Friday, February 17, 2012

NABE Demo of Blooming Writers

I had a great time at my very first NABE conference and it was a privilege to meet lots of dual-language and bilingual teachers.  Thanks so much to those of you that came to our demo of EL Saber's newest resource Blooming Writers/El escritor Floreciente.  That was a new experience for me to be broadcast via microphone throughout the exhibit hall but your warm, smiling faces eased my nerves a lot!

Below is a written version of my talk along with pictures of the charts that were shared.

Who has a green thumb?  If you were to pass by my house on a regular basis, you would know that neither my husband nor I have a green thumb but we really like to have a pretty yard with pretty plants.  We spend a lot of money every few months buying new plants and they do look beautiful for a week or so.  Yet it never fails!  A couple of weeks later, the plants start to droop and the flowers fade and we forget to water or generally care for the plants and eventually it is ugly once again and we plan another trip to the nursery.  Often, while at the nursery, we will call my dad for recommendations.  My dad has a green thumb and has always had a beautiful yard year round.  I used to think that having a “green thumb” meant that you were blessed with a secret “golden touch” that magically kept your plants alive and in bloom.  It has recently dawned on me that the reason that my dad’s yard always looks so beautiful is not because of secret powers but because he is a student of plants.  When he goes outside on Saturdays to “work in the yard”, he doesn’t set out to create a perfect end product and be done.  Instead, he uses what he knows about seasons, soil, and shade to make decisions.  At the same time, he always allows himself the freedom to try out some new things.  One time, after a visit to the arboretum, he returned home with a new vision for the yaupon holly tree on our deck.  Not all of his experiments were successful but most of them were.  Even the unsuccessful ones were learning experiences because he approached gardening as an always improving craft.
We as teachers can have the tendency to think of our writing bulletin boards like having a pretty front yard.  We want the writing outside our doors to look a certain way and we know that we must pay a lot of sweat and tears to get our students to churn out that perfect writing piece before Open House or the upcoming superintendent’s visit.  As writing teachers, our focus is on the end product rather than on the process of writing.  Like my dad has taught me about gardening, we need to study our writers and their writing.  We need to be willing to let our students try things out that won’t ultimately end up in a final draft.  We need to give them the opportunity to experiment with the writing styles of different authors. 
Blooming Writers is a resource that provides the teacher with the opportunity to study the craft of writing with her students.   Fifteen bilingual mentor texts anchor serve as the starting point for a total of 90 different writing lessons that focus on six different traits of good writing.
The mentor texts selected each have 6 lessons, one for each of the traits of writing (ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, and conventions), which are written in English and Spanish. The trait-focused lessons unveil the author’s craft and are organized using an effective teaching approach that has been classroom tested. This lesson design ACTIVATES students’ background knowledge prior to the mini lesson, allows time to NURTURE the learning process and promotes students to BLOOM by demonstrating the learned knowledge. Students are successful in emulating the author’s craft through the implementation of this approach.

I love this quote from Jeff Anderson!

The first book that I shared was It's Mine by Isabel Muñoz. 
Eric & Julieta: Es mio / It's Mine: (Bilingual) (Spanish and English Edition)
You can see the charts for three of the lessons below:
This was the first lesson that I set out to plan for this book.  Originally, I was planning to teach this book in Spanish.  When I created this T-chart in Spanish and began to pull out sentences from the book, I realized that many of them had an implied subject rather than an explicit one.  I think that would be a great lesson for second or third grade but maybe not for K-1.  I chose to teach this lesson in English instead.
I loved this reading/writing lesson.  The "solution" for this story is not necessarily a good solution, at least from the perspective of Eric's mom.  That could be fodder for some really good discussion!
Product Details

This chart below should say Convenciones instead of Ideas as the trait that was being taught. 

Margaret and Margarita / Margarita y Margaret
This lesson on Ideas said to create a Venn Diagram comparing the two characters.  Ever since I was trained in Thinking Maps, I have always found the double-bubble easier to create but the Venn Diagram works too.

Blooming Writers is not about having a beautiful piece of writing on your wall although that is a likely byproduct.  It is about developing beautiful and creative writers on a daily basis.  As you follow these lessons, your student will most likely create some beautiful pieces of writing but the most important thing is that you are sowing strong seeds of literacy that will continue to bloom long after your bulletin board is taken down!
We will be hosting our very first giveaway next week and will be offering one free copy of this resource hot off the press.  Stay tuned!


  1. I have to say I am just so excited about this. I am currently on the writing curriculum selection committee in our district, and while there are plenty of great things out there for our monolingual counterparts, we have struggled to find great resources in Spanish for our dual rooms. I would love to, and look forward to learning more!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  2. I invite you to read "Curioso Quique" its a great resource for Dual Language/Spanish Immersion classes. Hope you enjoy it.


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