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Educator Spotlight Raquel Sosa-Gonzalez, Las Amricas Newcomer Middle School

I dont teach the subject, I teach the student, and that looks different day to day, class to class, and student to student. These words are the driving force behind Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalezs teaching practice. Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalez teaches 6-8th grade reading at Las Amricas Newcomer Middle School, in the heart of Houstons diverse Gulfton community. The students at Las Amricas, who represent over 32 countries and 22 languages, show up to Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalezs classroom with varying degrees of formal education and English proficiency ranging from pre-literate to transitioning. Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalez ensures these newcomers reach academic success by teaching appropriate lesson objectives that respond to their needs. Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalez utilizes a workstation model that directly addresses varying levels of English proficiency, background knowledge, comprehension skills, interest, and learning style. On any given day, there are five active workstations in her classroom, including stations for one-on-one time with her, literature/listening, independent reading, independent/group activity, and computer skills. Individual learning objectives and expectations are clearly visible at each station and are tied to an end-product. In the reading station, for example, each student begins by reading a text of their choice and then completes an independent reading log (with a rubric) or a book review assignment. Making expectations clear allows students to show evidence of the concepts mastered, of those needing improvement, and of work completed. Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalez can also take advantage of the one-on-one time to more closely assess each students learning. I think about ways that they can demonstrate what they have learnedI always ask, How did you get that answer, what was your thought process? explains Ms. Sosa-Gonzalez. This allows her to ensure that her expectations and objectives are clear and accurate. Our hats are off to Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalez for navigating the complexities of differentiation in order to serve her students. Through research, practice and reflection, Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalez created and continues to sustain a classroom environment that enables every child to experience academic success. She encourages other teachers to start with baby steps and to experiment with differentiation strategies in their classrooms. Click here to view pictures and tips for the stations from Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalezs classroom >

Mrs. Sosa-Gonzalez is one of many HISD teachers being featured in the HISD Video Exemplars Project. The HISD Video Exemplars will be a resource that supports the needs of teachers through providing specific visual examples that exemplify best practices from HISD classrooms connected to the Instructional Practice rubric. Ten elementary and ten secondary videos will be available on the new PSD website and will roll-out this spring.