Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our First Book Donations: Robert-Leslie Publishing


You don't know how I feel right now, but I want to cry.

Not tears of sadness.  But tears of joy, knowing that we are getting closer to starting this after school program.

My heart is slowly melting in a soothing warmth.

But I know the hard parts are not over yet.

Thank you, Marilyn Overby.  You have brought this boy so much inspiration and joy.

Marilyn was whom I contacted from Robert-Leslie.  And she and R-L are saints.  We have our first book donations.

These are the first few steps towards the work that God put us on this Earth to do.

From the bottom of heart,
Marvin Espinoza

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Update! February Goals

All right guys.  January has been a big month.

We accomplished all of our goals!

1.  We applied for RSO status.
2.  We applied for start up capital from the Dean's Fund.
3.  We got our lesson plan template research-approved.
4.  We have engaged in outreach to gather books for our Spring start.
5.  We have a developing partnership with Richard J Daley Elementary.

Next Steps:
1.  Get our members trained in administering and analyzing the UEI's STEP education tool.
2.  Get our members to observe pre-school classrooms.
3.  Get our members trained in classroom best-practices and classroom management.
4.  Plan how to relate Dean's Fund back to the University Community (a requirement).

This is our plan for relating the Dean's Fund back to campus:

"Where does immigration, early childhood education, economic opportunity, and cognitive development all intersect?"

Who we're thinking of getting:

Immigration:  Robert Gonzalez, SSA Professor, University of Chicago
Economics:  James Heckman, Economics Professor, U of C
Cognitive Development:  Molly Thayer, Director of Literacy, UEI
Catherine Corr, PhD Candidate in Early Childhood Education and ELLs, UIC-Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

RSO Application? CHECK

All right, guys.  We passed a major milestone today:  ALMas officially applied for Registered Student Organization (RSO) status, and it looks like all our work is paying off.

Goals achieved:

1.  We've officially applied for RSO status
2.  We've basically secured our school for running our pilot-program with 17 pre-k latino students.
3.  I spoke with Carol Balser, Lead HeadStart teacher at Richard J Daley Elementary, and she seems ecstatic about having ALMas (especially since we're research based!).

The next few steps include:

  1. I'm scheduling ALMas training sessions for my Outreach Team, so that we are all on the same page when we call book publishers for book donations and permissions.
    1. I already have the list and contact names.  It's now just about implementing the strategy and pitching ALMas to these organizations for publicity (and we're a small pilot-program)
  2. Applying to the Dean's Fund for Student Life
    1. Average grants from this fund range from $750 - $1500 as a one-time installment for a program that must be integrated into UChicago student life.  
    2. That's good news for ALMas, because this is startup capital to pay for the $65/hour rate for the supervising pre-k teacher in our classroom during our afterschool program.
      1. We'll be relating this back to campus with a conference on early childhood education with a focus on ELL students and poverty in the United States, as well as the economic benefits of quality early childhood education and development.
  3. I'll need to speak with Molly Thayer, Director of Literacy at the UEI, and Catherine Corr, PhD candidate at UIC, to schedule training sessions for our members.
    1. Molly for: training our volunteers to use the STEP education evaluation tool
    2. Catherine for: training for in classroom instruction best practices
  4. I'll need to also schedule different meeting times with Carol Balser, so that ALMas members can observe a pre-school classroom and see what it's like firsthand to work with young children.  (I had to do this multiple times!  And it was a great experience!  But also frightening because little children can get crazy very quickly--tat's what training is for).

To think about where ALMas was at the beginning of the 2012 summer--just an idea--to now becoming an actual program...I don't know, I'm taken aback.  This has been months in the works, talking to all types of early childhood education professionals, academics, and practitioners; meeting with after school programs all around Chicago to understand what works and what doesn't; going through the literature on sociocultural theory, tansfer theory, and all the research on language development as it relates to cognitive development, ability, and economic opportunity--I'm left almost breathless.

But this is no time to take a break.  The best part has just begun.  And it's the best part that takes the most work.

