Episode Transcript
Ixchell Reyes
The DIESOL podcast

Brent Warner
Digital Integration in English as a Second or Other Language

Ixchell Reyes
Episode 52: interview with Dr. Katie Toppel

Brent Warner
Welcome to DIESOL. This is Episode 52 We are your hosts I am Brent Warner

Ixchell Reyes
and I’m Ixchell Reyes. Hey Brent

Brent Warner
Hey how’s it going?

Ixchell Reyes
It’s going. I think by the time you hear this episode I’ll be overseas recovering from jetlag

Brent Warner
yes I hope that’s going okay for you Are you allowed to say where you are?

Ixchell Reyes
Not until I’m physically there

Brent Warner
Oh ok, so this is a little bit of a pre recorded episode so many secrets around Ixchell. That’s fine but we’ll worry about that a little bit later. So maybe that means in the November episodes people will be able to hear where all right so a lot going on I think we should just jump right into it. And because we’re excited and we’ve got a lot to talk about with Katie Toppel How are you?

Katie Toppel
I’m good thank you so much for having me on today.

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah! we were lucky we were we’re getting are getting you I know that you’re super busy. It’s the I think when we’re recording this this is you said it’s the second week of instruction right? Yeah.

Brent Warner
Yeah, so before we go too far, let’s properly introduce Katie for for anyone who somehow is not aware of you and your work. Ixchell, if you’ve got – you’re you’re better at doing bios than I am.

Ixchell Reyes
Dr. Katie Toppel is a language specialists are being multilingual learners in Oregon. She is a co founder and leader of ml l chat book club on Twitter and co author of the book DIY PD, a guide to self directed learning for educators of multilingual learners, along with Carol Salva and Tan Huynh. And we’ve had Carol on the show so we’re super excited. We see a lot of sharings from you on Twitter, of course. And I’m we’re gonna have to get the trifecta: Tan Huynh.

Brent Warner
Carol was our first guest on the show, yeah. So yeah. So we’ll have to we’ll have to round that out in the in the near future, hopefully. Tan, If you’re listening, we would love to have you come on and talk.

Ixchell Reyes
I know, we’ve quoted him on the show quite a bit as well.

Brent Warner
Katie, how are you doing?

Unknown Speaker
I am very well, a little tired from starting school. It’s been a very, very busy two weeks, but it’s exciting to be back in action and see kids and be with kids, because that’s why we do what we do. Yeah.

Brent Warner
And one of the things that’s great about having you on the show is you’re the first person I think who works with truly, littles right like the the littlest of the little kids, getting everything on, we’ve had a few guests who have talked with, you know, elementary school and different levels, you know, three, four, or five and things like that. But you’re right down there at the beginning with kindergarten, right?

Katie Toppel
Yeah.

Brent Warner
And so we wanted to hear before we get too into everything we just want to hear like how those first couple of weeks are going for you. Because I know that you have transitioned back into physical like you’re you’re you’re in person together with your kids. And so how’s that going? What are you feeling like? What are you what are you hearing from your other teachers? Yeah, just what’s that life like right now.

Unknown Speaker
It’s very busy. In the spring, our school was at half capacity. So we had cohort, a morning cohort and an afternoon cohort. Class sizes were about 10 to 12 kids. Now we have everybody back. So the school is at full capacity. And we are trying to have kids maintain distancing and wear masks. And it’s, it’s a lot, we have lunch outside. And especially for our brand new kindergarten students who have never been in school before. That’s there’s just a lot of procedures and routines that kids have to learn. And we also have some students who have not been physically in the school since March of 2020. So that’s also just a lot of time off from being in the building and all of those things that we need to teach like bathroom procedures and limited numbers of kids in the bathroom and you know, being distance at lunch and all the little things like you have to put your mask on before you can walk towards the trash can to throw out your extra things at lunch. There’s just, there’s a lot it’s very busy. It’s kind of an all hands on deck scenario. classroom teachers have been teaching since kids set foot in the building, but some of the specialists have been helping a lot with duty because our services don’t start quite yet so I don’t start actually teaching until tomorrow. Oh, I’ve been testing. I’ve been testing incoming kindergarten students and Just supporting helping kids get to classrooms, making sure everybody knows where to go helping with lunch duty, helping with dismissal duty, things like that to, to try to make sure that we can just keep kids safe and keep things going.

Brent Warner
That is a ton of work. Even before you start teaching, and then having the daily classes, that’s going to keep you plenty busy. So, but I’m sure you’re also looking forward to working with the kids. And so a lot of what we’re, you know, we talk about technology and those types of things and how you’re how you’re dealing with kids. is technology, a part of this process now when you’re like onboarding kids, and bringing them into school and working with them on a daily basis? How are you? Or are you just kind of like saying, We’ve looked at enough screens, where we just want to kind of just talk and, and work with each other? How has that worked out for you?

