L.A. Community Sites teacher Romina Bonilla shares how expressive arts therapy impacts her students.
Hardworking English Language Learners (ELLs) choose to courageously DREAM ON and work to reach aspirations such as reaching English fluency, even while family, friends, and neighbors roll their eyes back and sarcastically tell them, DREAM ON!
Five Keys in South Los Angeles’ Weber Community Center has partnered with HOPICS, an on-site housing and behavioral health resource center, to provide English language learners (ELLs) with an opportunity to participate in expressive arts therapy. Rather than the traditional form of mental and emotional healing through verbal discussions, expressive arts therapy focuses on the process of restoring psychological well-being through participation in hands-on art projects. Creativity becomes the pathway to exploring inner emotions and realizing self-discovery, as well as means of coping. But besides these sessions being therapeutic, they are also simply a fun release for adult students. Life is often so demanding that adults forget to practice self-care and take part in activities purely because it brings pleasure and joy.
ELL students explored and reflected on various aspects of their persona by creating hand-painted masks—the back of the mask represented their holistic true selves while the front of the mask symbolized the area of themselves they share with the world. They discussed their inabilities to express exactly how they feel. They pondered who they were as whole individuals. They spoke about who they pretend to be and taking part in social code-switching simply to meet societal and cultural expectations and avoid vulnerability and shame. “I don't tell anyone I come to ESL class because they ridicule me. They tell me I’m wasting my time because I’m too old. This side of me stays hidden. When people ask what I’m doing during the time my class takes place, I lie. I say I’m busy doing something more domesticated like cleaning or something. Silence brings me peace.” Through the process of their creations they became unmasked themselves.
A special thank you to the two wonderful people facilitating the art therapy--
Mayra Rivas and Syeda Jaffery
The Artists’ Reaction to Expressive Arts Therapy
“I liked working alongside my classmates. Time always flies when I’m in school, probably because I feel so comfortable with the therapists and my teacher.”
“I learned to express my feelings through creativity. I took pleasure in all the projects that included coloring especially. I gained a heart with less pain.”
“The mask project allowed me to become more aware. It taught me that other people see me differently than I see myself. I got to know myself better.”
“Painting reminds me of my childhood—like painting and coloring in elementary school. I used to own a beauty salon in Mexico. I did women’s make up. These mask-making sessions reminded me of when I used to do make-up. I loved it!”
“Expressive arts therapy made me forget about my problems and I felt at ease. It was all just beautiful to me.”
“Sometimes I arrive at school with a bad mood on my face and in my heart. Then, a few minutes after class begins, I listen and pay attention to the different topics we discuss and it really motivates me to use everything we learn in class, outside—from the grammar to everyday life topics. I save in my memory all the most powerful words of advice I hear and they make me feel like I can handle anything the world throws at me!”
“I really enjoyed the sessions. It was nice listening to others say that they go through similar things as me. I’m not alone.”
“I felt fortunate to be able to express my emotions. It has truly helped me reflect on my feelings.”
Interviews conducted by Ms. Q, Academic Committee Representative for South County CTE
The teachers in the Downtown Los Angeles jails, Men's Central and Twin Towers, are doing amazing work. In some of the harshest conditions in the county, the teachers bring their enthusiasm, knowledge and support in to their students and every day. Offering CTE and Life Skills courses, Five Keys students are given an opportunity to transform their habits and perspectives through the guidance of their instructors. Often teaching inside dorms, or otherwise sharing multipurpose spaces, the team of teachers transform any space they are in to one of learning and reflection.
In this Feature Teacher article we have two interviews with this transformative team conducted by Ms. Q, also a teacher. Read on to get to know your colleagues Ms. Jen and George Spotville!
