I’ve begun reposting the best posts from the first half of this year.  You can see all my best posts from the past fifteen years here.


geralt / Pixabay


This year is the first time in seventeen years I am not an official collaborating teacher for a student teacher – it was just going to be a “bridge too far” for me with everything else I’m juggling.

However, we require all student teachers at our school to also work in our English Language Development (the name used for ELL-only classes in California) classes. This generally means they do tutoring and generally just help me out.

As all ELL teachers know, we tend to get new students all the time – and especially starting around now.

Because of this influx, and because one of the Social Science student teachers seems to be especially good (and since he’s been helping/observing me since the school year began), we’ve decided to have him work with a small group of recently-arrived ELLs and teach them US History in the adjoining room to my “suite.”  This is happening at the same time I am teaching US History to a very large class.  Since I have quite a few peer tutors, and since they work with small groups of my students in the same room, I can easily look in on them periodically.

It’s set up so that he doesn’t have to do any prep out of class, and is using our same textbook.

Here are some simple instructions I provided to him to get started:

Remember that you are not teaching US History. Instead, you are teaching English, and using US History as a vehicle by which to teach it.

Here is a suggestion of a routine to follow:

1. You read aloud the first page of the chapter and ask them to look at the words as you read them, and have students write a summary and share.

2. Have them also make a list in their notebook of words on the page that are new to them. Have them write the definition of that work in their home language.

3. Have them each try writing a new sentence using one of those new words on a whiteboard to show that they truly understand the word.

4. Follow that process for each page, EXCEPT for having them periodically read aloud a sentence or two instead of you.

5. At the end of a chapter you dictate some sentences to them to write on a whiteboard without their looking at the book.

6. Have each of them each try dictating a sentence to the others.

7. End each chapter (or class period) by showing a Brainpop Jr. video connected to the content, followed by doing the quiz as a game and keeping score of who is getting which ones correct, with the winner getting a prize AND/OR ask the comprehension questions at the end of each chapter instead of a Brainpop movie.

Interspersed in this, of course, you continue to do what you’re doing by showing maps and images to help their comprehension.

So far, it’s been going well.  As the student teacher gets more comfortable, we’ll have him begin using other instructional strategies and materials.  But, it’s a start…