HOW IT WORKS
Colorful Family Memories exposes ESL students
to writing-workshop methods and incorporates four modes of learning.
The students discuss family relationships and the influence these
relationships have had on their lives. They listen to and read
numerous picture books including The Relatives Came by Cynthia
Rylant, Loving by Ann Morris, Saturday Mornings by Joelie Hancock,
We’re Good Friends, My Grandma and I by R.K. Hallinan, and Good
Luck Gold by Janet Wong. The texts are presented as read-alouds or
shared readings, and students respond to them in their classroom
sketchbooks. The sketchbooks or journals are used for drawing and
writing “seed” ideas for future pieces. The responses may be in the
form of a list, semantic map, quickie write, free write, or sketch. The
teacher can specify the form, giving the students a structured
Next, students choose several responses to elaborate
on. They share their writing and experiences with their peers in small collaborative
groups, enabling them to discuss familiar ideas in English. In the final phase, the writers develop specific
strategies, using two texts as models. As elsewhere, teacher modeling is essential. In My
Family and Family Pictures by Carmen Lomas Garzo are incorporated in
These two books model certain writing features
and styles, and bring recognition to bilingualism in literature. The focus turns to creating
sentences and developing paragraphs with main ideas and details
that create images in the reader’s mind. Through drafting and peer
editing, students publish narrative pieces in both English and their
native language to express their understanding of family relationships.
Word processing programs are implemented to produce the final text,
which is then incorporated into a bilingual class picture book
enhanced with watercolor illustrations.
The program participants were twenty eighth grade ESL learners at
the intermediate level. This program can be adapted to any grade
and used with large or small groups.
Nikoleta Moulinos has been an ELL/ESL teacher in the New York City
public school system for four years. Prior to that, she taught at the
elementary level for four years at a private institution. Along with
participating in district and in-house workshops, she has met with
various staff developers, enhancing her teaching skills in order to
meet the needs of her students.
WHAT YOU NEED
A number of texts are used in this program. An overhead projector
and transparencies are needed, along with art supplies including
sketchbooks, watercolors, brushes, paper, and poster board. Computers with software programs
such as ClarisWorks or Microsoft Word are necessary for publishing.
Colorful Family Memories shows students that they have a story to tell.
In addition to meeting the language arts/ESL standards, students
develop self-expression skills and an awareness of themselves as
writers. They listen to, read, and extract meaning from stories, and
produce guided, original pieces based on their experiences and
ideas while developing skills that include responding to text;
understanding main ideas and details; and drafting, editing, and
publishing. They use language reflecting an understanding of
conventions through activities in listening, speaking, reading, and
writing; read books on the same theme; and create and publish
narrative stories and illustrations. As writers, they have an opportunity
to express what they know, giving their ideas value and power.