(I’m republishing my favorite posts from the second half of 2023. You can see them all here)


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I’ve been writing a lot about my ELL Newcomers class from this past school year, and ideas for the next one when I’ll have them for two periods.

This should be my last post about it for awhile, but I wanted to put something down on paper before my mind completely decompresses from school.

You can see my previous posts at THE BEST RESOURCES TO HELP EDUCATORS TEACH ELL NEWCOMERS and just scroll to the bottom.

Here’s what I’m thinking, and please feel free to share suggestions on how I can make it better!

Obviously, this is a guide, and I don’t plan on following it rigidly.


First Period

* First fifteen minutes: Small leveled (by English proficiency) groups led by peer tutors using the “True Stories” books and others that are similar to them (maybe alternate with some other “consumable” workbooks).  During the first few days, we’ll do this as a full class using one of the first books in the series so I can model the process for peer tutors, which will including going through the text and exercises, and then using mini-whiteboards for dictation.

Eventually, I plan to have “special” groups comprised of students who commit themselves to doing academic work at home.  They’ll have a special workbook, and will review their work as part of their leveled small groups.  In my past experience, more and more students want to join this special group – it’s been the most effective strategy I’ve seen to get students to practice English outside of class.

I should also note that, typically, for the first two-to-four weeks (depending on the English-proficiency of the students) I do Total Physical Response to begin the class, and then peer tutors practice it with their groups.  Only then do we move into the small book groups.

I should also note that every Friday I typically have students take a test for formative assessment purposes.

* The Picture Word Inductive Model, following a thematic sequence. It would entail a short lesson by me, followed by students working in small groups with peer tutors, often followed by a game (either online or with mini-whiteboards) reinforcing the thematic vocabulary.

*Additional activity reinforcing the theme, either through use of the “Inside The USA” textbook, preparing and presenting slideshow presentations,  focusing on related community problems though the Freirean Learning Sequence or project-based learning.


Second Period

*First fifteen minutes: Small leveled (by English proficiency) groups led by peer tutors practicing oral conversation.

*Grammar instruction and practice, followed by reinforcing games ( THE THREE-LEGGED STRATEGY I’M USING TO TEACHING GRAMMAR IN MY ELL NEWCOMERS CLASS – HELP ME IMPROVE IT!).

*Language Experience Approach, Jigsaw, or sequencing activity related to the theme we are studying.

*Periodic online work using these sites: any of the new AI-powered sites for ELLs (Speakable or ReadM), QuillEpic!Learning ChocolateLingoHut, or Duolingo

Note: Depending on time constraints, I might alternate these last two kinds of activities.


Okay, let me know what I’m missing!