About this episode
Welcome to POPCAST, Episode 16! This episode is part 2 of Jeff and Travis interviewing Caroline Sweet, coauthor of Patterns of Power en español: Inviting Bilingual Writers into the Conventions of Spanish, Grades 1–5. Caroline is a bilingual teacher and coach and has adapted lesson sets from the bestselling book Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, Grades 1–5 for use in the bilingual classroom.
Meet Jeff and Travis
For over thirty years, Jeff Anderson has inspired writers and teachers of grades K-8 with the power and joy of writing and grammar. He has written eight books for Stenhouse Publishers. He also writes middle-grade novels. Travis Leech is currently a middle school instructional coach in Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, TX. He has thirteen years of experience in education, including teaching middle school English Language Arts and as a gifted and talented specialist. Follow Jeff and Travis on Twitter.
Read the transcript
Jeff: Welcome to POPCast, the Patterns of Power podcast. Discussing grammar in the context of reading and writing connections.
Travis: I'm Travis Leech.
Jeff : And I'm Jeff Anderson, and we are joined again by the wonderful Caroline Sweet from Austin, Texas, who is here to talk about her... We like to call it the yellow book, the orange book, green book. Middle-school's the green book. One through five is the orange book, which Travis and Caroline wrongly think is red. It's orange.
Jeff : And, the yellow book that we'd like to talk about is en español. So it's a big deal. It's about inviting bilingual writers into the conventions of Spanish. It's actually Stenhouse Publishers’ first bilingual publication, and it's continuing to be successful. So we want to say, "yay," to Caroline and, "yay," to Stenhouse for figuring out that there is an audience out there for bilingual teaching materials that are useful and that aren't worksheets and other kinds of things. So what really do you think... I know you said your students find it very motivating. What about the process itself? Tell us a little bit about the process in your classroom and what that looks like.
Caroline: So on day one, when we're in the invitation to notice, I like to talk a lot about the author, their experience, where they come from. So students are already starting to see connections to their own identities or lived experiences or their language practices before we even jump in to what the sentence says. So that goes back to this idea of possibility, right? A young writer can see themselves as a writer, and that their experiences should make the contents of a book. And, if I have the book in hand, we'll go through it. I'll talk about how much I love the illustrations. I'll talk about how much I love the story. And then I'll say, "Now let's take a look at this sentence or sentences, the excerpt from the book, and what do you notice?" And I love the openness of that moment, where students are just sharing any idea that they see.
Caroline: And that thing happens over and over where they say capital letter and period and every time they say it, we say, "Yes, that is what writers do," and then we keep going and pulling in that focus phrase to really emphasize that convention and each focus phrase in Spanish starts with “You so” "I use," right? Not, "I can use." We want it to sound habitual, not optional. So that's how we do our focus phrase. Then the invitation to compare and contrast I just had a lot of fun writing.
Caroline: There's this moment, for example, in the lesson, on when to capitalize and when not, where the sentence says the compare and contrast, and it says, "Me llamo Ángel, pero no me comporto como un ángel”"My name is Ángel, but I don't behave like an angel." My son was in a fifth grade class where they were doing that lesson and the students in that class I had worked with for several years, so they knew very well that I had written that book and some of their pictures are in that book. My son, Silas, turns to his friend Angel and he says, "Hey, my mom wrote that about you." Which is slightly true.
Jeff : It was literature, not Caroline's.
Caroline: Well, that's the invitation to compare sentence that I wrote to go with it.
Jeff : Oh, so it was about Ángel. Okay, I see.
Caroline: It's real, making Ángel famous, you know? Also one of my favorite moments happened when I was working with a third grade class on the invitation to compare and contrast. So we were in day two and we had done a lot of noticing the day before. And we start day two with the two sentences side by side. And I say, "What do you see that they have in common? What do you notice?" And a child raises her hand and she says, "words." "Yeah, that's right. Authors use words to communicate their ideas. What else do you notice? What else do they have in common?" But I love this openness and this accepting nature that we step into this discussion where anything you notice is, is acceptable and we'll acknowledge that. And that just builds up our young writers to affirm what they're doing and the choices they make as writers, too. And so those are just a few of my favorite moments in Patterns of Power teaching.