4. What are you most likely to become famous for?
“…Truthfully, I would love to be regarded as one of the many strong, educated advocates in the fields of mental health and substance use disorders within my community, moreover, I would be immensely humbled to be viewed as an empowering force for positive change and advocacy among my students…in their daily struggles with various afflictions from trauma, diagnosed mental health disorders, untreated substance use disorders, illiteracy or English language comprehension issues. “
5. What advice would you give a teacher who wants to practice more self-care?
“Spoil yourself regularly. Find something you love that takes you outside of your head and make it a priority during the week. Personally, I love hikes, boxing, massages, dinners with friends and family, weekend excursions for mountain time, and I’ve learned to not sacrifice my “Jen Time” for anything or anyone else. When I’m doing good emotionally and mentally, everyone benefits, especially my students...”
1) Name/Title: George Spotville, Life Skills Instructor
2) What is the best advice that you have received as a teacher?
“The best advice I have received from a family member.... She simply said…take your job seriously, prepare and take your charge seriously, because you have the power to make a difference in student’s lives.”
3) What is your inspiration for teaching?
“My inspiration for teaching lies in the fact that I get the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Teachers can single handedly make a difference and give back by sowing into others to spark…a paradigm shift in thinking.”
4) What are you most likely to become famous for?
“I am most likely going to become famous for working in the communities to make a difference in empowering others to be the change, and becoming self-reliant, and empowering one another economically and educationally. “
5) What advice would you give a teacher who wants to practice more self-care?
“Take time for yourself, make sure to set aside time to do you. Take the time to spend with family and friends, or simply just be alone with you and whatever pleasures you, reading, getting away to the lake to fish, just that time you need to make you happy.”
*Answers have been shorten for brevity
by BITE staff
A new school year means new teacher representatives for the Academic Committee! This year we have expanded the number of teacher representatives on the Committee, aiming for a more balanced representation of teacher perspectives. CTE and ESL positions were specifically recruited to add to the academic in-custody and community programs that were represented last year.
Read on to meet your reps!
Micah Young launches our first Five Keys Virtual Course!
SoCal ESL Teachers host an esl recognition ceremony!
From left to right: G. Rodriguez is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award; Writing Contest winners S. Gonzalez, M. Soto, and C. Perez; Ms. Mayra's ESL class
“The English language is as necessary as turning on a spotlight in a dark room to see.”
This is the beautifully accurate perspective of an advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) learner at South Los Angeles’ Weber Community Center, in regards to the essentiality of reading, writing, and speaking English in Los Angeles. Five Keys’ ESL students see school as a privilege; an opportunity to advance personally, socially, and financially, not as a mandatory chore. This praiseworthy point of view shookl.uld be applauded! And that it was—at an ESL Recognition Ceremony, held at Hub Cities Community Site on Friday, May 25th, 2018.
Three teachers collaborated and diligently planned for this special day to be a success, Mayra Martinez, Veronica Castillo, and Romina Bonilla. More than 70 students and their family members filled the room, as they interacted with one another over a continental breakfast donated by a generous partner program called El Nido. All ESL learners were awarded a participation certificate, while others also earned Excellent Attendance certificates, and/or certificates of Academic Excellence. And finally, Guadalupe Rodriguez, the wisest student in our entire LA ESL Program, at almost 85 years of age, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award to celebrate her model citizen character and her active involvement in her education, as well as in her community.
Students also participated in a writing contest. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners were acknowledged during the ceremony. Congratulations to Hub Cities’ Socorro Gonzalez and Weber’s Maria Soto and Claudia Perez for working so carefully on their winning writing submissions!
And finally, several students volunteered to go up to the podium and give short speeches, thanking teachers and classmates, as well as sharing why coming to class is so important for them. At the conclusion of student speeches, the wonderful singing voices of Veronica Castillo’s beginning ESL class filled the room, as they performed the grand finale of the event, singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. There was a projector set up with the lyrics to the song so that the entire audience was able to join in and sing! It was obvious that they put in a lot of practice time because they did a fabulous job!
Teachers and students alike, are excited and look forward to another, bigger and better ESL Recognition Ceremony, likely taking place next year, in the spring of 2019, where it is hoped that all of the community sites’ ESL team will join in to celebrate our students’ achievements.
