This is the second in a series on my typical classroom days.

The first one was What Happens In A Typical Day During My ELL U.S. History Class.

Today, it’s time to talk about my ELL Newcomers class!

Newcomers classes can be challenging, not least of all because of the constant influx of new students throughout the entire school year.  However, this year has been tons better than previous years because now there’s an Intermediate English class I can send students to (well, I could, at least, until recently when it became full).  I have had to teach combined large classes of Newcomers and Intermediates simultaneously for many years, but it’s so much calmer now (though it might still look like organized chaos to the outside observer).

Here’s how my typical class goes:

1.Peer tutors (see THE BEST RESOURCES ON PEER TUTORS) distribute folders, notebooks and, sometimes, the National Geographic Edge grammar book or “Inside The USA” textbook to students.  As students get their folders, most take them and go into leveled peer tutor led groups (between two-and-four students in each group) using “True Stories” books (see THE “TRUE STORIES” BOOK SERIES IS AN EXTRAORDINARY MATCH FOR MY ELL NEWCOMERS CLASSROOM – DO YOU KNOW OF OTHER SIMILAR TITLES?). They work in their groups for ten-to-twelve minutes.  Mid-way through that time, I remind tutors to start using mini-whiteboards so that they can dictate some of the text they’ve been using for students to write down for practice.  While these small groups are going on, another peer tutor is distributing the whiteboards, markers and erasers, as well as texting to all tutors an image of a slide describing the classroom plans for that day.

2. All students return to learn about the next activity.  Two-or-three times a week, I just announce that it’s time for Oral Practice.  In their notebooks, they have glued hundreds of conversational starters and “fill-in-the-blank” frames for responses.  On those days, students work in peer tutor groups practicing ones of their choice for eight-to-ten minutes.

On the days we do this Oral Practice, I’ll call students back after a few minutes to introduce the next activity.  When we don’t do Oral Practice, I introduce the next activity immediately after the “True Stories” groups are done.

Generally, I briefly introduce an activity that the peer tutors will lead for about fifteen-or-twenty minutes, and they are focused on the theme we are studying during that week or during that two week period (see Here’s The Thematic Schedule I’m Using In My ELL Beginner’s Class). It might be the Picture Word Inductive Model, a sequencing activity, an activity from the Inside The USA book, or doing some writing using a frame.  About once a week students spend a longer time period practicing and performing short humorous dialogues (related to the theme) that they will perform to another small group and then some do it in front of the entire class with a mike.

3. Next, the class comes back together and I’ll give a brief grammar lesson. Generally, it’s connected to the Edge grammar book.  They’ll then go back into their peer tutor-led groups for ten minutes or so to complete the exercises in the book connected to the lesson.

4. We finish up the class with some games from Quizizz, Kahoot or Blooket that are either related to the theme or grammar topic we’re studying.

There are some exceptions to this routine:

    • During the week, a peer tutor periodically pulls students outside for a minute so they can do a recording of something they wrote or drew.  The tutor uses the Adobe Spark app on my phone (now called Adobe Express), and I usually play them to the class every Friday.
    • Every Friday, students immediately take a test instead of going to their “True Stories” groups.  After going over the answers, we’ll then typically spend the rest of the day with students doing Quill on their laptops while I have individual meetings with them, playing games and show their Adobe Spark videos.  So the four-“chapter” routine I shared only applies to Monday-through-Thursday.
    • Once-a-week, students work on Dialogue Journals. Students work on them during their Support classes taught by other teachers, but I provide the weekly prompts (“What are things that teachers do that help you learn the best?”) and they correspond with a “pen pal” from the twelfth-grade ELL English class.

Like in my ELL US History class, this routine seems to work well, and receives high-marks from students in weekly anonymous check-ins.  Our district is supposed to be doing an evaluation on how well our peer tutor system is doing (in this class and in the US History class), similar to the evaluation process we used to measure the success of our efforts to support Long-Term English Language Learners. I hope they will actually do it…

You might also be interested in Here’s A Slide Deck I Used To Talk About ELLs & Accelerated Learning.


Next up in this series will be “What Happens In A Typical Day During My IB Theory of Knowledge Class.”