But as Theodore Roosevelt said,

So then let this be me caring.  By doing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pitching Practice: Taking the Next Step

Time to practice pitching for ALMas and maybe get some contacts within the publishing industry to talk about getting permissions and books for our kids!

At Taking the Next Step, kind of a networking event for UChicago undergrads at the Marriott Hotel, Pete Beatty, an '03 graduate!

He works at Bloomsbury Publishing, and right now that publishing house has a series of literacy-dedicated non-fiction picture books. 

Pitching, LIKE A BOSS.

I've asked Spencer Claxton, member of the ALMas' Research Committee to find information on Pete Beatty, because rule number of pitching:


That way, you can ask them about their career choices, their history, soften them up as friends--that way, when they see you're not only kind, dedicated, and intelligent, you plan and enact:  you're a shaker with a heart! 
People love shakers with hearts.  Especially when those shakers seem to be little versions of themselves (which is where background information comes in!).
NEVER BE FALSE, however.  The worst thing you can do is LIE. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Research PAYS OFF

Just got the research-based stamp of approval for ALMas' lesson plans from TWO of our early childhood education friends and professionals.

Going in the right direction. #onedirection

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meeting Set Up with Lead HeadStart Teacher at Richard J Daley


Done this morning:

1.  Scheduled meeting with lead HeadStart teacher at Richard J Daley Academy on the 16th of January
2.  Left message with the Assistant Principal at William H. Seward Elementary School. 
 Going to keep getting action. 
3.  Updated Gloria Panama on ALMas' progress. 

Gloria is the Executive Director at the Charles A Hayes Family Clinic that provides after school programming for at-risk youth in Chicago while also providing young adults with literacy education for job-skill development.  She is our first Advisory Board member, and a great friend and resource.

As Teddy Roosevelt said,

"Don't fritter away your time...Be somebody; get action."

Friday, January 4, 2013

By the End of January: Goals to Achieve

By the end of January, the ALMas team should have finished the following:

1.  Found and created a partnership with our partner HeadStart program and public school
2.  Successfully applied ALMas as a Registered Student Organization
3.  Have a detailed outline of our general lesson plan structure for weekly pre-k sessions
     (all edited and revised by our early childhood education advisors)
4.  Finish rough draft or working draft of our pre-k curriculum.
4.  Have our logo already finished.
5.  Have our website up and running (or at least to be up and running by 6th week).


Interesting Piece of Information: HeadStart in Illinois

Illinois Early Learning Project. (2012). FAQ: What does the research say 
           about dual language learners? Retrieved on Nov. 1, 2012 

1.      “If a child meets the criteria (tested for English proficiency) and at least 20 students share the same language, the child must be offered a transitional bilingual education preschool class that will provide instruction in basic academic skills in his or her native language as he or she learns English (ISBE, 2010). If there are 19 or fewer preschool DLL students who speak the same language in a public school district attendance center, then a locally determined transitional program of instruction, usually including English as a Second Language (ESL) and home language support, is to be provided for those DLL students.
2.     " The new regulations also require that by 2014 lead teachers in bilingual preschool classes be certified in bilingual instruction or in English as a second language, as well as in early childhood education. The number of early childhood educators who already have both these certifications is currently not enough to meet the demand statewide, although many school districts are encouraging dual certification. Many observers are concerned that the new regulations will pose problems for school districts already facing financial difficulties (Malone, 2010)."

Winter Quarter: Week 1 Battle Plans

Here are the objectives we have to meet this first week of school to make sure we're on track.

Before all of this, I have a call with Edna, a preschool bilingual teacher for the Chicago Heights Early Childhood Center, and I'm going to ask her about what types of activities she provides her students that come from a limited English background.

Questions I need to ask Edna:

How does she tailor instruction?
How do the children learn over the year?
What types of improvements have you seen?  How large are they?
How behind have your most behind students?  How do you work with them?
What should be the beginning activities for a child at the beginning stages of just learning how to use language and connecting it to letters and words?
What types of activities have you found to be the most effective?
How do you make a progressive program?  Harder words?  How do you determine that?
How do you determine the pace?

