On Languages and History

Thoughts for us international teachers:

  1. How do we make sure that the concepts and content we teach are relevant and within our local context, while maintaining global perspectives?

  2. How much history do we know about the current country we are in and whose perspective/hat are we carrying in learning about it? How do we instill critical thinking and culture appreciation in teaching and learning humanities and societies?

  3. How does translanguaging happen in our classroom?  How much do we really know about the language learning process of multi-lingual children?  How much of our language teaching and learning influence our students’ worldview?

The other day, I saw an FB post about how Filipinos uphold white supremacy, stating: ‘We show preference to those with light skin. We tell kids to pinch their noses to make them tall. We mock heavy Filipino accents. We elevate white mixed Pinoys, while persecuting indigenous people.’ It is sad because is it’s true.  This is the kind of mentality I grew up with. Friends made fun of friends and batch mates who can’t speak the kind of English we see on American movies and I was surrounded by strict grammarians. The funny thing is when I started traveling, I met people from all over the world and learned that about 7 billion people in this planet don’t care about me not having proper American English and accent.  I don’t know where the pressure to be fluent in English came from, it just existed in me and many of my peers throughout our youth, as if the better you are with it, the more educated you are. So yes, I don’t deny the white supremacy mentality that I grew up with, but as it was normalized then, I didn’t really know how ridiculous it was and I am also not proud of it. I don’t think I consciously and intentionally uphold it, and I don’t think many of my Filipino friends do either. In retrospect: it’s really weird but logical considering the Philippine’s history of colonialism.

My childhood friend, Anna Miren, was super spot on with her Instagram post and I do think that her point is the very culprit of this issue. In her recent post connecting PH to #blacklivesmatter, she highlighted her beautiful experience with our very own aetas, our negritos, our very own blacks, and wishes that our schools teach a ‘deeper multi-cultural Philippine history’. In my education (and perhaps Miren’s as we studied in the same school), I learned more about the rule of the Spanish and the Americans, more than the way of life of our indigenous and who they really are. I wish our history classes helped us understand more the stories and roots of our native people, their food, our languages, art, tattoos, beliefs and values. I have to commend my school though for teaching us many folk songs and instruments, and I think my best friend who went to the same school would agree to this. I hope, too, that within the lessons on Spanish and American colonialism, students are taught to critically think about the practical consequences (both positive and negative) of these events, because in my opinion, this is how we truly appreciate the literature, poetry and lives (and death) of our national heroes- having colonial mentality as one of the consequences.

To this day, I still struggle a bit with pronouns- he, she, it, they, they’re all people to me. I still get corrected by my colleagues and Filipino friends, but I’m more thankful for it than shameful. I also love my brown skin and have no shame playing tennis under the piercing sun at noon. It’s interesting for me to learn how many shades of brown and black are there. I’ve been called brown, morena, tan, caramel, but yes my Filipino friends still call me negra, which I full heartedly embrace. I teach my students English, but I also teach them Tagalog. I teach them Hindi expressions, and I sometimes unintentionally speak to them in Russian. In my class, they can speak whatever language they want, even Korean since my students are obsessed with Black Pink and BTS. I’ve started learning Vietnamese so soon enough hopefully I get to converse with them using their mother tongue. I’ve made peace with my potato nose because it’s pretty special as it has become my family’s legacy.

Today is the independence day of the Philippines:  Maligayang Araw ng Kalyaan, Pilipinas!  True independence come from within us, where we value the discovery and re-discovery of who we are, and what we normalize is the appreciation of our very roots, language and local efforts.  Hopefully, this will give us a place in the world where we radiate national identity and security vs. white supremacy, nor any kind of supremacy.

Conceptual Learning in Additional Languages

Because there are a lot of basic necessities needed when learning a new language (eg. alphabet, parts of speech, basic interpersonal skills, etc.) Additional Langauge (AL) teachers may feel the pressure to laser focus on teaching language content.  While this is very important, there is a way to pursue it in an integrated manner.  We can do this through conceptual learning.

When concepts and approaches fitting for the development and language needs of our students are the starting points of language teaching, we naturally open different possibilities for our students, without losing the essentials of learning a new language.  This blog shares the process that I and my students went through learning about the concept of ‘sequencing’ for 7 weeks.  I also shared some teaching strategies that you might be helpful for your AL class.

