Thursday, August 6, 2009

Welcome to the ESL Cafe! Part I

This summer 2009, I went to the beach for vacation with my 2 long time friends, rode roller coaster rides, rode fair rides and enjoyed tons of funnel cakes! I also did a lot of pool time and bonding time with my girls here in Columbus. I enjoyed late nights, indie movies, summer reading with bowls of popcorn! :) I shopped at farmer markets, did tons of scrapbooking and journaling. Did a lot of Dance Jam at Lifetime Fitness, and went on long, inspirational walks. I feel a very positive balance and feel very thankful and blessed for these restful weeks.

Now, after a restful vacation, I'm starting to think about the school year ahead of me. The way my mind works, I figured out, is that I am always constantly on search for "something". Sometimes I am looking for inspiration and ideas.Other times, I am completely immersed in the world of books and thinking of its endless potential in my classroom. Other times, I need visual stimulation in order for my creative mind to emerge, I go on walks to Short North and visit boutiques, bookstores, cafes to "see" how things are displayed, portrayed, organized. That is just how my mind works. And honestly, I love it. One lazy afternoon this summer I was telling a friend about this special place in Asuncion, Paraguay called Cafe Literario, which means, Literary Cafe. That place holds special memories for me. I spent lots of mornings, evening, or nights totally diving into books. I finished tons of books there while sipping my cafecito. One thing you ought to know is that sadly, in Paraguay books are very expensive and teachers don't really make that much money. I couldn't really afford to buy books as often as I would like. As a matter of fact, I came to the United States with three books in my suitcase. The idea of Cafe Literario was for people to go and read books in there. You could order a cup of coffee, a soda, or juice. The place was inexpensive so I spent numerous days of my years in Paraguay reading there.

After I explained to my friend about Cafe Literario, I realized that I would LOVE to recreate the concept of that place in my classroom. A place where children go to read for fun, relax, disconnect, and be themselves. So, inspired on my favorite place in Asuncion, Cafe Literario, I am turning my classroom into the International ESL Cafe at Beechwood Elementary. I'm seriously very excited about this and what the concept could represent not only for my students but for the families as well. The changes are not HUGE changes but rather small and subtle but
that I'm hoping it would have some impact. Here is what the International ESL Cafe will be all about..

1. an inviting place to do some quiet reading (and other great learning!) where parents, teachers and students are welcome.
2. a place where you will find lots of books in Spanish and in English
3. a place where families can check out family fun board games for 2 or 3 nights.
4. a place that will hold seasonal poetry nights
5. a cozy, environment where memories are being created everyday

Now, in order to recreate that fond memory I have o
f my dear Cafe Literario in Asuncion these are the little changes I made in the classroom:
1. inviting cafe tables..
2. lamps and a couple of cozy friends for the little ones
3. plants...lots of green inside
4. lights (lamps in different corners)
5. A "Weekly Special" display right at the entrance of my classroom featuring the book recommendation for the book

So what do you think? Like I said, there are not HUGE changes in my classroom environment but rather little ones to recreate that cafe environment. Now, I would love to work on growin
g my selection of books for adults in Spanish so our dear ESL families can check out book as well. Any suggestions of how to go about it? Remember, we are teachers, our budgets are limited! But I love bargains and donations too, of course. :)

The classroom is a work in progress right now but I'll give you a sneak peak of what I am working on and was able to get accomplished in the last couple of days.

I am using a lot of chalk writing around the room because I notice lots of coffee shops has chalk writing displays. I used that fabulous chalkboard paint to paint those little wooden tags and just used chalk to labels some of those baskets of books.

I had fun playing with the "tablecloth look" for the room and the checkered ones are definitely my favorite.
Yes, those are candles. But don't worry I found these little flameless candles at Target in the clearance section. Loved them. I would mainly used those for our seasonal poetry reading evenings.

Like I have said before, this is still a work in progress. You'll see more in the upcoming weeks as I put the ESL Cafe together. I can't wait for our journey to begin.


Franki said...

WOW! What a great place! I want to come be part of it all. Your kids are going to love the space that you've created for them!

Mrs. V said...

How exciting. It will be fun to see how the idea evolves. Great idea. I especially love that you are not only creating the environment for your specific students, but for their families as well.

Saii said...

what a great idea!!!!!!


it looks so nice!

cuentanos como lo toman los niños y los padres! apuesto que les encantara!


Mary Lee said...

LOVELY! That's where I want to learn!

debnance said...

Fun! Divertivo! Stealing, stealing, stealing...please forgive me....

Karen said...

You've done an amazing thing here -- I want to come and read in this environment. Your students and parents will hopefully find much benefit as well.

p.s. Loved your choice literacy piece!!

LiteracyTeacher said...

I never thought of using flameless candles in that way. It's excellent! What a fantastic idea. :)

Christian Long said...

Very impressed. You've approached this re-design of the traditional classroom space with a lot of playfulness, sincerity, and strategic teaching intention. Well done!

I used to do similar things in my own classroom, so much so that my students would walk in and ask, "Are we in the office or the apartment today?" (and similar phrases to indicate which spaces would support which learning objectives on any given day).

By transforming space, we can subtly (and overtly) re-direct behavior and creativity and curiosity and wonder and work and collaboration and so much more. You're on a great path here!