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Last school year, I posted What Happens In A Typical Day During My ELL Newcomers Class.  That piece described in detail what happened in my then one-period Newcomers class.

Fortunately, this year I’m able to teach a double period class.  Over the summer, I published My Tentative Plans For A Two-Period ELL Newcomers Class Next School Year.

I’ve refined those plans during these first months of the school year, and have thirty-three Newcomers and eighteen peer tutors (the Newcomers are in both periods, while nine peer tutors are in each one – each peer tutor is permanently assigned to certain students).  Fortunately, I have two adjacent classrooms, and am able to teach my Newcomers class in one, while I teach my other three periods of IB Theory of Knowledge in the other.  This allows me to keep the Newcomer room permanently set-up in small “pods” of three-to-four desks each, and each student and peer tutor has a marked basket where they keep materials.  So, no time is lost distributing books/papers or setting up desks.


1.Students start the day by sitting at their pods and working with peer tutors on their leveled True Stories books. Students receive either an A or an F grade depending on if they are sitting at their desks with their books open (though I don’t really keep track – some students were not being very diligent about getting to work on time, and doing this fixed that problem immediately).

Twice a week, a student teacher takes about half the class to the other room to work on English For Everyone books.  Anyone can join that group, but they have to agree to do (a little) homework.  On those days, the students who choose to not be part of that group work with peer tutors on National Geo “Inside Phonics” books.

Things start off slightly differently on Mondays, when students have to first complete a multilingual online Google Forms check-in and respond to a weekly Dialogue Journal our class does with the advanced ELL class.

Things are very different, however, on Fridays, when we always start off with a formative assessment – a test – on what vocabulary and grammar we covered during the week.  It consists of twenty questions, include one short writing exercise.   Peer tutors immediately score the tests, and each month I conference with students on a visualization of their results. After they complete the test, students work on either Quill, or Quizizz/Blooket games reinforcing our grammar lessons.

2. Next, we move on to the thematic focus of that week. It generally is a Picture Word Inductive Model, a text data set, or a related unit in the Inside The USA textbook, or preparing and then presenting a related Google slideshow.  These presentations happen weekly, and I give students a simple written outline they complete first (except for working on Quill on Fridays, games, and these presentations, none of our work is online).  For example, when we were studying food, they needed to make a presentation on their favorite meal.  After their slideshow is complete, we do a round robin presentation with one person moving from group to group, and everyone making the same presentation several times.

Also, every Wednesday peer tutors do a practice test with students to help them prepare for Friday’s “real” one.

3. We’ll end the class with a game or two of Quizizz or Blooket reinforcing the theme of the week.



1. This period always begins with students practicing conversation with their peer tutors. Every few months students are given different packets with sentence starters. If you look at the websites of some of my books, you can download some, and we’ll have a bunch of these in the second edition of the ELL Teacher’s Toolbox next year.

Twice-a-week, though, “pods” can choose to read a book together instead of practicing conversations.

2. The next activity in second period varies, but is typically one of these:

  • A grammar lesson from the National Geo textbook
  • A short funny dialogue that students first perform for another “pod,” and then some perform in front of the class
  • An activity where students in each pod choose a page they want to learn from the Oxford English dictionary and their peer tutor helps them learn it.
  • A jigsaw or “strip story” (a sequencing activity where students have to put several students in the correct order) related to the theme we’re study.

3. We’ll typically end the class with a Quizizz or Blooket game on the grammar concept we’re studying or a FluentKey video on the theme, which is a great listening exercise.  I post the games in Google Classroom, and students who complete the grammar activities early have the option of either going to Quill or replaying the games.

Again, Fridays tend to be substantially different – after conversation practice we’ll generally play a very energetic game (like Messenger and Scribe) that reinforces what we’ve been learning.


Obviously, not every day or week goes exactly according to this plan.  But they generally do, and it seems to work.   Of course, like all Newcomers classes, I regularly get new students coming – sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly, and sometimes, like this past week, daily.  Fortunately, I work with an extraordinarily competent bilingual aide, and she works in a “pod” with them to get them caught up until they’re ready to join a group that is doing all the regular activities.  Until that time, they don’t always do what everyone else is doing.

All feedback is welcome!


You might also be interested in Eight Ways We Are “Accelerating Learning” For Our ELL Newcomers This Year.