Unknown Speaker
Well, something that’s really important to remember is that we don’t know if and when we will have to pivot to at home instruction. We already do have children in schools nationwide who are quarantining. And so when that happens, they still need to learn, they still need instruction. And so technology remains a really integral piece of equipment that students need at my school, we have one on one iPads. And so even though, we really want kids writing paper, and pencil, and we really want kids holding actual books, there are still some limitations to what can be shared and things like that. And we need to make sure that students understand what they will need to do in the event that they have to stay home. So we use Canvas as our learning platform, and students need to understand how to access things that their teachers put on there in the event that they are learning from home temporarily, or if we sweat, who knows, it feels like this year is going to be as much of a roller coaster as last year. And we simply don’t know if we will remain in the building the whole year. I don’t I don’t know. So technology. Yeah, I’ve been I’ve been using the kindergarten students have been taking a screener test to see if they qualify as English language learners for language development services. And there’s been a lot of assessment to see where kids are, because last year and the spring of 2020 was a doozy. So we are evaluating where our kids because we need to know how we can meet them where they are, we have kids that are not necessarily, you know, quote, unquote, at grade level. And so we’re a lot of teachers are doing that work right now to investigate. And that does involve some, you know, diagnostic testing, using iPads and various programs to see where kids are, so we know how we can support them.

Ixchell Reyes
So Katie, I hear you talking about something that I constantly think about, I’m right now face to face, but when we switch to face to face, half of us had to go immediately back to digital instruction, and back and forth. So until right now, it’s kind of a mix. But how with language learners? How, what kind of allow, I don’t want to call them allowances, but what kind of grace are you as teachers giving the students who aren’t at the level that they’re supposed to be for, you know, in Latin language? I don’t think that, like you said last year, or the last year and a half, you could learn as much as fast pace as you normally would. So what, when we are assessing students now what do we look for? And not immediately like say, oh, you’re you’re failing? Or you’re not? where you’re supposed to be like, What? What is that for? Like for you right now.

Unknown Speaker
So I think, you know, there is a lot of worry from teachers, because, you know, we are used to getting kids incoming with a certain set of skills and moving forward. And so it’s it is very challenging and very uncomfortable to be in a place of really not knowing what to do. And I think that that is a sentiment shared by a lot of educators right now is I don’t feel confident in knowing what to do. And so I think it’s really just, my district has a couple of mottos for this year. And one of them is this comes from our superintendent, think big, but act small, and it’s small steps forward because there are a lot of new things. And it’s I know, unprecedented times is overused, but it really is something that I’ve been in education for 16 years. It’s nothing I’ve ever seen, and it’s new and so as competent as you typically feel the beginning of the year is always hard, but this is harder. And it may be the hardest that some of us in our careers. Because we don’t have a clear path of moving forward, because we simply, we’re still trying to figure out really where kids are, and what we can do. And unfortunately, it really does come with a lot of kind of deficit oriented ideas, you know, and that it’s, it really does require I try very hard to take a step back and say, you know, what is in my control? And what can I help and the one thing that I really try to focus on is, I can make kids feel like, I’m super excited that they’re at school. I can make kids or support cannot make them support kids and understanding how smart they are, and how wonderful it is that they are bilingual, or multilingual. And that that’s an asset that they bring, that’s really exciting, because that makes their brain actually bigger, smarter, maybe. I just tried to pump them up. Because, you know, I heard a teacher say the other day, a student said, Well, I can’t read. And that makes me sad. And it just makes me want to sit down as a student I’ll work with and say, so what are we going to do about this league, let’s set some goals. here’s, here’s, here’s what we can do. Tell me what’s hard. And I’m going to figure out how to help you. That’s my job, I’m here to help you and give them that that assurance that we’re going to grow. And at this point, we can’t do anything about where students are starting it is what it is. I mean, there are so many factors last year that affected kids ability to engage so many. And we have to kind of set that aside and just look at what we have and move forward. And it can be small steps. And we may not make three years worth of growth, we may not make a full year’s worth of growth. But to me, what really matters the most is that the students that we work with, just know that they’re so loved and know that we believe in them. I think those are really important things. That’s where we have to start.

Ixchell Reyes
And Katie, you mentioned that in it, you know, makes me think of fostering resiliency in children, and just in people in general. But I was listening to an episode, where you talked about this was an episode in Carol salvus. podcast, we’ll have to link the episode in the show in the show notes. But you talked about starting off with a routine. When you went back I think you said it was face to face routine of or of asking kids, I think it was mentioning something that they were that they liked or that that was positive. And you and there was a story there where you said the kids would say, I am loved my teacher.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, we started to do affirmations last year, I took a year long PLC with Loretta Hammond. It was a virtual virtual program. And it was culturally responsive education by design. And fantastic, highly recommend. And one of the things she talked about was the power of ritual. And that kids really thrive when they know what to expect. I imagine going into some of my kinders going into a school where they’re not understanding the language coming at them constantly. And the adults all have their faces covered. And I imagine feeling I understand completely why some of them are crying, it breaks my heart, but it’s it’s very overwhelming. So knowing what to expect kind of as to that sense of comfort and Zurita talks about just having a ritual. So I started in my, my groups last year, doing affirmations and it was a simple set of statements that I would read and each student would choose one and say it out loud. And it was things like I am bilingual or multilingual, I loved my teachers care about me. I’m a I’m a good friend, my voice matters. I’m an important part of this group. And the kids seem to really like it. And it felt powerful to me, especially when we dug a little bit into what that means to be bilingual. And they started to say I’m bilingual. I speak English and zookeys or I’m bilingual. I know English and Spanish. And that was powerful. I thought.

