By Justin Hofstetter, Teacher and Librarian, Alta Vista Charter Middle School
Sometimes it seems like I only ever consider the “why” of my teaching methods when I am debriefing after an observation (or interviewing for a position somewhere else). I default to “teacher-ese” and say all the right things about why the lesson worked or why I had the students working in a particular manner or configuration.
In reality, I don’t plan my lessons with all those things in mind. I plan my lessons and my strategies based on what works intuitively; somehow my students end up making gains. Until I’m forced to put language to the educational philosophies that underlie those practices, I just know that I do them because they keep my students engaged.
Last summer, I presented one such strategy at the Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy (LILL): Jaguar Circles, a nonfiction group reading and discussion protocol that has always kept my students engaged. I could speak at length about how my kids worked and what serious gains in testable nonfiction reading skills resulted. When pressed, however, I never had any idea why this worked. It was a fantastic tool, like my computer or my cell phone, that I could use well and understand how to use on an intuitive level, but could never begin to explain why it worked.
Then LILL provided me with two great opportunities.
By Angelica Lara, Teacher, East Austin College Prep
I cannot believe it has almost been a year since I applied to present at the 2015 Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy (LILL), generously supported by State Farm. I am so grateful for the opportunity to present to other teachers and administrators on the topic of digital literacy. I have to admit this is the first educational institute I had ever applied to and very appreciative to have been selected along with another teacher. I believe this experience provided me the opportunity to network with other educators and facilitate excellent discussions on classroom resources, techniques, and current research.
Another aspect I certainly appreciated was the opportunity to work with Dr. James Gee, an expert on computer science and video gaming. It was inspiring to hear his research and words of wisdom about digital literacy in today’s age. To this day I still remind not only myself but my students of the importance of the simplicity of paper and pencils, which are also examples of technology, something that Dr. Gee made sure to state during his keynote speech. In this digital age, we get caught up with the latest and greatest technology, but I believe we sometimes forget where it all started. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, technology is “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” Technology can come in many forms.
In Phoenix last week, our education programs team hosted two institutes dedicated to improving education outcomes for youth. The Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy (LILL) and Padres Comprometidos both welcomed participants from across the country for three days of best practices, information sharing, and networking.
During LILL, participants received hands-on training and leadership development to help them improve literacy instruction through the inclusion of technology at their schools.
Padres Comprometidos, our parent engagement program, builds the capacity of Latino parents of students from pre-school through high school. This happens as the parents learn their role in preparing their children for academic success in school and ultimately for college and careers.
Participants at this year’s institutes also made use of social media to document their experiences. Below are some of the social media highlights of the two events. Be sure to visit nclr.org for more information on each of these terrific programs.
Thanks to all the LILL and Padres Comprometidos participants for making this year’s events such a great success!