Background.  I teach English as an Additional Language (EAL) in a context wherein English almost does not exist in the environment.  This is not your usual ‘pull-out, push-in’ type of EAL model.  In our context, therefore, it is crucial to explicitly teach language content, structures and skills.  Repeated exposure and practice are also extremely important as our students only get English exposure during EAL class time.

The Design of the Unit and Collaboration Matter.  In my Grade 4 EAL Beginner class, we learned about the concept of sequencing, with form and function as our key concepts (7 weeks).  Since they are learning about ‘Healthy Living’ in their Unit of Inquiry, the teachers and I thought that the students could learn how to share a healthy food recipe, alongside learning other EAL practical skills and language function.  The overview of the unit looks something like this:

Listening and Speaking Reading Strategies Writing Vocabulary Viewing and Presenting

giving clear sequenced instructions

giving clear sequenced directions (using map)

describing events in a familiar story

on-going: making requests (eg. May I go to the toilet?)

answering literal questions (from recipe and short stories and play scrips)

sequencing events

describing the events in the picture

on-going:  using the dictionary and reading fluently and with feelings (play-scripts)


sequencing words


subject-verb agreement (singular, plural, verb)

simple present tense

using a graphic organizer to sequence (flow map)


cooking verbs and usual ingredients (bread, vegetables, dough, etc.)

UOI integration:  healthy, words related to nutrition, balance

directions- go straight, turn left, etc.

vocabulary found in our reading passage

using Class Dojo to share ‘How To’ video and journal

viewing and using simple maps to share directions

using a flow map to share the sequence of instruction and direction



Knowing Where Your Students Are Matters.  At the beginning of the unit, I asked the students to use a flow map and share how to they brush their teeth in the correct sequence. They struggled not because they do not know the proper order of brushing their teeth, but because they did not have the tools, vocabulary and language to sequence events.  This is typical in many of our students, especially that we do not have an English environment.  The beauty of pre-assessment is you get to be more targeted with how to help your students.  Your students will be able to understand their own progress.

The Process Matters:  Visible learning.  As we went on with the unit, we learned many vocabulary words, repeatedly read the same storybooks (apart from their chosen storybooks every library time) and repeatedly practiced the same skills and language structures.  Making learning visible is extremely helpful for the students.  Observing color codes for different parts of speech help them make sense of sentence structure and pattern.  Making a process visible (like giving step by step direction of how to use a Russian-English dictionary, a step by step breakdown of subject-verb agreement, defining ‘Success Criteria’) help students become more independent and in charge of developing their skills and understanding.

IMG_0657Students learned how to use the dictionary, and demonstrated the IB attitude cooperation


Illustrating the flow map to share the sequence of ‘how to make a ham sandwich’

IMG_9949September 5 work shows that students are still learning how to structure their thoughts

IMG_0658Example: explicit teaching of vocabulary, parts of speech and language structure, and repeated practice in both familiar and unfamiliar contexts
IMG_9950September 19 work shows students apply the structure learned independently in a familiar context.


A student initiates to correct himself.


A student initiates to complete her task successfully by reminding herself of the language structure learned in class


Students sequence events in familiar stories (applying sequence words), and learning how to describe events in the story


An example of discussing ‘Success Criteria’ and making it visible to the students



A student making his own strategy to remind himself of the correct subject-verb agreement (place a box at the end of the verb)

Paying Close Attention Matters: Stations Day.   During Stations Day, I get to focus on assessing students’ progress, give a more personalized feedback and reteach with a small group of students, while the other students work on different activities.  I usually have three stations, and I always make one station fun and practical.  For example, the students love the ‘Games Station’ because they like playing games, but they also know that they have to speak English while playing.




The first picture (left), the students and I are practicing a speaking and listening exercise (giving directions using a map).  The other students are focused on their writing task and playing games.

Advantages of Conceptual Learning.  As the concept of sequencing tie the learning objectives in different language areas, the students were able to understand that sequencing is a skill that can be applied in different situations. They also understand that they can use the same language structures for different purposes; for example, in giving instructions, in giving directions, in telling a story, in describing events in stories and even in writing a simple sentence.  And because the concept is embedded across different language areas, the skills, content and target vocabulary were naturally repeated and practiced over and over, which are extremely necessary for our context.