Jeff : But particularly I love the way this is all happening with Spanish language. It's happening. They're seeing it. And then they're becoming the possibility to be a Spanish writer. To write in their language.
Caroline: To write in Spanish or to write an English or to write in both. And so, as we highlight these authors, then we're able to step into a space where we can see where a bilingual author actually uses both languages at the same time. So we have a few favorite authors that do that, and that just opens up our possibilities.
Jeff : That's powerful. That's powerful. That's the inspiration again, that's the investigation again, that's that whole set up that works. It's like a process because it comes in an order. And this order, whether it's in English or Spanish comes to teach you what you need to know about grammar and an unintimidating unwork she did way. And I think that it's a cheap... Bring that alive. And I got to tell you guys, cause you may not know this, but Caroline and I had a previous relationship. I don't like the way that sounds. It already sounds wrong, but the relationship was here, right? Yeah. You make it right, Caroline. You always had to.
Caroline: Yeah. Well we did meet in 1991. I believe you were 25 and I was nine. And right now our first encounter, it was in the classroom at the end of the hallway at Brentwood Elementary in Austin, Texas, as you are my fourth grade teacher and I was your fourth grade student
Jeff : Very memorable fourth grade student.
Travis: Can we get maybe some highlights here of this fourth grade experience? I'm intrigued, right?
Caroline: Yes. There are many things I remember, for sure. I remember the one time I had to change my color card to blue from green, but I was just devastated as I was a person who very often stayed on green the whole day. I remember that Mr. Anderson was elated to receive a white board. Do you remember that?
Jeff : Oh yeah. Because I was allergic to chalk. I'm allergic to chalk.
Travis: What a profession to be allergic to chalk.
Caroline: Yeah. And especially in 1991, you know? Yeah. The heyday of chalk. Yes, I think. I remember that we would do a place value rap, too, like we were Michael Jackson. I don't think that would go over as well today.
Jeff : And yeah, this was '92. I wasn't using Michael Jackson as he was, he was doing his little, this little moonwalk to kind of count back on decimals.
Travis: That was very timely use of Michael Jackson.
Caroline: Ones, tens, hundredths.
Jeff : It's a different, it was a different time.
Caroline: Comma, baby. It was a different time.
Jeff : Oh, comma, baby. Ow!
Caroline: And then we had a laser disc player. Do you remember watching the Fox get eaten by maggots over and over again?
Jeff : I did. I did. It was a reward. It was a reward. Okay. We got to, we got to get back to this contrast of analysis. So tell us about the Invitation to Edit and what you do there, Caroline.
Caroline: Well, what I love about the invitation...
Travis: Reign it back.
Caroline: In Invitation to Edit, this moment where we say, "what did we learn from this author?" We keep that rock star status. We keep their, the way that we look to these authors is as really being powerful. And we just let that moment kind of sink in of, "what did we learn from this bilingual author?" And so just to sum it up, I love that kids are able to share. And for the most part though, we refer back to the focus phrase, but they'll pull on the other things that they said in day one as well. And so even though I had an idea in mind of what should be learned, there might be multiple things that have been learned over this space and time.
Caroline: And I think that stepping into the second part of the invitation to notice of what has changed and what is the effect of the change, lets us sit for a while with really the beauty of language, because we're not necessarily presenting sentences that are wrong. Maybe we're changing the coordinating conjunction and we're examining the small kind of nuance of language and what changes slightly in the meaning. So the example of from Agua, Aguita, the sentence that we use over the series of the lessons is Me llamo Agua, pero todos me dicen Aguita
Caroline: Wait. I think I said that wrong. It is...
Jeff : It's okay. You're doing it from memory.
Caroline: That's right. But it is here in my hand. “Mi nombre es Agua, pero todos me conocen por Aguita” and we have this, "my name is water, but everyone calls me little water." When we change "but" to "and," it kind of gives the message that both parts of that sentence are as important. But when you keep reading this book, the second sentence is, “A mi me gusta que me llaman Aguita”, "I like to be called little water." So we want that nuance of language at the beginning. We want it to feel more important to call him by his nickname because the next part of it is that's the way he likes to be called. So I love this moment in Invitation to Edit of, just look really closely. Listen, did something change when you heard it with your ears? Did something change when I read it with my voice, does something change when I read it with my eyes? Does it make me pause, does it make me skip over something? So I love that opportunity to just step into language in a really kind of deep, meaningful way. Not this, “grab your red pen, fix it, turn it in before you leave."