Brent Warner
I love Absolutely, yeah, that’s great because that that approach to I mean, kind of what you’re bringing back from before is you’re saying like, so many people are out there complaining about like, loss, learning loss, and you know, all these other things. It’s like, Can we just start with supporting the people who need who need this level of support, we can worry about some of those things later. People are resilient, children are resilient, they can figure things out and get those opportunities but I really appreciate that that first approach is just like loving and supporting the students and making sure that they are getting what they need. At a core level before you have to worry about all the whatever might be state requests, or those types of things that kind of overwhelmed sometimes,

Ixchell Reyes
yeah, and

Unknown Speaker
I think I mean, one of the things I personally i love about being a language specialists compared to being a classroom teacher is classroom teachers have a lot of things on their plate. And they’re, they’re getting the message, hopefully, you know, we need to, we need to be meeting standards, we need to be meeting grade level expectations, there’s a lot of pressure. And I feel as a specialist, I had this lucky role where, when I come into co teach, I can have these little moments with kids, and I’m not, in certain moments, I mean, these first two weeks coming, or that we just had. And when I come in, I’m not leading the class, I’m kind of observing and checking things out and getting the feel of how things are going. And so I can kind of, you know, come as close as I get up to a student and have a little conversation with them and kind of try to connect with them. Because I’m not managing the whole class in that moment. And classroom teachers just I mean, the, the teachers I work with are so phenomenal, they have so much on their plates, and I can absolutely relate to why they feel that that pressure about learning loss, and they feel that because that’s the reality of kind of the pressure that is on them. And that’s why I’m so passionate about co teaching and collaborating, because I try to frame my role as I’m here to support you. And if you have 15 things on your plate, what can I take? What can I support with? How can I make your your plate smaller? Let’s share, what can I do? And I think that that’s so key right now, because teachers want to be superheroes, we want to be able to do everything. And can’t, we absolutely can’t. So we need to work together. And we need to divide and conquer and say you do this, I’ll do this, and let’s share, because it’s a matter of kind of keeping keeping our own mental health and sanity this year, especially this year, to be able to just really accomplish what we need to do.

Brent Warner
Yeah. Can you talk a little bit, Katie about your co teaching setup? Because I think that’s, you know, not every teacher gets that, you know, like, is able to be in a situation like that, right? Some some people are coming from. I am the only teacher of all of the kids in this whole, you know, school and some for some of our teachers who are overseas and some setups like that, too. What does that coteaching setup? How is that set up? And then what do you do on a day to day basis when you go in as a co teacher.

Unknown Speaker
So I initially started with one grade level, because with CO teaching, it’s really important to have have buy in an interest from the classroom teachers, it’s not something that works if it’s forced upon anyone. So we started with one team. And the idea was to just eventually add a grade level each year. That didn’t work out as we had initially planned. But we’re think on your five and I’m now adding third grade. So I’m doing kindergarten, I’m doing first grade, I’m doing third grade. And it we’re still in the stages, at least with third grade to figuring out what it’s going to look like because we’ve never done it before. But it’s really I tried to go in and see what would benefit students where language is important in their day. Of course, it’s important across the whole day, but what would be kind of a reasonable time to come in and share in that content and language instruction. And we just really, we literally build the plane while we’re on it. There. There are systems that we’ve learned we’ve learned a ton from Andrea onyx Felder, Maria dub, and all of their amazing books. This year, we had a district training on co teaching. So we understand that there’s co planning, there’s co teaching, there’s co reflecting and there’s co assessing, there’s a whole system. And it’s very much trial and error, what works. And I try to normalize with teams, please don’t feel like you’ll hurt my feelings. If you didn’t like the way something went, you know, we will adapt, we will figure this out, we set a schedule that we think will work. And we’re going to try it this week. And we’re going to then reflect on how it worked for the students. And if the students on my caseload got sufficient support or if we need to kind of dial it in a little bit more to be less everybody and more small group instruction. So we’re gonna see, typically, typically when I come in, we are implementing lessons where the intention is to explicitly focus on language and to swirl. And that acronym means that we are speaking, writing, interactive, interacting, reading and listening. So it’s integrating all of the language domains in a single lesson to make sure that students are when they’re learning whatever the content is, they are able to read Read about it, write about it, speak about it interact with partners, and understand the oral input that is coming to them. So that’s kind of one of the key focuses we have. Because being co teaching, I’m not seeing every class every day. I’m seeing classes I alternate. And so I want to make sure that when I’m there, we’re really we’re getting the most out of that lesson time.

Ixchell Reyes
So Katie, so now going, going back to how, what tools you’re using to facilitate sharing of the material that students create, what are some of the tools that you’re using? And how do you apply that with our with our language learners.

Unknown Speaker
So one of our go to Tools is the app seesaw, we’ve been using it for a couple of years, and is basically if you’re not familiar with what seesaw is, it’s like a digital portfolio. So every child has their own account. And it allows them to complete activities that the teacher sends and it all kind of state, it’s like a portfolio that they wear all of their work resides. The reason I love that is because when I’m in and out of classrooms, I don’t necessarily have the time to document what Jose said, and then what maryvale said, and then I don’t take the time to write it down. So when students can complete the lesson by interacting in an activity and seesaw, it’s archiving that language. And so then I can go back when it’s time to say, ooh, how are students doing with these standards, or I have to do report card grades, things like that, I’ve got this, this record of their work, to be able to kind of track their progress. And it’s just so wonderful to be able to listen to what they’ve said, and to have each child accountable for that output, whether it’s speaking or drawing or writing or whatever it is that we’re asking them. It’s that individual accountability that our multilingual students are not invisible and quiet in our classrooms, I used to teach kindergarten as the classroom teacher. And I remember, certain students just I don’t, I don’t think I had the tools to really support them that I know about now. And the skill level. And when it would be time to write that it’s a blank page, because they they didn’t know and I didn’t support them and scaffold it so that they could produce something. And the expectation is so different now that ever everyone can do it. Because we’ve scaffold it, we’ve given visuals, we’ve given them the tools we’ve practiced. So by the time they’re doing something on seesaw, they’re very competent to be able to do it independently, or with a little bit of adult assistance, but we’ve prepared them but seesaw provides opportunities to record language provides opportunities to write or draw digitally, they can type, they can listen to teacher recorded directions, or snippets, or whatever it is that you want to provide. So there’s so much versatility in how the teacher can support and also what the students can do to demonstrate their language or their content understanding. It’s I can’t even say enough good things about seesaw. I love it.