Application in Different Ways Relevant to the Student. One of the students’ final unit assessments was a differentiated task.  The students can choose to do one or more tasks below (applying what they have learned in class):

  1. Share a healthy recipe- flow map, written and oral sharing
  2. Share directions from the Grade 4 class to any place in the classroom (pretend you’re helping a new student)- make a map, written and oral sharing
  3. Share instructions of a favorite thing you like to do (eg. How to play football)- flow map,  written and oral sharing

The tasks were a combination of familiar and unfamiliar tasks.  It’s rewarding to see that the very students who initially cannot give simple directions (how to brush their teeth) looked very excited and confident sharing instructions in correct sequence.


What is the Main Goal of EAL?

Six months ago, I wrote an article which clearly reflected how confused I was with EAL teaching and learning. As I am learning more and more about the world of EAL, I thought of sharing my thoughts and what I have been learning.


My Grade 2 students sharing how they could improve their English skills

What is the main goal of EAL. Answering this, I thought that a more conceptual approach to this question is asking what is the goal of learning any language anyway? There are multiple answers to this question- we can go from the most practical to the most scholarly ones. But simply put, I have come to understand that the goal is to communicate and understand meaning.

‘Learning the meaning of things’ is not quite a simple task to do- not for the teacher, not for the student. This involves learning within a context, culture, certain expressions or words that could have multiple meanings, slang and basically understanding people’s way of life. The meaning of words and phrases develop with time, technology and even with how ‘playful’ people could be. It could be highly subjective and reveals multiple realities—this, by the way, shouldn’t be seen as a problem, but an evidence of how fascinating language could be.

So I say that learning the meaning of things requires constructivism within authentic experiences, a sense of immersion, a sense of imagination. I know a lot of teachers now are aware that language learning  requires more than the rigidity of forms, structures, grammar and skills development. However, more stress should be placed upon understanding that the essentials of language learning involve global awareness and values, such as empathy, open-mindedness and risk-taking. Therefore, as a language teacher, the goal is to help my students use language (in any form) to adapt to both typical and unique situations, to express, to understand, and most of all, to belong. I didn’t really expect that I’d end up with a ‘world peace’ kind of answer to this question, but in retrospect, much of the hostility in the world do stem from miscommunication.

As an additional language teacher, I strive for meaning and use a realistic and relevant contexts to teach language features, structures and skills. Value local and global perspectives in our classrooms so our students will come to realise that learning any language will help them see the world differently.

‘A different language is a different vision of life.’ – Federico Fellini





True Friendship with Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B White with my class will always be a class favorite.  It’s my second year to read the book with my students and it still makes me feel so emotional (as if I’m reading it for the very first time).  I cry inside…over a pig and a silent-martyr spider.  This book is an excellent reminder of what true friendship is all about.


As we went through our Literature Circle discussions, the students learned different reading strategies and had mini-lessons about the elements of a story.  We also learned about different Literature Circle roles, which helped the students analyze the chapters in a fun way.  Of course, there were some students who were not very interested in reading but the roles helped them become accountable for their reading journey as they know that they had important parts to play during the small group discussions.  There was that collective-unifying feeling during our Literature Circle sessions that encouraged everyone to read.

Some thoughts from my students:

‘It’s not only what your friends do for you, it’s how good you are to your friends… Literature Circle help us feel the book (feel emotional).  We can have a mental image of what’s happening.’-  Noella

‘I learned that friendship is really important in life because Wilbur and Charlotte helped each other in matters of life and death…I have many questions that were not answered but after (I became) the passage picker, I understood the passages better.’ –  Archit

‘The most important thing that the book taught me is that friends will come and go…I learnt that since we have been reading Charlotte’s Web, it has given me an idea that reading is fun.’ –  Raven

‘True friends are really rare.  Friends just come and go.  True friends can teach you things of great value and you can help them too. True friends remain and keep a bond.’ -Anjolie

‘I liked the book because it was very interesting and fun.  Also because when one problem was solved, another would come and it would become more interesting.’ –  Valmik

‘True friendship (can happen) even if we are alike or different, like Charlotte and Wilbur’s friendship is very true.  I have learned to identify important words in a paragraph (vocabulary words).’ – Rehan

‘I give this book 5 stars because I think it really deserves it.  It has made me interested and engrossed and I had lots of fun reading it.  In the end it was a little emotional.’ –  Sankhya

‘You can care about people and animals who are not perfect, like Wilbur, he’s a runt.  I learned to use expression when reading…I learned how to write a summary.’ –  Rohan

After we read the book, the students suggested to watch the film (directed by Gary Winick).  The curiosity of whether the movie depicted the story like how they did gave me an insight about how the book impacted their thinking and interest.  True enough, as we watched the film, they were predicting the next scenes, noting scenes which are not in the book and shared things they were surprised about (like how they imagined the characters before watching the film).  They were delighted to see the characters and the story come to life, not only in their imagination but in the film as well.

