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POPCast, Episode 17: Reader Q&A with Caroline Sweet

Posted by admin on Sep 10, 2021 9:00:00 AM


About this episode

Welcome to POPCAST, Episode 17! In this episode, Jeff Anderson and Travis Leech welcome Caroline Sweet, coauthor of Patterns of Power en español: Inviting Bilingual Writers into the Conventions of Spanish, to answer questions from readers. 



Meet Jeff and Travis

Jeff and TravisFor 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.

Travis: Discussing grammar in the context of the reading, writing connection.

Jeff: I'm Jeff Anderson.

Travis: And I'm Travis Leech.

Jeff: And we're your host today as we have a special question and answer episode with Caroline Sweet, author of Patterns of Power en español, inviting bilingual writers into the conventions of Spanish.

Jeff: We are so lucky to have her expertise here today. So we're going to just throw a bunch of questions from readers from her. First one we have is from Otto, from Acuac Medando, Wisconsin. His question is: how do you plan for both Spanish and English?

Caroline: Jeff, that's a great question. I think this-

Jeff: It's Otto's question.

Travis: I think it's ... I'm reading this. It's from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. You're close, but just to give some love. Oconomowoc, shout out.

Caroline: They have a big bilingual teacher community there?

Travis: I think it's very small, but they're very exciting.

Jeff: It's intimate. It's intimate.

Caroline: Well, I think, one of the things about planning in English and Spanish really depends on your program model and what kind of bilingual classroom you're working in. And so, it might be that you teach as much in English as you do in Spanish in language arts. It might be heavier on one side or the other. But what I always suggest to teachers when they're kind of creating their year-long plan is to start with Spanish. Make sure Spanish is a priority, and then plan to build a concept over time.

Caroline: I think the other thing that's really important is that it is not necessary to teach certain conventions in one language and then teach it again in another language. For example, the use of a period and punctuation, really similar, works pretty much the same, and so you don't have to teach that in English and then turn around and teach that in Spanish. But you do need to teach that exclamation points and question marks do function a little differently in Spanish. And so you want to look for the parts of English or Spanish that you need to teach explicitly.

Caroline: So in Spanish, I need to teach the use of the accent, maybe in a past tense verbs, for example, or in nouns. That's not something that we use in English. Or in English, I might need to spend time developing understanding of contractions. In Spanish, we just have two contractions, though. In English, there are many, perhaps infinite numbers of contractions. And that is something that we need to spend time with, especially for our language learners who are really working to develop in both English and Spanish.

Caroline: So as you're planning, I would say prioritize Spanish. There's also this really handy chart at the end of the yellow book. That's a correlation chart. Kind of shows you what Spanish lesson correlates to what English lesson in the orange book. So very often teachers are planning with both books out together, and I think very often teachers are planning on a team where some teachers teach in English and Spanish and some teachers teach in just English. So that chart's always really helpful to look back at.

Travis: Oh yeah, [crosstalk].

Jeff: It's on page ... It starts on page 265 and 266 of Caroline's yellow book, Patterns of Power en español. So it's called Spanish Lesson Correlation Chart to English Lessons in Patterns of Power. So that's appendix B, just so you know.

Jeff: You made me think of another question though, that's not been asked by an audience member as clearly all the other questions are from audience members. But this is a question that I want to ask, not an audience member. I was wondering about, do you use the yellow book for ELL or do you use the orange book for ELL? Or the green book for ELL, English language learners?

Caroline: That's right. So I think when you're working with students who are really working to develop English, and that can be any student, right? It doesn't necessarily mean that the students speaks a language other than English at home. I think we're always looking for where are the access points where a student can jump in? So if we're using a lesson like, "Hippos are huge," that maybe is a really accessible point for a student who's really working on learning English, building their confidence in English, developing different ideas about English over time. That's a really easy point to jump in, right? So we want to consider the level of our students and where can we provide those multiple access points. So even if I have a sentence that's more intricate, I'm looking for those moments where anyone can jump in even if that is a language that is maybe more complicated or difficult, or in which they lack confidence. So I'm looking for those multiple entry points whether I'm using the green, any of the books.

Jeff: So you could either books? Either of the books?

Caroline: Yeah.

Jeff: I get you. So Travis? Do you want to ask?

Travis: This one is from Rob, from Phoenix, Arizona. He is just curious about recommendations for Spanish language authors. I think to you as a curator in that space, just what it, maybe, what are some to connect to today.

Caroline: Oh, yeah. I mean, we have some real rock stars on the scene. I love books by Duncan Tonatiuh who uses a style of art that is just so distinct and so compelling. He studied a mixed tech codex and uses the art style in a contemporary context. He's also one of the authors we look to who is able to use English and Spanish together, and that's something that is just a really great space for experimentation in our bilingual classroom community of writers to step into a space where we can use both languages at the same time. Jorge Argueta is one of our favorites. Yuyi Morales, Amada Irma Perez, Rene Colato Lainez, those are a few that we really look to. And I just love books too, by Isabel Quintero and Monica Brown, just looking over at my bookshelf here as during virtual teaching, how to move my classroom library into my bedroom.

Caroline: But yeah, there's some that we definitely look to. But here's the thing that I would want to say about that, is we also need to look for who's new on the scene because diversity in publishing has been an issue for many years. While it gets better, it's not good enough. So we need to find those new voices and make sure we are amplifying, highlighting, applauding, celebrating the new voices that come onto the scene in Latino children's literature.