Brent Warner
So and Katie with seesaw, and I have not used it. I mean, I’ve been aware of it peripherally for many years. But so you’re saying that seesaw is, I guess, like visually and tactically accessible for even down to kindergarten, kindergarten? Absolutely.

Unknown Speaker
It is not intended to be a tool for distance learning. However, last year, we use it that way. Because it’s, it’s a tool that’s very appropriate for our youngest learners. So I had students who via Google meets, we got them logged in. first graders typing in passwords, that I mean, they’re fun, it is phenomenal what children accomplished. Last year, I got all my kindergarteners set up on seesaw, and then we would do an activity together. And then I would show them using, I used the Osmo. To kind of mirror what I was, I would either mirror my iPad screen or use the Osmo as kind of a document camera so they could see what I was moving around, trying to mimic what we would typically do in a classroom, but they would then do their seesaw activity at home. And it was such a great way for me to have evidence of what they can do not with my help, what they could do by the by themselves. And it’s so easy to make it age appropriate. For example, I can create an activity with four pictures from a story and they can manipulate the pictures to put them in the correct order. And then they can click the microphone and they can retell the story. And I can give them support and scaffold in that or they can do that without support and scaffold but for a Kindle During child having that ability to manipulate and move things around, and it’s, it’s just really, really easy and they learned it so well. And the exciting thing is that the the classroom teachers didn’t use it. So this year, my multilingual learners, as first graders are the experts in seesaw. So I talked to one student at lunch and I said, next week, you’re going to get to use seesaw in first grade with your teacher in me. And I said, but some of the other kids haven’t used it yet. So do you think you can be a helper and her face lit, she was so excited to be able to be an expert on something that the other kids don’t know how to do yet.

Brent Warner
So I love that I’ve had that experience with some of my students, too, when I was when I was first teaching Google Docs. And, you know, none of the other teachers at our school really knew about Google Docs. And then they’d come in and they’re like, no, you’re not doing it, right. This is how you use it. It’s like, it’s such an empowering thing for them to be able to do that. And then to talk about it in English to and tell a teacher or tell another classmate like how it works. I really, you know, like, I love that. I do want to kind of go back. So you, because you’re talking about having students put in passwords or having them do that and maybe using an Osmo cam? Can you can you talk us through just like the actual nuts and bolts because for me even now with adults, I’ll be like, I can’t Hey, no, it’s so much harder for me not sitting next to you or not like being able to like point to things like how are you? What is your your, your step by step process for like how you teach these kids to use the technology when you because we still have some people who are not able to sit next to their kids, right? They’re still online? How do you actually do that without being next?

Unknown Speaker
Oh, my setup was my laptop where I would connect to my Google meet, I also had a separate screen. And that was just so that if I’m sharing something, I can see it on my screen. I didn’t always need it. But my husband is very techie. So he sent me up. And then I also had my I have an iPad, my teacher, iPad from school. And so I would connect to seesaw on my iPad and share my screen with students in the Google meet so they could see everything that I was doing. And having, I think it’s an accessibility feature, that you can have a specific pointer on the iPad screen so that you can move it so they can really track where you’re looking. Because if you’re saying, click this, click this is, is so hard because you don’t know what they’re seeing. And they maybe don’t understand what you’re saying. So being able to physically move that pointer and say, Look, this is where you’re going to click right here, touch that helps a lot for them to focus in on what you’re asking them to do. A lot of times the youngest learners do need parent assistance, assistance. And that also requires supporting parents and understanding what to do because not all parents are like, Oh, sure, yeah. Okay, password, it’s if there’s another language use in the home, and you’re trying to give technology directions, that’s a barrier. I know for myself. I do speak Spanish is far from perfect. But I learned a lot of technology vocabulary in Spanish through hearing. The interpreters explain things in various meetings, like I didn’t know how to say screen, I didn’t know how to say password, I didn’t know how to say, link. And now I’ve learned all those things. So technology is a vocab like it’s it’s vocabulary on its own to learn all those things. So it was not easy. But the students and their parents worked so hard. And there were so many successes. And I think it’s important to celebrate all of those, that you know, the bumps, but that we were able to do a lot because parent communication was really important. And that was part of successes, messaging parents and saying, Can you do this, this is you know, here’s a video how or sometimes I would screen, record the instructions and say it in Spanish and my best attempt at Spanish, to show them visually how to do it, I think that’s a huge thing for language learners is the visual, you can’t just say it, you have to show it and show it slowly and be clear with the steps and, and all those things help.