Battle Plans:
  1. Monday and Tuesday: 
    1. I need to talk to Ms. Panama from the Charles A Hayes Family Clinic and ask for the connection to CPS school director she knows.  He can pull some strings.
    2. call the 7 schools and find out who is in charge of overseeing the HeadStart program at the respective school.
      1. Figure out if each respective program teaches fully in Spanish or partially
    3. Let them know about ALMas and our plan
    4. See if they are interested
    5. If interested, get in contact with the appropriate HeadStart teacher
    6. Meet with Professor Sedlar and have her as our Academic Advisor, unless we can get Roberto Gonzalez, or the professor advised to me by Steve.   (That may be a good option).
  2. During the team meeting:
    1. divide up the team into two groups:  
      1. Group 1: RSO Application and Website Design - led by Marina
        1. Figure out what we need to apply for RSO status
        2. Get materials together and apply by THIRD WEEK (so, second week)
        3. whole group: Start thinking about funding sources on campus AND fundraising opportunities
        4. Get them in touch with Shuwen, our website developer
      2. Group 2: Curriculum design and Lesson Plan Development - led by Marvin
        1. Review literature read over Winter Break and synthesize information
        2. Finish general outline for lesson plans and weekly routine
        3. After the routine, figure out what books would be helpful
        4. After input from HS teacher, we move forward with tailoring themes and vocabulary words for lesson plans
    2. Each respective group will take on the responsibilities designated to them
  3. Figure out which publishing houses will be useful for finding appropriate books for pre-k children whose native language is Spanish
    1. Daniel should have a list available by this time
  4. Get Eugene on board and see what's up with the graphics, or else we'll just find something else.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First Rough Draft of Program

Rough Outline of Program Structure

Short Introduction

All activities are prefaced with the teacher giving the students explicit, clear, and specific instructions as to what they will be engaged in and how they will perform their tasks.  
The teacher will demonstrate the steps taken while explaining them.

All activities must integrate some or all of:
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Comprehension

Structure for Back-to-Back Instruction

Option 1
1.  Introductory activity (song and name-game) - 2-5 minutes
(Re-) Introduce theme of the week
(Remind) Introduce students to line of activities for the day

2.  Dialogic Reading (small group)  - 15 - 20 minutes
Focus: reading, speaking, comprehension

3.  Interactive Journaling (small group) - 10 minutes
Focus: writing, speaking, comprehension

4.  Poetry Recitation / Major Song Activity (large group) - 10 minutes
Focus: reading, speaking

5.  ABC Picture/Word Wall Activity (large group) - 10 minutes
Focus: reading, speaking

5.  End of class activity - 5 - 10 minutes
Total Time: 57 - 65 minutes

Rough Description of Activities

  1. Dialogic Read aloud to students (small group)
    1. use picture book
    2. Led by teacher, have group of 4 students sit in front of the teacher reading the story book while asking questions (already prepared beforehand) to ask
    3. Teacher makes mental notes as to who is answering and who is not
  2. Interactive Journaling (small group)
    1. provide student with journal and have them draw a picture of something they did today or the day before at home
    2. ask student to add a description (if they can, depending upon literacy level)
    3. teacher must take note of writing-ability progress of particular students
    4. teacher asks student what s/he is drawing and why (allow student to expand upon reasoning, and then continue)
  3. Poetry Recitation or Sing aloud (large group)
    1. This is where we integrate some physical body motions
    2. have students clap syllables
    3. have large pictures depicting actions and characters in the poem/song (even large cutouts)
    4. large poster with large print so students can “read” along with the teacher
  4. ABC Picture/Word Wall Activity (to follow poetry recitation/sing aloud in large group)
    1. (all pictures/activities do not have to be related to theme of the week)
    2. work on vocabulary related to theme of the week (either reinforcing vocabulary worked on in school or new vocabulary)
    3. Have pictures of actions or people in the 29 slots available (29 letters in Spanish)
    4. while playing a singing game that calls the students individually (led by teacher) the student will be asked to name the action or picture on the picture word wall (drawing randomly from a jar to get the letter, which student will be asked to name--help provided by teacher if need be)
    5. Have a larger picture available of each item with the spelling of the word broken into its syllables and in large print
    6. teacher reads the word to student, and student repeats.  Student asked to repeat a specific phrase from a sentence frame (to practice oral skills and correct use of grammar):
      1. e.g. - “I can see that the picture from the Picture Wall is a picture of  __________, and the word _________ begins with the letter ____.”

