MORE Favorite Resources for Teaching English Learners!

When I was a brand new teacher, I thought the quality of my teaching was ultimately tied to the quality of my resources, so I spent hours searching for great materials. I believed that if I had quality resources, ones that my students enjoyed and were engaged with, then that would make me a good teacher. Well, I still believe that having quality resources is extremely important, but over the years I've also come to realize that being a good teacher is SO much more than the tools in my toolbox. Everyday has a million moving parts that need our constant attention, focus, knowledge and skills of best practice. So even though I now believe that being a good teacher is more than the quality of my teaching materials, knowing that I have a good variety of  kid tested and teacher approved resources at my fingertips allows me the time and energy to focus on other aspects of my teaching day.

So today, as a follow-up to my original "favorite resources" post,  I want to share with you MORE of my "go-to" resources that I consistently use in my classroom with my students!

Build a Sentence 

I love this resource, and so do my students! This resource gets beginning and intermediate ELs speaking and writing!

First, a photograph is posted. Then students generate a word bank by telling what they see in the picture. I ask for one word at a time. No matter the level of my ELs, everyone can come up with at least a word or two. I get additional details by asking about colors and quantities of items they see. Once our word bank is sufficient, they use those words to create varying lengths of sentences. They are asked to create a 3 word sentence, then a four word sentence, then a five word sentence, and so on. I'll ask, "Who thinks they can come up with a 4 word sentence?" My students all start thinking and counting on their fingers, then quickly a hand shoots up, then another. They love it! 

This activity is heavily scaffolded for beginners. Students orally create the word bank and sentences, but I write the words and sentences on the board using correct spelling and grammar. Then they copy. I am a big believer in modeling for beginners, and I model a LOT!

This activity is a definite favorite among my students. They practice their oral language skills as well as their writing skills. I do this with my small groups at least once a month.

Writing with English Learners

I created this resource to prep my students for the writing portion of the annual language proficiency assessment. In Virginia, where I'm from, ESL students take the WIDA ACCESS each winter. Being that writing is the literacy skill that usually takes the longest to develop, I wanted to explicitly teach the skills students needed to be most successful on this assessment.

Writing with ELs in Primary Grades

Writing with ELs in Primary Grades

In my lesson plans, I incorporate a listening, reading, speaking and writing focus each week. For the writing focus, I usually pull from these two resources. Whether I am teaching how to stretch out words, write a story, explain a process or analyze information, this resource allows me to choose the skills my particular groups need to work on.

Writing with English Learners

For my intermediate and advanced ELs in grades 3-6, I focus on "language formats" found in writing. Whether they are asked to describe, provide an opinion, analyze or compare and contrast, understanding and applying the language with that format is key.
Writing with English Learners

5 Ws and H - A Writing Resource for Adding Details

This resource is a new favorite! It teaches students to add meaningful details to their sentences. I often ask students to "tell me more." This writing activity gets them in the habit of giving more information in their sentences by adding thoughtful details. 

5 Ws and H, Adding Details to Sentences

This resource is designed for gradual release. The first set of activities can be done in a whole group setting. A photograph is projected and students are asked to answer the 5W & H questions about the picture. This information is then used to write two thoughtful sentences. As students become more proficient with adding details to their sentences, the next set of activities can be done in either a small group setting or as an independent activity. The last set of activities are writing prompts that students can independently respond to in their notebooks. Posters are included which add a great visual reference for a classroom display.

Restate the Question

This is a simple, yet effective, activity that teaches students to restate the question or prompt in their answers, both orally and in writing.

As a writing activity, either project a prompt on the whiteboard and have students write their responses in their notebooks, or print out the question and have them glue it into their notebook. This takes modeling the first several times, but afterwards should be a quick independent activity.

For a speaking activity, pull out a card and ask the question. Students take turns answering several of the questions. This works great in a small group setting. My students often ask if we can keep on "playing."  
Restate the Question or Prompt


Incorporating videos into my lessons is a MUST! When I plan a new unit, one of the first things I do is to scour the internet looking for fun and meaningful videos. My go to place is YouTube. There are some real gems out there, but it does take some looking. When I find a goody, it goes into my collection and I use it again and again. Here is a blog post that I wrote about using short films to teach reading comprehension skills. I continue to add to the list as I find new films. Click on the image to see the list!

Check out my Short Film Bundle here. 

Monthly Themed Vocabulary

This is an great resource to use with primary learners and beginning ELs. Each month contains 20 vocabulary words. I love this because it's relevant to what's happening around students at the given time of year. 
Monthly Themed Vocabulary and Activities
Along with the terms, which I use as a monthly word wall, matching cards, writing activities, a vocabulary booklet and BINGO games are included. 

In closing...

As I create my weekly lesson plans, these "tried and true" resources are many of the activities that my students use throughout the school year.  Having a collection of reliable and engaging materials available frees up the time I'd otherwise spend searching. I'm sure you have your go-to resources too.

Happy teaching!!

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