Travis: What I love about that invitation as well is students come into that space for discussion with a ton of confidence, right? They've already done so much learning there that they can really then talk about meaning in more depth when we switch it up and add those little nuanced changes that authors may make.
Jeff : So Caroline, what are you working on next?
Caroline: Well, Mr. Anderson, why don't you go ahead and give me my homework assignment and I will step up and do it, turn it in on time, but I hope we'll be able to expand what we offer in Patterns of Power in Spanish to be used at the elementary level, maybe to be used beyond that. I hope we'll be able to step into a space where we can really use Patterns of Power to help our students who are learning English, maybe entering school at a more advanced age, learning English in middle school or high school. And I think that we just have a lot of possibilities because the process that you've developed allows students can have multiple access points to jump in where they can. To try it on in whatever capacity they can and then to be celebrated for their risk-taking.
Jeff : And then after you finished that, are you... I hear you're going to write a book on bilingual writer's workshop. Is that true? Are you going to try that? Because I think there's some people who'd really liked that.
Caroline: I hope so. That is definitely on my to-do list. And I'm just working with a really fabulous team of teachers who are doing really beautiful things in their bilingual writer's workshop. And I'd love to be able to highlight that.
Travis: Wow, that would be powerful. I'd read it.
Jeff : How does this... Yeah, I'd read it. How does this... How does this work with your writer's workshop, the Patterns of Power? Do you feel like it fits? And if it does, why does it fit and what helps it go together?
Caroline: Well, I think the 10 minutes of the day that we reserved for Patterns of Power really feed what we do in writer's workshop later. And for the most part, I don't think the 10 minutes bump up to the writer's workshop for the teachers in my school. They might exist and kind of different spaces in the day. But I had one teacher tell me that her mini lessons that are focused on editing in writer's workshop are actually kind of short and sweet. And they're able to refer back to their anchors of support that they've created through Patterns of Power. And because of that, she feels like she's able to focus her many lessons in writer's workshop more on process and craft and revision rather than spending a few days on editing because the class has already come to some agreements on what are the things that they do habitually, not optionally, over time.
Jeff : Beautiful. Beautiful. Do you have any more questions for Caroline, Travis?
Travis: I really appreciate just hearing everything that you have to share with us today and I think the audience will as well. Are there any lasting words of wisdom that you'd like to bestow upon us?
Caroline: Well, in our fourth grade classroom in 1991 and 1992, we used to have this mantra that each day is a gift. And I think Mr. Anderson and I are certainly at a point in our lives where we recognize that each day is a gift and that we can either choose to use it or throw it away. And so I am so grateful to be able to use my days teaching, spending time with kids, working with really fabulous educators, such as you guys, and just really hoping to make a difference in the world.
Jeff : And let me say that you are making a difference in the world. You've made a difference in my world. You've made a difference in many, many teachers classrooms by getting this book and us saying to the bilingual people here at Stenhouse publishers, that there is an audience and they are out there and Caroline might be one of the most articulate people in this arena right now. So I think you're going to hear a lot of good, big things from her. Just like going to hear from Travis as I start stepping back as I age out, got my walker right here. Don't worry. The walker's for a knee.
Travis: I don't know. You're still pretty fresh to me.
Caroline: You better get that knee in shape so we can do that place value moonwalk.
Jeff : Absolutely. Oh my gosh. I think I hear the theme song coming up again. Do you hear it, Travis?
Travis: I do I do. I think that means that we're out of time, Caroline. Thank you so much for your brilliance today. It was such a pleasure.
Jeff : We're going to have you on again. I can tell you that because I've got some other things I want to ask you.
Caroline: I've got a lot to say.
Jeff : I know you do. Thank you. Stenhouse S T E N H O U S E .com to check out...
Travis: For sponsoring us.
Jeff : ...all their goodness. And we hope to talk to you again soon. Take care.