Contributed by Romina Bonilla
Left to right: Ms. Veronica's class leads the audience in singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"; Ms. Mayra greets the 70+ guests
Raul Fernandez brings music lessons into the ISP Classroom
Raul Fernandez is currently an ISP teacher at Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. He has also taught in site-based, hybrid, and bilingual classrooms at PDC.
Some challenges that ISP teachers face when trying to incorporate small group instruction/activities are finding the time to incorporate lessons amidst the other responsibilities they must take care of during class time, coming up with/selecting the curriculum to teach, and the lack of time for small group lesson prep on top of grading time.
In this video, Raul shares some ways he has addressed these challenges:
Some benefits he has seen as a result of his efforts:
Watch the video to see how his students are learning to play the recorder in an ISP classroom environment!
Classroom footage by CA Suchovsky; Editing and Production by Simeon Weinraub
3. Why do you think it's important to work with our student population?
I think it's important to work with our student population because I believe they are the ones who need and deserve a 2nd chance. These students have already been through the traditional educational process, and unfortunately it didn't work for them. So our Five Keys Schools and Program allows for this population of students to receive the diplomas and have the same opportunities as everyone else.
4. What do you like to do with your free time?
There are many things I like to do with my free time... I love to read and I love to write, but I think what I like most is spending quality time with family and friends. I recently went to a live theatre play/ musical with some friends, and it was so uplifting... loved every minute of it. I have a very big family and we have annual family reunions every summer in Southern California, and I think that's my all-time favorite thing to do... Playing games, eating delicious food, and enjoying the company of my family is the best...
5. What is one classroom management technique that you've picked up over the years that helps you in your current position?
One classroom management technique that I've picked up over the years that has helped me in my current position is probably my ability to create a safe and welcoming classroom environment. Not really sure if that's a management technique, but I feel it's extremely important to set up the classroom in a way that's welcoming, clean, organized and inspiring to those that walk in and/or want to enroll. I strive to make everyone feel welcome and encourage those who have been students for a while to keep going and stay motivated.
6. What is something you've learned working with Five Keys that you wish you'd known when you started?
Something that I've learned working with Five Keys, that I wish I would've known when I started is quality of being flexible. Here at this job, things are constantly changing at a very rapid pace, sometimes with very little or no notice at all. So I've learned to adapt and expect the unexpected. Sometimes change is a difficult thing, but since working here, I've learned to just accept things as they come and expect change on a daily basis.
7. How do you keep students motivated, keep their attendance regular and help them persist?
There are a few things that I do to keep students motivated, keep their attendance regular and help them to persist. The biggest thing is get to know my students personally. I make it a point to meet with every single student one-on-one on a weekly basis, and it helps me get to know them and show a genuine interest in them. I also send out texts and make personal phone calls to students if I don't see them coming to school. Another thing that I do is give them visual and weekly recognition for their accomplishments. I have a "Wall of Fame" in my classroom, and every student who earns a high school credit or passes a GED/HiSET test, gets a shiny smiley-face sticker next to their name. Everyone who walks in my classroom will see all of their accomplishments by looking at the Wall. In addition, I have a wall of "GRADS', and this wall showcases a picture of all of our graduates in their caps and gowns... a very motivating visual that's encouraging and helps student persist in their studies.
8. How did you get so many students to sign up for the CAASPP workshops?
I did a few things to get a large turn-out for our CAASPP workshops... I shared information about the workshop weeks in advance to all of my students. I passed out flyers, highlighted the incentives of free lunch provided, the fun raffle prizes given away, and the opportunities to earn multiple credits by doing one project-based activity. I also sent out text messages the day before the workshops as a reminder. All of these things helped with the successful turn-outs at the CAASPP workshops.
