Being a bilingual teacher is not only knowing well at least two-languages or have deep understanding of language acquisition and bilingualism theories or just know well a content-area like reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Being a effective bilingual teacher is to use the acquired knowledge in the three mentioned areas, apply them to support the learning of bilingual students.
Well, for this reason, summer is also time to engage in new learning in reading and writing, the subjects I teach. This past week, I attended the Summer Literacy Institute at Lesley University in Boston, MA. The topic was Genre Study: Teaching with Fiction and Nonfiction Books in a Reader’s Workshop, Grades K-8. This hands-on literacy professional development event was based on Fountas and Pinnell’s new book “Genre Study: Teaching with Fiction and Nonfiction Books”. The essence of all sessions was that “Through experience with texts, readers recognize common elements, as well as ways that texts in the same genre can vary. They use their knowledge of the predictable elements as a road map to anticipate the structures and elements of the text they are reading” (2012, p. 11).
Throughout the 4-day institute, all participants delved in genre study reflecting about key features in a certain genre that makes one genre easier or more challenging to students, “what can we do as teachers support student’s understanding when immersing our students in genre study?”, “what are good examples of mentor text to portray a certain genre?”, “how do we plug in genre study in the reading workshop model?”, “how do we plan and teach genre study?”, and many other things.
Overall, it was a great experience reflecting about our own teaching and learning new things to make students better readers. The classroom conversations really opened my mind to the education world because there were educators from everywhere such as international schools in the Middle East, public schools in other parts of the States, and small private schools. It really offered a different dynamic for each session where everyone was able to share about their own little world, even me, the bilingual world. In the first day, all the textbooks needed were handed-in so we could take home and browse them before the session. Which teacher doesn’t like to get brand new books? We also learned how to use them in the classroom especially for planning mini-lessons, conferring and guided-reading. The last but not least, Dr. Fountas was the keynote speaker in the first and last day. Listening to her lectures is music to every educators’ ears since you can see through her words that she cares and knows what is best for kids. Well, if you have a chance, look at her new book as well as make plans to attend one of the professional developments offered at Lesley University throughout the year. By the way, if you have struggling readers, check out the LLI – Leveled Literacy Intervention material and trainings.