We ended the unit by creating individual Charlotte’s Web projects.  The students shared their understanding of the book through their chosen products (book calendar, diary, accordion books, etc.)  This eventually led us to decorating our library with the purpose of encouraging other students to read the book as well.

DSC_1089 (800x550) DSC_1127 (800x590) DSC_1131 (800x591)  DSC_1219 (800x591) DSC_1220 (800x600) DSC_1222 (800x600) DSC_1223 (800x582) DSC_1224 (800x581)

I’m very confident to say that the students thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will never, ever, forget the story, the lessons that came with it and the journey shared with their…friends.

DSC_1216 (800x599)

Math and Stories

We recently finished our Language Unit on Stories so my partner and I thought that it will be interesting to integrate stories with our Maths unit on Division.  We thought of tuning in our students into word problems by asking them to write simple division stories (with clues).  We wanted to see the language they’ll use, their understanding of the concept and we wanted to see how they’ll strategize and translate the concept into word problems or stories.  I’ve known about this engagement before, but this is the first time I’m tried it out.

This simple engagement brought about so much more than I expected.  I was amazed to witness how this engagement encouraged creativity and other skills like resolving conflict.  Though they were all given same clues (winning 175 tickets) yet they all came up with different stories that reflected how they handle problems.   Their stories also reflected how they see the world, their likes and dislikes.

This was something I and the kids truly enjoyed.  It inspired me to be more creative in planning Maths engagements, to give more open-ended tasks and to never underestimate what the kids can come up with!

(Stories unedited)


“One day four children named Alisha, Shub, Geronimo and Mudra went to the amusement park.  In the bowling game, they earned 175 tickets.  In the mean time, Mudra started to fight and then everbody started because they didn’t get equal tickets.  When they were fighting Geronimo got an idea that they should divide the tickets.  They divided 175÷4.  They got the quotient 43.  They remainder they got was 3.  Each got 43 but they got three extra and there were 4 kids.  So they teared the tickets and lived happily ever. The end”  –  Shub and Alisha


“One day, Malvika, Alisha and Vedangi went to the amusement partk just for fun.  First they played the bowling game and won 175 tickets but they did not know how to divide the tickets.  After awhile, we saw Ms. Katrina teaching Rishi division, so we three went there and asked Ms. Katrina to explain us division too.  Ms. Katrina said, “In division we have to make groups of equal amount and it is also called as repeated subtraction.”  Vedangi asked Ms. Katrina, “Ma’m how to divide amongst us?”  So, Ms. Katrina took out a paper and pens from her bag and solved the problem on the paper and showed us how to divide. So last only 1 ticket left so Malvika said now who can get the last ticket?  We all started thinking who can get the last ticket so Alisha said “Maybe we can give to Rishi.”  – Vedangi and Malavika


“One day Tanav and Rishi decided to go to Karla Phoenix Market city, Timezone.  We called Vir, Chahit and JK with us to Timezone.  All of us won a lot of tickets.  When they were about to go and take a gift, they started to fight and all of them were telling, ‘This is mine!” We were keep on fighting.  Between our fight Tanav got an idea of dividing the tickets amongst us.  175 ÷ 5=35.  All of us got equal tickets and each of us got 35 tickets.  All of us played bowling.  We wen to the gift counter and bought our gifts.  We all went to our homes.  We played with our gifts.  We never fought again and if this situation occurs again then we will use division.  Thank you for listening to our story. ” –Tanav and Rishi


“Me and my three friends went to the bowling alley in the amusement park and earned 175 tickets.  But we were fighting for the three tickets left after distributing.  Tanav said that the leader gets the remaining tickets, but Ramu didn’t agree.  Ramu advised that they should use the three tickets for everybody’s like on a game that costs 3 tickets they can buy it and all the four will own the game.”  –Devajna and Arnav


“Derek, Arjun, Shivank and Vir went to the amusement park and earned 175 tickets in the bowling game.  The problem was that they had to divide the tickets equally among themselves.  They tried many ways to divide equally but they could not.  To find out how many tickets each person needs they have to divide 175 with 4.  Derek told Arjun, Shivank and Vir that to find out how many tickets, you have to use a technique called long division.  Arjun asked Derek how long division is done.  Derek said that he does not know long division but he can ask someone.  They saw a man and they asked him “What is 175÷4.  “He said 43.”  Then they thanked him and divided the tickets but 3 were left so they gave them to the man who helped them.” –  Shivank and Arjun

Read aloud with a Twist!