9. How do you integrate technology into the classroom?
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I feel like I do not incorporate technology in my classroom enough. We currently have two computers in the classroom, but they are primarily used for GED practice tests. Occasionally, students will use them for PowerPoint presentations, or to type up an essay. But for the most part, students typically do assignments in their packets to earn credits for their high school diplomas.
10. What are your goals for your classroom, your students, yourself, etc?
One of my goals, has recently been met. It was to grow the Vallejo Community site attendance roster and get more and more students enrolled... Well have accomplished that, actually exceeded that, so much so that Five Keys has recently hired another teacher to come help me teach at this location. Ms. Simi Singh has been a wonderful addition to the site here, and I sincerely appreciate her help with our growing number of student enrollments.
Another goal of mine has also been recently met. It was/is to grow professionally in a leadership role. Recently I applied to be a Five Keys Mentor, and happily I accepted the job when it was offered to me. It has been a great experience so far. I appreciate all the training I've been given and I look forward to being an effective leader to my mentees!
Last but not least, I have goals for my students. One goal is to always encourage them to continue learning as much as they can. Even after they earn that high school diploma, GED or HiSET to continue learning. Learning a trade, attending a college, taking classes at an adult school, are just a few ways to continue learning. Education is something worth fighting for, and once someone has it, it can never be taken away.
la community sites esl team
ESL Teacher PD
By Marchelle Broussard
During the month of February the community ESL teachers in Southern California had the opportunity to meet for an ESL PD at the Weber site in Los Angeles. Each teacher presented her best practice and shared resources. Teachers shared ideas and resources that included hands-on activities that promote conversation, teaching strategies, and resources for reading, listening, writing, and speaking all in alignment with CASAS competencies promoting essential life and work skills for adults.
This month, the community and in-custody ESL teachers will participate in ESL Learning Tours! We look forward to seeing what will develop from this collaboration.
Scroll down to see some of their shared resources!
Download and print the game board templates below to make vocabulary development fun! Want to create your own video lesson? Download the Make Your Own Screencast instructions and start enhancing your ELL instruction today! To see an example of how this can be used, see Nicole Lopez's "Test Review" screencast, below.
koren eloul|Sustainable design project based learning at santa rita
Emory christian|Diversity and justice quilt making project
Yeni Zamora | A NEW SPIN ON AN OLD TOOL
HAYDEE BURROLA |Bringing Art to Students at the San Bernardino Probation Center
At the SB Probation Day Reporting Center (DRC), a probation officer led Five Keys students in an oil painting activity and provided all the supplies. Students will earn 0.25 Visual Art credit for creating their art piece and writing a refection. A big thank you to our teacher, Haydee Burrola, for organizing this activity and preparing the lesson!
Want to try this in your own classroom? Download the Form 1 and Reflection assignment here.
Description of the process: The art students completed the first packet of Visual Arts. All other participants learned basic blending techniques and brush strokes from the instructor that day and had no prior preparation. The class was led by a Probation Officer who is an avid painter, PO Shae Craddock. Each student was provided and easel, a canvas, three different size paint brushes, and four colors to work with. Officer Shae and I explained the steps and procedures for the activity to the students. She talked to them about correct ways to hold the paint brush and she demonstrated stroke styles and blending techniques. They enjoyed cookies, coffee, and tea while painting for our version of Paint and Sip. The following week after the activity, students made a thank you card for Officer Shae and presented it to her.
ALLY DE NATALE |ESL Class Community Planter Project
ASHLEN FIERROS | Implementing Calm Classroom in an ISP Setting
ACSO STAFF |Creating a Response to Intervention Team
Five Keys' Alameda County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) staff participated in a professional development day focused on classroom management, sustainability, and team-building. During the morning, staff worked to identify student behaviors, root causes, and how to meet students' needs. This process served as the start of a Response to Intervention team focused on student behavior and attendance, which promises to yield some positive changes in the next few months! The day was capped off with some friendly competition at the bowling alley. Congratulations to the top bowler, Lillian Santos-Stables, and to the winning team of Larry Burdick, Denise Copeland, and Tyler Small!