Ixchell Reyes
You know, I didn’t even it didn’t even dawn on me that I could use the accessibility feature to do that. Because, you know, even with adults, and especially language learners, that may come from a country where you’re not used to using a browser or even checking email often that’s a whole procedure and also, you know, entering passwords, but it never dawned on me that I could try to, you know, look through the settings because that would have would have made it a lot easier for some of my students who have I’ve had students who didn’t know how to use a mouse or you know, just logging into the computer and then logging into a browser and then logging into something else that you know You’re right by saying click here, that doesn’t always make it clear.

Brent Warner
So, Katie, we’ve also got, you know, tons of stuff we can keep talking about with kids. But we also want to talk about your work with teachers, right? And your new book coming out as well. So, so I love this title when I saw him like, Oh, nice. It’s DIY PD, a guide to self directed learning for educators of multilingual learners. And I want to talk a little bit about this, because I think a lot of teachers, especially in our field, and maybe maybe this has changed more over the last year, year and a half, of course, because we’re forced on the computers, but a lot of, you know, LTS are, you know, like, I don’t, haven’t always known of ways to pursue their own professional development, or they feel like, the only way that I can do this is if I go to a teasle conference once a year, and that’s the only time I’m going to learn anything right? Now, of course, that’s not really true. Not true at all. There’s so many resources out there, but I want to kind of, I want to talk about this and like, you know, share what you’re, you’re looking at what you’re trying to offer to people or let people know about. And, you know, see where you got started with this and, and how, how people have been responding to it as well.

Unknown Speaker
Sure. Um, so a little background, Carol Silva, john wayne, and I wrote this book together, and we met on Twitter. Or we connected I guess we’ll say on Twitter. And it, there’s so much power just in that, of having this place, this virtual place where you can connect with people who are not necessarily in your geographic location, your country, and learning from them and communicating with them and collaborating. In order to, to learn something that I think we’ve heard from a lot of teachers in our field in the field of teaching language learners and multilingual students is that the professional development that is provided to us doesn’t necessarily meet our specific needs, or fulfill that passion we have for learning. There’s a lot of professional development that’s necessary things that we need to learn in order to move forward and to understand the systems and curricula, and things that are in place. And there’s room for a lot of more nuanced and specific professional learning that feeds our soul and feeds. What we want for our students, and more specifically addresses the needs of students who are multilingual learners. So over the years of really just starting on Twitter, I think the three of us found so much power in all of the different opportunities and ways to learn. I know and I know, we’re going to get into talking about mljet book club. Also, MLM photo book club has been the source of the majority of my professional learning around serving multilingual learners. And the fact that the authors who write the books that we read, are on Twitter also and willing to interact and willing to support us in our learning. Feels like Wait, is this really happening? Because normally, like you said, Brent, you go to a conference, and you pay a lot of money to go to a conference, sometimes there aren’t funds available to teachers. And so it’s out of pocket expense. I know, for me, I love going to conferences, I’m in my zone to go to a conference. I also have two children at home, and a partner who works and it’s not always easy to just say, Okay, well, I’m gonna go to, I’m gonna go to another state for a couple of days and learn, you know, that involves taking time off from work, and then writing some plans and there can be a lot to it. Going to a conference is a hugely valuable experience. And there are other things that you can also do, if that’s something that’s not available to you. So that’s kind of the spark and the idea for our book is that there are a lot of opportunities that are available to you. And they’re not all expensive. They’re not all one and done so that you do it and then you you move on. Our goal is really to find opportunities that help you connect with as many people in the field as possible that you have opportunities that are associated with a cost two that’s reasonable to you and many of them are free and that there’s community involved and that there’s continuity involved. So that There’s kind of this continuous learning and growing together, that it’s not something that just ends and you’re on your own. And really, I, I can honestly say that Twitter was the foundation for my professional growth in terms of connecting with other people who do what I do. There are many teachers, like you mentioned before Brent, who might be the only language teacher in a school or maybe even in a larger, you know, district of schools that don’t feel connected to other people who do what they do. And there are a lot of teachers in our field who feel isolated, who feel like they work in a silo.

Unknown Speaker
And that’s not a good feeling. So our goal is to connect people, and to engage in learning with others, and really to be able to say, you know, what, I really want to learn about choice sports, I want my students to have choice, okay, I’m going to tweet this out, and I’m going to find somebody who can help me and it’s really self directed is the key, because there are things that we can decide for ourselves that we need. And that involves a lot of self reflection of, you know, what I want to dry coteaching it’s not being presented to me right now as an option. Or maybe it is, but I don’t have a lot of tools, and I need help. So I’m gonna go out and find them. And that that is a reality, honestly, through Twitter and other social media avenues. And just as a result of becoming connected with people in the field, because there are so many giving people who are willing to help and give advice or provide resources, and it’s kind of just a matter of learning how to navigate it, in order to have so much at our fingertips.

Brent Warner
Yeah, we, Ixchell and I talked about that quite a bit because we’re because we met over over Twitter. And you know, we have the same relationship to, even though we weren’t at that time, we weren’t very far, far away from each other. And we would run and run into each other at conferences or those types of things. But it is super powerful, right? Because you, you get that chance. And it’s like, I don’t have to go to the event and make you know, every you know, like maybe, you know, I you know, Ixchell says she’s super introverted, and I am somewhat introverted. But, you know, like, maybe we wouldn’t have talked as much if it wasn’t for some opportunity like Twitter, right? where it’s like, oh, now we’ve got these little points that we’re kind of touching base on and then we’re able to flip that and grow that into something else there too. So I think that’s really valuable and and I also talked about the same thing with conferences. As much as I love them to kind of the same way you’re talking about Katie is I am usually not willing to take time off and leave my students in order to go to that conference. And so when they do these midweek conferences, okay, we’re gonna have a conference from Monday to Thursday, I’m like, What are you doing? This is so I have to either choose between going to the conferences or serving my students directly. I’m gonna choose my students, you know, like and so I really that’s why I really love this idea of doing PD on your own are kind of working it out on yourself. And of course, there are many conferences that do weekend so not not saying everywhere, but so can you share a little bit, let’s let’s talk about like one or two of the free, free things that people could do right now just to kind of start building for themselves.