Travis: Yeah, it's a great point.

Jeff: Could you spell that first author you spoke about? His last name?

Caroline: Duncan Tonatiuh? T-O-N-A-T-I-U-H. Duncan Tonatiuh.

Jeff: I think some people are going to be really interested in that. Wow. Thank you, Caroline, for all that. Hey, if people wanted to follow you on Twitter, what's your Twitter address?

Caroline: It's @carolinesweet82. You can find me on Twitter and then they'll find you guys on Twitter as well. One of the other things I wanted to mention about books is I think that one of the challenges that every bilingual teacher will face is access to materials. I mean, that's the reason the Spanish book exists because we need access to materials and that's what bilingual teachers are really looking for all the time.

Caroline: And so it is very likely that when you are teaching from a yellow book, you don't have the text in hand. You don't have it in your classroom library, you don't have it in your school library, and it might not exist in your district's library inter-library loan system. What I would say to that is just, don't let that hold you back. Just tell your students, "I was reading this book by this author that we love, that we trust, and I found this sentence that I thought we could learn from it so great." Then, go with it. Maybe eventually you'll get the book. Maybe you can find a digital copy. But please don't let not having the book in hand hold you back. But on the other hand, the books that are listed in the yellow book are just fabulous. I love them. They're great. So if there's funding available, buy them.

Jeff: And you have even groupings on the website on the Patterns of Power en español page, where they can get some of those books if they're interested in more of a collection.

Caroline: That's correct.

Jeff: That's wonderful.

Travis: Jeff, do you have any others that you want to ask today?

Jeff: Well, I think that access books was what Ingrid from Indianapolis, Indiana was going to write about, ask about, accessing books. So I'm just thinking, is there one thing about the Patterns of Power that you think that people should know about how it approaches acquisition of language? Is there anything you think you would like to kind of spout off about why it works and why you got excited? Because you didn't have to get excited about it to write a book in six months to do it. She did this very quickly to make it happen.

Travis: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: So what was it that drew you to it?

Caroline: So I think that teaching in Spanish, learning in Spanish, and being able to step into a school space and a classroom that values the language of your family's home, is a really essential equity issue. And if students are stepping into spaces where Spanish is not valued, is not celebrated, then their school experience could be very negative. So when we have parity of resources, when we are able to pick up the orange book and teach grammar in a really deep, meaningful, invitational way, and we're able to turn around and pick up the yellow book and do the same, even with this added level of celebrating bilingual authors, that really changes the experience for students for whom Spanish is the language of the home. It elevates the importance of Spanish. It lets students know that their linguistic repertoire is valued and both languages are acceptable, are used, and become a really kind of like our paintbrushes in our writing workshop classroom.

Caroline: So that's just the piece that I would love for people to think on that. That this is not about just providing something in Spanish that exists in English, but this is about creating a really equitable classroom space in where students are finding themselves reflected in literature and then seeing, of course, that possibility of living a writerly life.

Jeff: Well, I was wondering what it is, as allies of bilingual education or allies of kids being honored at school and feeling included and part of the process. I know one thing I can do as a writer, one of the things I did was push them to write, to do a bilingual version. At first they didn't even want to because they were afraid that it wouldn't sell. They were going to put something free online. I'm like, "No, honor it. Charge a price for it. It's worth money and people will buy Spanish products like that." But what's something ... So that was one little thing I could do to push it forward and to push forward for giving more products in the Patterns of Power en español family. But what's something else that people like Travis and I can do to make sure that it is equitable. Is there something we should be doing to nudging, even though we're not in the bilingual department, that are usually separated off?

Caroline: Yeah, I think-

Jeff: Is there anything you can do?

Caroline: Well, you might not be able to take a Patterns of Power en español lesson and take it all the way through. You can let those literature choices come into your classroom, into your classroom library, into the hands of kids, let them take it home. That's important that books are able to travel from home to school. I think too, like letting families establish themselves as experts in Spanish is really essential as well. So even though you might not be in a situation where you are teaching in Spanish, if we have this very open writer's space, then all language can come in and all language can be powerful and be part of how we express ourselves in our writing classroom. It also lets students sort of become experts at times. Lead each other. Then, if you can always set yourself up as a learner, as somebody learning, writing moves as well. I think that just builds that community space.

Jeff: Beautiful. That was just beautiful. That's that's what I mean by this voice you've got to hear. So check out Caroline Sweet's Patterns of Power en español, inviting bilingual writers into the convention of Spanish grades one through five. Caroline Sweet, again, @carolinesweet82. We know that's probably the year she was born. That's what we're figuring out. I was still in high school. Well, somebody's at my door, so I probably have to go. So maybe we should put up the music tracks and we can get out of this place.

Travis: Okay, here it is. Oh, yeah. Caroline, thank you so much for your-

Caroline: Thanks for having me.

Jeff: Dance party.

Travis: ... wisdom and wit. Here we go. You can't see it, but we're dancing in a Zoom.

Jeff: Thanks to Stenhouse Publishing for putting out one their first bilingual products and thank them for supporting and continuing to look at putting out more because we appreciate that. So thank you, Stenhouse Publishers.

Travis: That's

Jeff: Travis has to be the one to spell it because I always leave off the E. All right, see you about next time, guys. Keep listening to Patterns of Power podcast, review and invite other people to try it out, and we'll be with you. Take it easy. Thanks, Travis. Thanks, Caroline.

Travis: Bye.

Jeff: That was a scream I heard.