Reasoning for order

Dialogic reading begins the sessions because it provides the student interactive book exposure to appropriate language use and reading comprehension while developing the students’ vocabularies.

Interactive journaling comes just after they’ve been exposed to putting sentences together and connecting those sentences to actions and pictures in from dialogic reading.  Now they themselves may create a “page” with a picture and some text with guidance from their student teacher who will also ask them their reasoning for drawing their pictures or events (while also taking note as to which students are comfortable with text and which aren’t).  Students here focus on becoming comfortable with transitioning from speaking and listening to reflecting and writing their thoughts down.

Once these two small group sessions are over, the students will come together to recite poetry and/or sing songs related to their cultural backgrounds (nursery rhymes in Spanish from all over Latin-America) with big cutouts of the imagery in the poetry and text to go along with the cutouts.  Students here will again focus on connecting the relationships between words and images/actions.  They will also focus on the connection between words and sounds, how they are made of units of sound (further expanded upon in the next activity).

After the poetry recital/sing along in large group, the group will then move to a fun interactive Picture/Word Wall Activity.  Here students will play a game where they are individually called (in a song).  The called student will go to a jar and pick out a piece of paper.  The piece of paper will have a picture of a character/image from the day’s reading or a picture of a fellow classmate.  The teacher then asks the student to match the picture to the appropriate “square” on the picture/word wall.  The wall lists all 29 letters of the Spanish alphabet.  To the right of each letter there is a short list of pictures from the day’s lesson or a picture of a classmate. Behind each “picture” there is a word the spells the vocabulary word or name referenced by that picture, and the first letter of that word matches to the alphabet letter to the left.  The teacher will then pull out that word and stick it onto a larger picture of the vocab word.  The student will then be asked to “read” from a sentence frame like the one provided in the description of the picture/word wall.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lack of Work and Determination

I've taken myself much too lightly these past three weeks.

I've only finished a small fraction of what I've wanted to finish for ALMas.

And because of this lack of consistent determination, I think I may lose some of my teammates belief in me.

But it's not over yet.

It ain't over 'til it's over.  And I'm not calling this over.

The next few steps will be to divide the team up into two groups.

One group will focus on applying for Registered Student Organization RSO status at UChicago as well as focusing on website development,

The other group will be composed of those members that read about pre-school teaching this witnter break and will team with me to finish our curriculum, as well as contacting the 7 schools on our list of potential partners:

School Name
Radius from Campus
Percent of Hisp Stud
Percent ELL (in school)
Street Address
Principal name
Main Office Number
Carson, Rachel

Daley, Richard J
5024 S Wolcott Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60609
Rhonda Genise Hoskins
(773) 535-9091
Seward, William H.
4600 S Hermitage Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60619
Nora Alicia Cadenas
Graham, Alexander
4436 S Union Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60609
John Nichols
(773) 535-1308
Hamline, John H
4747 S Bishop St
Taina Velazquez-Drover
773 535 4565
McClellan, George B.
3527 s. Wallace St
Joseph Anthony Shoffner
773 535 1340
Fulton, Robert
5300  Hermitage Ave
Ms, Cherie Anne Novak
773 535 9000

We need to figure out the following:
1.  Full day HeadStart program, or not?
2.  Is primary instruction in Spanish or English?
3.  Would they like us to work with their children?
4.  If so, we need speak with the pre-school teacher and figure out where the children stand to tailor instruction and set up evaluation times.

Do I see some long days in the Regenstein library