesn’t even believe in herself. However, as she learns about the Puerto Rican revolutionary group, The Young Lords, she discovers an inner strength and passion that she never knew was there. 

This relevant story is written by Jennica Carmona.  The film incorporates documentary material and inventive cinematography that honors the legacy of the Young Lords Party.

If you would like to arrange a screening at your school, university or community center, please contact Info@MillieandTheLords.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MillieAndTheLords/

Hopes & Dreams: Beginning of school activities.

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I attended a Responsive Classroom workshop, (a way of teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community) this past summer. I was excited about incorporating Hopes and Dreams, as well as other RC systems in my classroom this school year.

For the past three weeks, we have been working on learning school routines, class systems, and activities to foster kindness and mindfulness. We read books to help us discuss the sort of classroom we would like to be in and the ones we would not want to be in. I shared with the little ones that my intention for the school year was “joyous and harmonious”. Students came up with agreements that would support such an environment, and we eventually chose these five:

  • Be kind and gentle
  • Use inside voices
  • Participate
  • Walking Feet
  • S.L.A.N.T (sit up tall like a mountain, listen attentively, nothing in your hands and track the talker)

We then signed the classroom agreements and hung it in the class. We review them throughout the day, especially during transitions, which can be tricky!

Students also shared their Hopes and Dreams.  The banners are beautiful representations of the little ones we work with, but also serve as reminders of our class goals and the work we need to do. Wishing you a joyous and harmonious school year.

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Int’l Latino Book Awards 2016: Picture Book Winners

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The ILBA ceremony was held on Thursday, September 8, 2016 at Cal State University Dominguez Hills. A large community of Latino authors came together to celebrate the work and progress made in the literary world. Monster Slayer was awarded Honorable Mention: Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture book – Bilingual.

Here is a list of winners in the Children’s Picture Book Categories. Hopefully these books will make their way into classrooms and your homes.

Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual

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          Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book – English

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Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book – Spanish
Las Estrellas de los Reyes Magos, Tere Rodríguez-Nora; Illustrator: Walter Torres; Ediciones Norte, Inc.
Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – Bilingual
Robbie’s Big Soccer Game ~ La gran final de fútbol de Robbie, Jill Barletti;
Illustrator: Jelena Brezovec; Snowflake Stories, LLC
Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – English
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Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – Spanish
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Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Book – English
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Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Book – Spanish or Bilingual
                                                &
Best Educational Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual
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Best Educational Children’s Picture Book – English
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Best Educational Children’s Picture Book – Spanish
Mi Práctico Líbro de Escritura: Un Nuevo Método Divertido y Fácil para escribir Historias, Amada Irma Pérez, Ilustrado por: Lili Sosa; Writers’ Groups of Ventura & Beyond
Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual
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Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – English
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Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – Spanish
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Here is a complete list of winners in all categories:
Congratulations to all the ILBA 2016 winners!