This semester, students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Lily Garcia

As a bilingual teacher most of us teachers constantly ask ourselves what are the most effective reading practices? What are some examples of daily vocabulary practices? Is there an improvement in student test scores when strategies are used daily? Findings suggest that literature can be taught through the use of movement, technology, and graphic organizers amongst others are the most effective strategies used to help bilingual students improve reading comprehension and vocabulary usage. It is very important to incorporate movement; technology and graphic organizers into daily practices in reading and vocabulary instruction with in a bilingual education primary classroom so the students will show improvement in the use of new acquired vocabulary and reading comprehension. My focus will be on English language learners in primary grades within a bilingual education classroom setting.

Investigations on which strategies best help students improve their reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. These terms are used to define a student that is coming from a Spanish speaking background into learning English as a second language. English language learners are a very special population. The bilingual population is currently on the rise in the in United States. In the year 2000, 18% of people spoke a language other than English; by 2030, this is projected to increase to 40% (Bowers 5). Therefore, there needs to be differentiation for the bilingual population.

There is an overflow of strategies to help English language learners increase their English language skills, but this study is to investigate which practices work best with students in a primary grade, pre-kinder through second. Bilingual students reported that they skip the parts they don’t understand in a story and they repeat words over and over again while they read (Padron 687). The future of successfully educating English language learners will require teachers to support language acquisition every day in every classroom and during every lesson (Bowers, 4). There are many strategies used in classrooms to help English language learners improve on their reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. The data suggest that Latina/o students who are successful English readers possess a qualitatively unique fund of strategic reading knowledge (Jimenez 91). Reading and vocabulary go hand in hand. The more a person reads leads to a obtaining a better vocabulary. The National Reading Panel found that teaching students comprehension strategies was important to their growth as readers (Sousa, 2011). Therefore, knowing the importance of strategies, which are indeed the most effective and which strategies are useful to those students in a bilingual classroom setting. Strategies are teaching methods used to add creativity in a lesson and to help students better retain the presented information. Teachers need to be creative; the days of paper/pencil worksheets are over. These strategies will help to present information in new way to help increase reading and vocabulary skills in English language learners.

One strategy that improves reading and vocabulary is the incorporation of technology. Technology provides a visual for students and makes the lesson more concrete as opposed to abstract. Today’s students have a much easier access of technology because it is an ever improving medium. It seems like today’s students literally have the world at their fingertips thanks to modern technology. Students benefit when teachers use multimedia in presenting lessons because the media usage adds context to the language and the lessons (Herrell, 2004).

This semester, students in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Gracie Mata

As a third grade bilingual teacher, I have found that it can be extremely difficult for bilingual students to grasp several mathematical concepts without the use of visual aids. Recently I stumbled across a series of books named MATH START written by Stuart J. Murphy which provide students with realistic life stories and good visual support for math concepts. His goal throughout these books is to provide visual learning strategies that can be used to show how something works, demonstrate academic ideas, and teach new concepts.

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These stories combine math concepts along with the visualization needed to help students understand and become more fluent in mathematics.   The combination of math and text allow them to form a connection to the real world and make their learning relevant. These books produce a balance between the math and the story, providing visual and text.

As an introduction to a new math concept I have incorporated many of these books into my math lessons. To begin a math lesson I scan the book and create a flipchart, incorporating questions in between slides to help create discussion. This also allows it to become more interactive for the students. Some of the most favorable books I’ve used in my class are Probably Pistachio, Racing Around, and Betcha!

A difficult concept for students to grasp is estimation, so the book BETCHA is a great way for students to understand how the concept is used in real life situations that require estimation. The book is about a boy who wants to win tickets to an event but has to guess how many jellybeans are in a bottle, so he estimates approximately how many rows of jellybeans there are by how many in each row and estimates correctly.

Another favorite is Probably Pistachio which shows probability; this book can also be used to teach predicting outcomes. This book really targets the vocabulary in the lesson and uses it repeatedly in content; this is a great method when teaching ELL’s a new concept.

The books are well written in the way that the math content does not interfere or overpowers the story, and that the story doesn’t control the topic to where the math gets lost.

Visual Learning is a method that allows students to fully engage in math through stories that use illustrations, diagrams, graphs, symbols and other visual models.   It can also be used to make sense of difficult information quickly.   It is said that visual learning is an essential part of our communication process and through communication many things can be better explained and understood.

This series can be a possible tool for all students struggling to make a connection with math concepts. The visual aids used in these books and in the story lines are inspired to cater to the needs and likes of children.

Wanted: Willy, Charlie, Oompa Loompa, Veruca etc…

This semester, students in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Lorena Cardenas

I’ve got four golden tickets. What do you get in a classroom that discusses literature? You get students completely engaged in novels. Just like adults, students should have a chance to make ample and relevant connections between themselves and the characters in the story.   In 18 years of teaching, I have observed that there is more student interest when given literature that enables them to make real world connections with the opportunities to share with peers. This enables the students to have a “risk free” learning environment and encourages them to want to share more.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl has been one of my favorite novels to use in my third grade class; I have read it to my students for the past 16 years. There are several activities my students have enjoyed after reading the entire novel.  In these activities classroom talk is a must, and the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy is implemented (rigor).

Wanted Signs

im1147Students are placed in collaborative groups, usually in groups of three. Students pick a character from the novel (Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, Grandpa Joe, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teavee, Augustus Gloop, and an adult male or female Oompa Loompa). Before their creation, students gather in literacy groups to discuss and agree on their ideas. Each student must have a role (group facilitator, summarizer, questioner etc…). Students create a “wanted” sign with an illustration of the character. The illustration should be created using textual evidence for the perfect description of their character. The sign must include the reason why the character is wanted, and the reward they would give. They can create a made up phone number to call or a made up website.   When all signs are finished, students may display their work to create a gallery walk. Here the students can evaluate each other’s work with sticky notes.