Unknown Speaker
Okay: one, what we’re doing right now, podcasts. I listen to podcasts on my way to work, not every day, maybe that’s not something I want to do Monday through Friday. But I often will listen to Carol until they have wonderful podcasts. Yours is another example of a podcast where you can just in your commute, get some great knowledge and information that you can incorporate. And it’s something that I’m spending time in the car anyway. Or maybe I’m spending time at the end of my evening cleaning the kitchen and emptying the dishwasher and making my kids lunches and I can have an expert in my ear sharing information. And that’s that’s a great way to just access information. And it might spark an area of curiosity or it might answer a question you’ve been having, or it might just give you more information or a book to read or another idea another person to follow on Twitter. There’s just so much and it’s it’s not there’s not a cost. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you can do it from your home. It’s flexible. That’s one of our main goals is that flexibility because to just touch back to the idea of a conference, like everybody has their own ideas of what works, and our intention is never to say, well, let’s get rid of this kind of PD in favor of this. That everything has value, it’s just a matter of what works and when, and how you can individually navigate it. So we try to really encourage flexibility so that it’s going to work for busy teachers, because there’s not a lot of time. And I know that even in starting on Twitter, which is free, there would be chats, and they would happen at five o’clock in my timezone. And I had toddlers at the time, and I really wanted to participate. And then not good things would happen if mom is focused on Twitter, while the game you know, it’s it’s dinnertime, I have to make dinner, I have to do all these things. And so that’s where my idea came up, I want to do this, but I want to be able to, to give my input at any time of day, you know, maybe it’s in the middle of the night when I wake up and I can’t sleep, or maybe it’s once the kids are tucked in bed, or maybe it’s first thing in the morning when I’m having my coffee. And so that flexibility is wonderful. So one free Avenue is podcasts. Another that is often free is webinars. So the idea of a conference can be expensive. And once we kind of went into teaching during the pandemic, webinars really became widespread. Companies like Corwin offer a Monday afternoon webinar series where their book authors will share content from books and it’s free, you register and then get the link and you can attend when it’s happening live. Or often. If you can’t make it, you can get the link and watch later. I know time zones can be an issue. So I have learned just sign up. Even if you don’t think you can go just sign up. And most a lot not every time but most often you will receive the link so you can watch it at your convenience. And those those things don’t have a cost to them. So not only can you save some money, but you can also have choice in what webinar really affects you what is really going to connect and be relevant to your daily work with students. Same with with podcasts, and there’s just there’s a lot out there, that’s one of the things that we had to kind of learn is there so much, you have to learn what connects to your need, or your interests and kind of filter so that you can focus on things that really work for you and really inform your practice.

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah, and I as as Brent and I both know, once you find a resource or a person that you that you really connect with, when you’re listening, it’s like they will introduce you via their resources to other like minded individuals. And so then it just, you know, the explosion of, of PD free PD that you have out there accessible. So Katie, as we’re getting closer to the end of the show, I want to make sure that we talk about the book club. Because that’s one of you know, that’s that’s I think that’s how I first heard about you through Brent, and and of course, through Carol, but that’s most of the posts that I get that pop up on my Twitter are the book club. And so if you could talk a little bit about that,

