My Escuelita’s Grand Re-Opening

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Yesterday, September 9, 2017 Irma Vázquez (founder and director) celebrated the grand re-opening of My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids, LLC. Live Spanish kids music by Nathalia and storytelling entertained the groves of families that came to celebrate. My Escuelita’s space has more than tripled in size to accommodate the growing classes of children attending this bilingual school.

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Credentialed teachers provide quality Spanish instruction, using best practices in second language acquisition and world language instruction. Spanish is taught through a myriad of approaches including music, dance, storytelling, crafts, movement and traditional methods.

We also got a treat by listening to Dr. Ma. Alma González Pérez read her bilingual children’s book, ¡Todos a Comer! – A Mexican Food Alphabet BookThis is a fun ABC book that I look forward to sharing in my K/1 classroom.

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If you are in the South Bay area, be sure to check out My Escuelita. They also provide various types of enrichment classes.

If you don’t live in the South Bay area and are eager for your children to experience the joys of language learning, Irma has personally curated My Mochila: Spanish on the Go!, a multi-cultural Spanish lesson subscription box for kids.

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For more information please visit:

My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids, LLC

1603 Aviation Blvd Suite #7,

Redondo Beach, Ca. 90278

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/myescuelita/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/myescuelita

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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:

Website

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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
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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!

Alma Flor Ada: Author Study

alma floor booksOur little ones have been learning about Alma Flor Ada for our author study. Alma Flor Ada is an award winning author of notable children’s books of poetry, narrative, folklore and non fiction. As an educator, I am a huge fan of her work, especially of her work in promoting immigrant students and parents to recognize how powerful their family stories truly are. Alma Flor Ada, Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco, has devoted her life to advocacy for peace by promoting a pedagogy oriented to personal realization and social jus­tice.

We began our author study by watching parts of this video. After getting a visual of what Alma Flor Ada looks like and sounds like, my little ones had a host of questions. One of them was, “Is she a grandma?” To which another student answered,”Yah, because she has white hair.”

Since Alma Flor has written over 200 books, we narrowed them down to the following:

After the Storm, How the Rainbow Came to Be, The Kite,  In the Cow’s Backyard,

Friend Frog, Jordi’s Star, The Rooser Who Went to His Uncle’s Wedding,

The Unicorn of the West, The Three Golden Oranges

I had never read Jordi’s Star, and my heart just fell in love with this story. During our book discussions I asked what had transpired in the story. A student said,”Jordi didn’t notice things (his environment) but when he started to do things just because he started to notice how beautiful things were around him.” What a wonderful book to use to emphasize how important it is to do things with love and to be present and mindful of NOW.

We also did a Reader’s Theater based on the book, After the Storm.

With the help of the Sun and the cooperation of Wind, Clouds, and Rain, a little seed grows up to be a beautiful plant. This story about the cycle of growth also lends itself to discussions of cooperation and interconnectedness.

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We performed for our third grade buddies and we will perform for our families our last week of school. The students also made animal masks using left over material from the visual arts room (keep your should pads!). Every student had a line and with much support, they were able to retell this beautiful story. The students noted that Alma Flor Ada’s books had many “juicy words” and her books were often about nature and magical stuff.

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The students also got inspired by Alma Flor Ada’s books. This little kinder blew our minds when she wrote this story. This student even wrote on the top – INSPIRED BY ALMA FLOR ADA – How special is this!

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We have enjoyed the magic of Alma Flor Ada’s stories.  Again, the hope is for students to see the magic of words, pictures and the sense of belonging to something bigger.

Alma Flor Ada, thank you for your stories. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observations on American Sign Language & Bilingual/Bicultural Education in Latino Communities

UC San Diego - School of Education in ASL/Bilingual    Studies

UC San Diego – School of Education in ASL/Bilingual Studies

My cousin Marco had a presentation at UC San Diego, where he received his graduate degree in American Sign Language, English Bilingual Education. The presentations were in American Sign Language (ASL) while several interpreters voiced what was being signed. While I listened with great interest, I saw the many similarities between the bilingual education program in the context of the deaf community and bilingual education programs in urban and Latino communities.

I was particularly interested in learning more about Anthony J. O’Donnell’s work. He said that hands, in the context of signing, can alter the meaning of words. The following day I got to spend some time with AJ over a cup of coffee.  I had never been in the company of a deaf person and was unsure how we were going to communicate. He brought along a tablet and began to communicate with me through writing. And while AJ is adept at writing quickly and effortlessly on the tablet, it took me a while to get through a thought. But he was patient as I spelled out words, finger by finger.

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I learned that just as spoken words have slight and varied nuances depending on pitch, tone, pronunciation and context, so do signed words. The rhythm and flow of hands, their movement, rate of signing as well as patterns used, add and change the nuances of their meaning. I thought of how words have shades of meaning and how these subtleties are sometimes challenging for English Language Learners (ELL’s) to grasp.

My cousin, who is a hearing individual, has been learning ASL. He loves languages, learning about their cultures and its people. He knows English, Spanish, Arabic and now ASL. He works in an urban school for the deaf with students who are predominantly Latino. During his presentation, Mark raised some valid points that I had never considered. Just like ELL’s are balancing English and a home native language, his students have several languages and forms of communications to contend with. Firstly, his high school students are born deaf, to hearing families. They come from immigrant families where Spanish is the home language.

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Another presenter mentioned the need for deaf children to read and learn about deaf role models so that they see themselves in literature, history, music, and the community at large. This again highlights the need for teachers, parents and librarians to include multicultural literature in schools so that underrepresented children or children of color recognize the inherent beauty of their culture and language.

I shared with AJ that the presentations made me realize how similar the struggles and needs of the deaf community are between ELL’s and those that are considered “others” in American mainstream culture.  AJ openly shared that he knows what it feels like to not be seen, not heard and not validated. And while I do not share the struggles he has faced as a deaf individual, I can empathize because as a Latina daughter of immigrant parents, my experience has been one of straddling two worlds. I have my mainstream English world and the culture of my home where English and Spanish are mixed together, Spanglish.  My childhood friends and I have mastered the ability to codeswitch, depending on who we are speaking to. When in a professional setting, we speak with each other using academic English. When we are together in a relaxed setting, we speak to each other in Spanglish, use urban words and phrases and other forms of colloquialisms. However, mainstream culture says that only academic English is considered correct and that the culture my family is from is somehow less than. But when we consider the main function of language, it is to communicate, to express oneself, to connect.

I feel fortunate for having been introduced to the deaf community, or as AJ prefers, the signing community. It has its own language system (ASL): a language system that is not made up of simple hand gestures, but a system with intricate structures that allows for the deaf community to communicate with each other just as deeply and profoundly as any other language in the hearing community.

AJ- thank you for teaching me something new, for allowing me to ask you a million questions and mostly for your gracious manner and intellect. You are a brilliant man.

Marco- felicidades primito. Your curiosity and passion never ceases to amaze me.

Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varies. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.

-Noam Chomsky