Four Corners

In this activity, the teacher displays any four characters students select to discuss. The teacher places the names on the corner of the classroom. Students walk to the corner, to the character they can relate to or wish they could be like. Every student must be accountable to share their thoughts. Students use a “talking chip (bingo chip) to express their thoughts. The talking chip is placed in a container that is located in each corner. The teacher facilitates the discussion to probe some higher order thinking.

Take a Stand

im2In the novel Willy Wonka rewards the naughty children with a lifetime supply of chocolate. One side of the classroom will be that they agree with Wonka, and the other side will disagree. Students choose the side they prefer, but must justify why. Again, each student must be accountable for the discussion (talking chips may be used). If some students are undecided, the students stay in the middle of the classroom. It is the job of the others to persuade the undecided students to join their side.


jigsawIn this activity, reading objectives can be addressed. Place students in a “home group,” then give a skill (summary, problem solution, vocabulary words, connections, questioning) to one in each group. Each group, according their skill, will join the “expert group.”  The skill will be completed by the expert groups. Each student must be accountable for sharing their ideas. The teacher should facilitate to ensure that all students participate in completing their skill. When they have addressed their skill by writing their answers, they return to their home group to share the work. The teacher can announce, one at a time, for each skill to present. Timing each presenter helps to keep students engaged and on task. Using the jigsaw protocol will create the students as teachers of the objective instead of the teacher doing all the talking.

Of course, these activities lend themselves through varied types of literature. I used Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because not only is one of my favorite, it is a tale that can stand the test of time.


This semester, students in READ 6310 Children and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By L. Ramos

Incorporating and promoting literacy in and out of school is crucial in motivating and encouraging story time. Implementing a variety of ways to induce literacy in every child may inspire parents and caregivers into story time too. Short activities before, during, or after reading may engage children into the desire to look at and use books for interest and enjoyment. Children’s imagination is a key element in jump starting a love for books. In doing so, literary activities are mere extensions of the reading essentials needed to promote literacy. Here are some useful motivational literary activities:

 Finish It Your Way!    

Read a short story, poem, or nursery rhyme. Ask students about how they would change the ending. Have students write their ending and add their own illustrations to demonstrate their response. Allow them to share their responses. This activity promotes critical thinking.


Puppets. Puppets, Puppets!

Read a short story or play. Use puppets to act out the scenes to engage children kinesthetically, visually, and orally. Puppets are extremely useful in conveying role playing to express feelings and/or scenarios allowing open discussion and interactions among the children and the characters.


In Other Words…

Do a picture walk using a picture book. Create your own story using its pictures. Then allow students to tell or write their own tale about the picture book. It’s also a great way to reinforce grammar and spelling rules.


Speak Right Up!

A microphone is a great way to allow the child to express himself/herself using oral language. The student may assume the role of a character in a story or respond to literary questions using the microphone.   They can also be placed in the reading center for motivational/expressive read alouds.


Snack Attack!

Bring a snack to class like cookies, crackers, or cereal, etc. Give each student a piece of a snack. Have each student describe the color, smell, appearance, texture, and taste. Students may write a descriptive paragraph to promote descriptive writing. A T-Chart or Venn Diagram can also be created to differentiate snacks too.


My Space

Create a reading area with pillows, a small chair, a rocker, a small sofa, a tent, bean bags, etc. This allows children to be comfortable and read with their peers making it fun, engaging, and motivational for all!


Face Book

Ask students to draw each family member’s face and/or their friends. Each face is to be drawn and colored on an individual paper.  When done, they will write a story using each member or friend as a character. Great for a multicultural activity!


Online Reading Games

Exposing children to online reading games broadens literacy further by making it exciting and interesting. By combining reading and fun, it will engage students by motivating him/her towards story time. Online reading games reinforces phonemic awareness, spelling, punctuation, blending, sentence structures, and much more!

With these ideas in mind, story time can be engaging, interesting, and motivating for all children of different learning styles. By promoting different literary activities, children can become happy, fluent readers. They can all be embedded within the school setting and at home allowing children to have access to a variety of literary elements.

This semester, students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Eliaber Jimenez

In reference to the issue of multicultural or multiethnic literature in the classroom, some teachers may think what is the actually the point of having those type of books in the classroom? A good answer would be that children should be aware that there are other cultures around the world and those cultures not only differ in customs, but also they speak a different language. Having multicultural literature in the classroom is the best way to educate children from the classroom and make them think that there are other things outside of the classroom walls.

Even for teachers, learning about other cultures seems very exciting. Traditions from other countries are interesting are exciting for children of all ages. One good example of this would be the American Indian cultures; they are interesting and teach us about the things they do, the respect, and the religion they follow, and also about the meaning of the figures they have, what they represent and when do they worship those figures. I just imagine our students learning and visualizing those ancient cultures just by reading a book. In order for students to acquire knowledge of another culture, they should be exposed to read books from all over the world. The teacher must have ample views and comprehension about different cultures so she could be able to explain if children have questions.

One very important aspect on children’s books are the illustrations, they are the ones that grab the attention especially for young children. When reading literature from a different culture using another language, even if they are not familiar with the language used in the story, just by looking at the pictures they will understand the meaning of the reading and will have a better understanding of the story theme. However sometimes some type of literature is not easy understood by young children, based on the fact that it is not easy for them to read between the lines or make inferences about the facts on the story, but for adults some situations and events are more familiar to them and illustrations in the story make it pretty much easy and exciting to read.

In my opinion I would recommend that each classroom shoud have multicultural literature to educate our children and to help them open their eyes to a new horizon.