Unknown Speaker
yeah, when I first became a language specialist, we did not co teach. And I had a colleague that said, we should co teach and we didn’t know anything about it. And I saw Andrea onyx Feld and Maria dubs book, one of their books about co teaching. And I tweeted a picture of the cover and I said, I, I’m going to read this. Now I want to I need to learn about co teaching. I’m gonna read this and Tom tweeted back, let’s let’s read let’s both read it and tweet about it. Like let’s have a it was basically an online book club. And we’re like, Okay, well, let’s have a hashtag so that we can, you know, keep it organized. And Tom said, How about llj book club? Okay. And that was literally it. Like, let’s read a book at the same time. And let’s use Twitter as a platform to share our thoughts. And just it kind of organically grew up. Okay, well, let’s have a reading schedule, so that we’re kind of focusing on the same part at the same time. And then we would have some questions for discussion. And sometimes they come right from the book, a lot of authors embed reflection questions in their texts. And sometimes it’s questions that we would kind of think of together that would be relevant for teachers to reflect on or discuss. And basically, that was it. The idea was, tweet whenever you can. It wasn’t tied to a certain time zone or a certain geographic location because no one was in. I forget where he was at the I think he was in Lao at the time. So there’s not probably going to be a time of day where we could chat live because we’re busy working. And so kind of the asynchronous piece on Twitter was really cool. And it just authentically grew even in the first round. Andrea hudiksvall chimed in. And she was the author and that blew our minds because I always put authors on a pedestal like Boeing and If authors are excited and interested to engage with people who are interested in their work, and they are interested in sharing their expertise, and talking to people about what they wrote about, if you write a book about something, you’d like to talk about it, you’re very interested in it. So it was kind of this realization that authors want to interact too. And that was really cool. And it just, we started to move from one book to another, the bookshop really goes year round. And sometimes I’ll ask for suggestions and, and participants can vote. So that way the book that’s chosen is kind of the majority vote, sometimes a great new book comes out and I say we’re reading this this is gonna be it’s gonna be awesome. And they just announced this is what we’re doing. And then recently, we shifted from El Chapo club to mljet book club just to reflect what the discussion in the field that using the term multilingual learners is more inclusive and does not place English as the emphasis of what students need to have but really nll multilingual learner values, the languages that students have with their families, and at home, in addition to learning English in the classroom. But the book chat has really grown. And it’s amazing over the years, I think we’ve been doing it since November of 2016. So we’re coming up on five years, did I do that math, right? Yeah, yeah. And we’ve done over 30 books studies, we’ve had so many authors and experts in the field participate, and it’s just a wonderful opportunity to learn, kind of from your own home, at your own convenience. And we also say even if you don’t have the book, I recognize that buying all the books can add up cost wise, but you can learn just by reading what people are saying. And there’s other layers, we now have people that sketchnote what they learned from the books or create graphics, or, you know, maybe there’s a podcast episode where the author talks about it. So there’s different layers. And that’s really what our book is about, is finding those different ways we have a chapter about, or section about layering your learning together. So it’s not just reading the book, but it’s reading it and then connecting on Twitter to talk to others and engage with the author and experts in the field. And then maybe it is listening to a podcast about it. Or maybe it’s finding a novel where the main character is has a similar background to a student you teach to really gain insight into what some of our students go through, and then layering that in with your understanding of your practice, and pedagogy and how to meet the needs of learners. And there’s just, there’s so many different things to do.

Unknown Speaker
To learn so much, there’s so many opportunities out there. And we’ve kind of organized our book in according to the different domains, like we know that it used to be called receptive learning, and expressive now we call it interpretive, and expressive, and interactive. So we’ve kind of layered it. And I love that you mentioned that the two of you are a little introverted, because I am too, totally connected. And one of the things that that I remember writing myself is sometimes you need that time to just reflect on your own before you’re ready to engage with other people. And so there are a lot of avenues that just allow for a person independently to learn and process and think and formulate new ideas and weave the new in with what they already do. And then there’s opportunities to be expressive in that to write about it, or sketch note about it or draw about it. And there’s opportunities to then interact with other people, and maybe collaborate on a project or collaborate on presenting. There’s there’s a lot of different avenues. And something that I’ve learned is that when you decide to present at a conference, sometimes that comes with free admission. So when we talk about how costs can be a barrier to going to a conference, if you’re willing to put yourself out there and present about an idea that you have or something you’re doing in your classroom that might help financially with with being able to attend the conference because some organizations gift you that admission fee if you’re a presenter.

Brent Warner
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a whole nother conference. I’ve gotten into that conversation a few times my belief is that every organization should cover you if you’re going to be a present for them. But one thing I kind of want to just as we’re wrapping up and talking about this, you know, I love that it’s on Twitter and that there’s a hashtag for it because we might not be able, like you said to read every book or, or, or get everything but also it’s an archive, right and so even even if I I am a month or a year late, too late to, when I whenever I get around to reading this book, I can Say, Hey, I have some thoughts on this, I want to go either see what other people are talking about on this book. And I can go back and see in ML chat book club or or an E LL. So go and find, you know, double check on both the hashtags, I guess for it, but you can go see a bunch of other teachers who have also been talking about that same thing, right? And I love that it’s available at any time out, do people come back to older book like you’re done with this book? And do people still comment on previous books as well,

Unknown Speaker
what I’ve had more often is a an educator within a certain district contact me and say, I want to do a book study on this one. And it might be a book from years ago. culturally responsive teaching in the brain is a really popular one, we did that maybe in or within our first year, it was around like five or six or something early on. And I have all of the rounds, archived also on a blog. And that way, I can direct someone to there and they can access the questions that we had, or I can’t remember if all of the rounds are on there, it’s, as I said, things kind of grew. And we’re in a place now where it’s really slick. There’s an interactive notebook with all the information. And so at least for recent rounds, the interactive notebook for every round we’ve done recently is right in the blog, so somebody can go and look. And they can have a great idea of how to organize that for their own colleagues, they have examples of questions they can use, they have examples of a reading schedule, so they can kind of take that and run with it in their own context where maybe they are doing a face to face Facebook study with colleagues in a certain school or within a certain organization.

Ixchell Reyes
Awesome, yeah, we’re gonna, we’re gonna have to include that. One of the things that I had to do this year, his teacher class I hadn’t taught before, of course, and it was a TOEFL prep class, for higher ed students. But a lot of the topics of course, with it being language prep, had to do with stuff we learned in podcasts and the number one place, I would go to his twitter and then search and then see which of my call, well, my PLN colleagues had posted either links to videos or have tweeted to the author or the speaker. And then I had immediate resources where, you know, my institution didn’t have those for me, but they were there. And so I love that weekend, always plug in those things that we can do. And then furthermore, then you become sort of a little expert on it. And as you said it going to a conference now you can present and even sometimes it makes you better at knowing who you’re going to go see, because now you know who to seek when you’re at the conference rather than just you know, being overwhelmed, especially if you’re new in conferences, but those of us who thrive at attending those PD sessions that makes you a better you can discern better what to attend and how to scaffold your own.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, and that’s kind of a an overarching theme of our book is that that term self directed that it’s really it’s each educators thinking deeply about what they know what they want to know where to find these things and navigating it so that I mean for me, that’s what keeps my my heart in it because I’m so passionate and excited when I get to choose. And there’s there’s, there’s a different feeling of being assigned something and feeling like you are responsible for making a choice based on something that really is an interest for you, or really something that will help your specific students that you’re connected to.