Last March 6, we celebrated the World’s Read Aloud Day with a twist!  My class celebrated it by reading aloud the Indian folktale “How the Summer Queen Came to Kashmir” to a Grade 4 class from an international school in Hong Kong.  The read aloud was done through Skype.  We thought that by reading aloud the said tale, it will help students from Hong Kong know more about the rich culture and places of India.  The other class read aloud poems from the book called Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman.  We had a great time listening to the poems as they read it creatively.

It is the first time that my class had this engagement.  There were challenges like communication, arranging the schedule and the quality of the internet connection.  In the actual read aloud, it was hard to hear and understand each other, but somehow we got through the event smoothly.  Everyone seemed to enjoy, especially the part when my students and the other class were given the opportunity to say hi to each other.  I think in away, my class was amazed seeing other kids from another part of the world.

What I love the most about the engagement is that first of all, it promoted global mindedness by taking part on an event that is celebrated worldwide.  Tanja Galleti, a primary Librarian from an international school in Hong Kong, just twitted about the event.  I replied back as I was interested with it.  She had this wonderful idea of reading aloud through Skype, and I thought that was a good opportunity for my class.  Without her help and initiative, this event would have not been possible.  She was the one who arranged the schedule between me and Andrea Onken, the Grade 4 teacher from Hong Kong, despite her busy schedule.  Of course, much thanks to Andrea as well, as she was also open to do the read aloud with my class.  With this simple interactive activity, we know that we have encouraged reading around the world.


Secondly, I like that we showed that education is border-less.  In that simple 30 minutes read aloud from both classes, my class learned how to observe and listen, how to model certain behaviour from other students from a different country, and how to use technology to help us learn.  That simple 30 minutes was an opportunity for my students to be communicators, to be open-minded, and a chance to develop self-management skills.  That simple 30 minutes gave us the opportunity to have new friends.

Thirdly, I like how the three of us- Tanja, Andrea and I- were all strangers to each other, yet are united by the same aim and love for collaboration, technology and a global approach to learning.  I don’t know them personally, and I’ve never even worked with them before, but this certainly showed that when there is a goal, openness and some sense of familiarity, strangers can be great company.  Thank you Tanja, Andrea and your wonderful students.  More and more educators are collaborating on-line and I believe that this is one of the best practices a teacher could ever take advantage of.  So thank you for all the selfless teachers out there who keep on sharing and sharing and sharing!  It’s a small world after all, and there is this simple girl in India who highly appreciates you all.

Like what I said, simple as the engagement may be, it brought things that are essential to teaching and learning.  Simple effort like this gives an opportunity for us and our students to be internationally minded.  I’m definitely looking forward to doing this again.

What Charlotte Taught Us: On Reading, Strategies and IB Learner Profile & Attitudes

At last! After 2 months, we have finished our adventure with Charlotte, Wilbur and the rest of the barn.  As this was our first time to run the Literature Circle, I didn’t really expect much from the students.  Feedback time and I, again, was surprised by my young readers.

My grade 4 shared that the Literature Circle helped them to gain friends and to be open-minded to what others have to share.  They learned how to encourage themselves and each other.  They said that to make our discussions better, the class should show more cooperation, open-mindedness and independence. They added that it helped them be more enthusiastic and committed to reading.

What we have learned from the book:  Love, friendship and so much more!


“That even if you’re very small like a spider or an ant, you can save someone’s life…”


“I understand that in life anything can happen…like a spider and a pig can be friends…so even a human can be a dog’s friend.  Whenever I see someone fighting, I’ll stop them and say you are friends…”


“It’s all about loyalty, faith and friendship.  Sometimes I feel like Wilbur…because I also, like him, feel very lonely at times…”

What we learned about reading:  Before and Now…


“I used to think that reading is just for fun…but now I think reading is something you can learn from…”


“…every book has adventure, mystery and suspense.”


“…I used to think that you read because you can say ‘…I’m better than you.’  But now when Literature Circle started, I realized that if you don’t read, you’re lost and you don’t know what to do…”


“I used to think that reading is just reading…reading is not only reading, it is something that the author is trying to share…”


“…Now I think reading is not just for fun, but to help us understand life…”

Reading Strategies that Work!


“…reading with expression because if we read with expressions, we know the character more and what it is feeling…keeping a routine of reading.”


