Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Smiles and Butterflies

A message by Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy

Authors in the Classroom
Our Goals

Setting goals in our personal and professional lives allows us to have a better understanding of the value of time and to enjoy our accomplishments. Students at any age can set their goals and work toward achieving them.

Share with the students your personal goals in life. Share what your goals for your students are as a teacher. Invite them to discuss their own personal goals. Then each student can write:

A two-part book called My Goals. Part One states their goals; Part Two explains how they plan to achieve them.
A creative newspaper article, published some years from now, celebrating one of their achievements as an adult.
An imaginary letter from their parents celebrating their success in college.
For the theory that informs this practice, and multiple examples, see Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Authors in the Classroom: A Transformative Education Experience. [Allyn & Bacon]

Cultural Enrichment

Within the Spanish-speaking world, there are many pivotal figures whose lives can be valuable examples to share with young readers. Writing the book Smiles (Sonrisas) has given us the opportunity to bring into children's awareness the efforts of a Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, who discovered how yellow fever is transmitted.

Our biography marks the importance of Finlay's discovery in the context of the building of the Panama Canal. The encounter of Finlay and Walter Reed, who publicized Finlay's discovery, benefited the world forever. Although Carlos Finlay's merits have not been given due recognition and, for many, he is still an unknown scientist, he should be a source of pride for all Spanish-speakers.

Books, CDs, & Videos

In the Condor's Wings / En alas del cóndor
The original people of Latin America responded to the striking landscapes, learned from nature, overcame obstacles, admired the world around them, and found ways to create additional beauty and to help nature to be more helpful to them. They created food sources for all humanity.
Invite students to research and share where their ancestors came from.
Ask them to dialogue about the content of the book, identifying what they admire most about what they have read.

I Love Saturdays y domingos /
Me encantan los Saturdays y domingos
The protagonist of this book has a set of English-speaking grandparents and a set of Spanish-speaking grandparents. She feels equally comfortable with all of them and with her two languages.

Invite students to try the following:
Repeat the few phrases and nouns in Spanish included in the English edition of this book, or vice versa.
Guess from the context the meaning of these words and phrases.
Make a list of reasons why knowing two languages is beneficial, giving specific examples. Encourage them to make the list as exhaustive and diverse as possible.

CD -- Do, Re, Mi, ¡Sí, si! / Música amiga 8
The 12 songs on this CD combine whimsical traditional rhymes like "El señor Don Gato"; tender lullabies like "A dormir"; and original poems by Isabel Campoy ("El lápiz de Guillermo" and "Ramón y su perro") and by Alma Flor Ada ("Oficios" and "La lluvia") -- all in the extraordinary voice of Suni Paz, who created the music for the original poems.

Memorizing songs enriches students' vocabulary and syntactic repertoire, preparing them to be better readers.

Invite them to do the following:
Select their favorite songs to sing in small groups.
Improvise instruments to accompany their voices.
Create a program they can sing in other classes or for the whole school.

Explore With Us

Books and CDs by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy can be obtained from

Visit and and send Alma Flor and Isabel your comments on their books, CDs, and DVDs.

Learn more about enriching the lives of your students through a wealth of books by visiting


Alma Flor Ada said...

Thanks so much for posting our newsletter Smiles and Butterflies on your blog.
La Bloga certainly is a wonderful resource for all the Latino community.
Best wishes to everyone who make this blog possible and to all its readers. Fondly Alma Flor Ada

Rene Colato Lainez said...

De nada Alma.

Your work is amazing.