Brent Warner
Absolutely, there’s so much cool stuff to be able to pursue it and Katie, I feel like we could keep on talking. But let’s jump out and jump over to fun times.

Ixchell Reyes
Okay, it is time for our fun finds. And this time around, I found this app, it’s called vocal extractor. And if you’re into music and karaoke, sometimes you can’t find just the track without the words to your favorite song and I have this favorite song that again, I’m not a good singer or anything, I just do it because it’s fun. And I really wanted to try to sing that song, but I couldn’t do it with the vocals. So this app just takes any song I haven’t tried with any other types of tracks just music, but it isolates the voice from the backing track and then you can just save either just the the vocal track or the the musical back backing track ends and you can do whatever and over i mean if you’re overlaying things and doing other stuff I you know, I started thinking kind of a cool thing. It is a paid app, but it’s worth it. To 99 and and I’ve had a lot of fun releasing stress they gave to my favorite song. But that is vocal extractor

Brent Warner
Awesome. Um, so mine is just a movie a classic movie Rear Window Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart and I did I I don’t know if I’d ever seen it before I just started watching it anyways it’s a very well known movie I don’t need to explain very much but I was just thrilled by watching it because it’s it’s the way that it’s filmed. And the way that it’s made was like it’s just so interestingly filmed and the way you kind of see little peaks and slices into different people’s lives inside of there and the reactions and, and the way that the story is put together. I was just, you know, it’s a classic movie ever. Anybody who’s like a film buff is gonna be you know, questioning question, like, why don’t why haven’t you seen this before? But anyways, so rear window, if you just want a an evening off to watch a different type of movie, I don’t think that you know, there’s no other movies that are really quite like it. So it’s worth a watch Alfred Hitchcock’s original Katie, do you have a fun find?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, so mine is an app and it’s called Habit. And I’ve said this before on Twitter if I present as as somebody who’s very organized the truth is that I’m not and I like many people struggle to kind of just keep all the boxes checked. So habit is a cool app where you can enter in different things that you want to accomplish and you could have daily habits or you could set them for different intervals across the week. And then just as you go throughout your day, you can check them off and it’s kind of if you if you like to have that competitive sense in you, you know, checks it off it gives you a little award if you do for the day, but for me honestly it’s things right now like drink water, because when I go to school and I have my mask on the whole day, I find that I’m not drinking water. So I’ve got drink water on there, take your vitamins, skincare, some of those just self care things that I honestly neglected a lot in the past year. I’m trying to get back on track exercising so I’m finding it helpful to use and it also tells you how many days in a row you have successfully completed that habit. So when I’m like to take my vitamins I look oh, I’ve done it for 35 days in a row. I can’t breathe. Just just helpful to keep a little bit of organization in my life when some sometimes it feels pretty, pretty busy and overextended right now.

Brent Warner
Absolutely. Awesome.

Ixchell Reyes
Thank you so much for listening to the show. You could win a one of a kind DIESOL pin by leaving us a review on Apple podcast and if you’re giving us a shout out any other way tag us on social media where on all of them.

Brent Warner
We’re also on Patreon with our little special bonus episodes available for you as well. We’ll be following up with Katie for a couple of quick questions there. You can find the show notes all the links to everything we’ve been talking about here at DIESOL.org/52 You can also listen to us on voice at Canada that’s v-o-i-c-e-d.ca. You can find the show on twitter @DIESOLpod and you can find me @BrentGWarner

Ixchell Reyes
You can find me, Ixchell, at @Ixy_pixy that’s I-X-Y underscore P-I-X-Y and Katie, where can we find you on Twitter?

Unknown Speaker
My handle is at Katie toppel and it’s @katietoppel

Brent Warner
And Katie, where else can people find you?

Unknown Speaker
Um I am on Instagram and that handle is at @Toppel_ELD it is a private account but I do pretty much accept everyone I just I prefer to keep it private in the event that I have anything connected to my students on there

Brent Warner
Awesome. So thank you so much for joining us Katie we’re super excited about all of this and we hope everybody has picked up some some awesome hints and tips and and ways to kind of approach their classes in the upcoming well throughout the rest of the semester and moving forward.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you so much for having me. It was a fun conversation. In Japanese Thank you very much is “Domo arigato.” Domo Arigato for tuning into the DIESOL podcast.

Ixchell Reyes
Thank you, everyone.

Dr. Katie Toppel (@Katietoppel) is a language specialist serving multilingual learners in Oregon. She is the co-founder and leader of #MLLChat_BkClub on Twitter and co-author of the book DIY PD: A Guide to Self-Directed Learning for Educators of Multilingual Learners along with Carol Salva and Tan Huynh. Join us as we discuss littles and the approach to helping them thrive in the digital classroom. Dr. Toppel also shares her insights to the new school year and her upcoming book release to make PD more tailored and accessible.

DIY PD: A Guide to Self-Directed Learning for Educators of Multilingual LearnersOut October 29th, 2021!

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