“…I could talk with the characters and they would talk back to me again after a minute…my post it strategy helped and re-reading, stop and review and last but not the least predicting my favorite…”

On IB Learner Profile and Attitudes…


“…respect and enthusiasm are the main…”


“…confidence that I can finish the book…open-minded to myself for difficult words because I get irritated very fast.”


“The attitude integrity because in the book the characters were telling words like sorry, thank you…”


“…risk-taker by reading some hard words…empathy and commitment by reminding myself to read…”

I feel very happy and fulfilled as a teacher that there were changes in how my students view reading. The Literature Circle helped them with their attitude, not only with reading, but toward themselves and others.  I think I’m most proud that they opened their little world to a book that they never knew can make an impact to their learning.  They opened their little world to others, and took risks to be in a world that they can still further explore.

And now, one thing’s for sure- we are all very excited for our next set of books!  Hooraay!

Literature Circle: A fun and surprising journey


“Hot Seat”

Our Literature Circle journey continuous to be fun and surprising.  It’s a slow but sure process for all of us.  It is definitely a fun and meaningful way to learn reading!

The Beginning

For our first try, we started with one book- Charlotte’s Web, as all of them have purchased the books already. My purpose really is to introduce them to the routine, which included making reading as a habit, sharing of ideas and applying strategies to help us read.  Of course, I expected the first month to be challenging, but I know it will be a meaningful learning process for everyone.

Our major challenges were:  a) managing schedule, b)   adjusting to the routine, c) motivating each other to read and accomplish our assigned tasks,  d) being open with each other in sharing our ideas.

What did not work:  a)  making the routine, literally just a routine (it’s good to give something fresh to the students, like a new engagement we can do as a class, and not just in groups),  b)  failing to follow up with the students on their discussions and over all experience, c) not asking feedback from the students.

What worked:  a) collaborating the schedule and making sure that there is balance (stand alone, integration with the unit, literature circle time), b) trying to do things consistently, following the agreed schedule and consistently encouraging each other, c) students agree on their group goals and tasks,  d)  consistent conference with each group with clear expectations.


The Egg Sac

The Egg Sac is one of my favorite chapters in the book.  At the beginning of the story, Charlotte introduced the wonders and strengths of a spider, but in this chapter, she started to reveal all her worries, her fragile side, and how she still struggles to be strong.  I can’t help but feel emotional about it, simply because this is a feeling I am able to relate to and understand.  During a discussion with a group of 5 students, they shared that Charlotte reminded them of the pain of their mothers- how their mothers try their best to help them, do as much things as they can to support them with their needs.  But it didn’t end there. They shared more intimate stories about their families, which I didn’t really expect to hear from them.  They shared about their cousins and specific hardships their families went through, the times when some of their family members were hospitalized, their feelings for them.  I felt some of them were even surprised about how honest they were with each other.  But that moment really helped all of us to relate with the book, to understand how we are all connected.  We further talked about the worries of Charlotte and I asked them to make connections by sharing their own worries.  While I was expecting to hear worries about school tasks and not being able to get the toys they want, they did share that sometimes they worry about death and the unknown.  What would happen to them, how scary it must be not to know what will happen next, the uncertainties of life.  Wow!  I thought this was pretty deep for my kids.  I had one of the best conversations of my life.

This Lit Circle discussion was one of the best I had so far.  It took time for my students to open up and appreciate the story, but I saw how they developed to be young readers.  They are learning to understand the characters in a deeper sense, showing some sense of empathy because they themselves know how the characters feel.  It didn’t just help them become readers.  It also helped them become risk-takers, communicators, open-minded and empathic.

Their success is my success

Right now, I feel successful because I can see that most of my students are aware of the different reading strategies that work for them.  We also have our class favorites such as making connections, comparing characters, hot seat, readers’ theater and visualization as reading strategies and engagements.  I feel successful because I see my students feel good about reading, because they can share their thoughts about what they’re reading, because deep down inside they have a story to tell.

What I’ve learned from the experience is that we can’t force children to read.  What we can do is show them that reading is fun and meaningful by giving them the opportunity to read.  By helping them read and by helping them feel that they shouldn’t feel pressured if they don’t read the same way as the others.  That reading will give them a sense of belonging and they’re not just merely a book of words that we decode. That reading is not just a tool to make them smarter, but a way to help them understand ourselves, others and the world.

So, how are you like Charlotte?  And how are you helping your students realize this?