Ideas and resources for parents of ESL/ELL students
These reviewed resources offer information so share with parents of ESL/ELL students. Some are resources parents can use at home with children to reinforce language skills. Others include suggested activities ESL/ELL learners can begin in school and share with parents. Be sure to read the "In the Classroom" suggestions for ways these reviewed resources can build language skills both at home and at school.
Grades2 to 10
Be sure to turn off your pop-up blocker so you can "see" all the site content. Although the pronunciation is in British English, this is a great, high-content site. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomSave this site to your favorites so you (and your students) can easily find this site. Include this site on your teacher web page for students and parents to access as a reference and for engaging extra practice.
Grades4 to 12
Teachers can register for a teacher area to create assignments for classes, review the available lesson plans, or build your own, and save your favorites on your personal Monticello Classroom web page. Each class has its own log-in and password and students are able to submit their completed activities to the teacher for review.
In the ClassroomThis site can serve a a hub for your unit on colonial life, Jefferson, or even inventors. If you wish your students to register for accounts, be sure to check the students' acceptable use policies or get parent permission in writing. Instead of students using their real first and last names, have students create their own colonial names for registration. Be sure to keep a list of these names to be able to review and assess student work. Give a class introduction to the Monticello Classroom using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Be sure to help your weaker readers and ESL and ELL students by sharing the vocabulary words prior to reading, either on a handout or by projecting on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Highlight the vocabulary words in the text as you come to them. Search the lesson plans, and teachers will find a few that will be particularly helpful for Black History month!
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this page to listen to current events news in simple English. Play them on your speakers for an entire class or provide headphones for individual listening. Have the students try to write the main points of the podcast they listen to and then check their listening against the webpage with the original article. Special education teachers may want to use this resource as an adapted way for students to read and submit weekly current events articles. Mark this site as a favorite on your classroom computer so students can use it during their free time with headphones. Share the link on your teacher web pages for parents and students to access quickly from home, but be sure to suggest that parents of younger students monitor the topics for appropriateness.
Grades3 to 8
tag(s): tutorials (48)
In the ClassroomStart the activity by showing the student-produced videos on the web site. Use the resources on the site for a whole class jig-saw exercise. Assign small groups the task of learning one aspect of the process and then reporting and showing it to the rest of the class. Share the knowledge by creating working groups, which contain an expert from each aspect of the process. Use one of the many class ideas as practice activities for students to learn the finer points of video production before they start their masterpieces.
Video is a great tool for authentic assessment - especially for ESL, ELL, and Special Education students. Think about letting each of your students create a short video about what they know for their parent conference meeting or Open House. Explore the realm of possibilities by having students develop and ask peers a "Question of the Week" and document the responses on video. Let students produce a walking tour of the school and key personnel as an introduction for new students. Post this video on the school website, but check the district and students' Acceptable Use Policies before videoing any student faces. You may want to ask your school's funding sources to consider purchasing a few USB plug-in "flip" video cameras that cost about $100 each so students can do these projects with an "indestructible" tool.
GradesK to 4
In the ClassroomAsk students to dictate captions for these stories, write the captions on strips, and put them with the printed pictures. For students able to write, have them write their own captions. Have a caption-writing contest among pairs of students in the classroom. Have ESL and ELL students write simple captions and learn the words for items in the pictures at the same time. Students in foreign language classes can generate desciptions or dialog to go with the stories. Special ed teachers will appreciate the opportunity for students to "narrate" the comics -- and possibly place pages in sequence -- to develop vocabulary. Use printable versions for take-home work with parents, as well. Challenge students to create their own wordless books. Don't forget to check out the twelve lesson plans available at the
GradesK to 6
Caution: although you are able to use many of these items for free, most downloads ask that you input your email address. You can bypass this by clicking submit without inputting your email address. This website requires Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page. .
In the ClassroomThe books can be projected on an interactive whiteboard for students to highlight new vocabulary, signal words, etc. with their fingers then read independently. Tell your students' parents about this site to encourage them to read or download and print more stories for their children. Include the link in your class newsletter or on your website. Beginning readers, ELL, and ESL students will enjoy the wordless books whose stories they can tell themselves or tell in their own languages. Students may want to make up their own wordless picture books after seeing some of these examples.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomMark this site as a Favorite on your classroom computer or on your teacher web page and assign ESL/ELL students to check it weekly for a new idiomatic expression. Newer ESL and ELL students may find the translation feature helpful. The foreign language options could be useful in a German, French, Spanish, or Chinese class. Check your school policies on allowing students to participate in the forum area, and obtain written parent permission before students log on. You may want to use the forum as a whole-class activity with a teacher account. Monitor the discussion boards for a week or two before deciding if they are appropriate for your school situation.
Grades2 to 8
tag(s): listening (91)
In the ClassroomHave your students practice the language on this site in a simulated telephone conversation. Have them record the voice mail messages and then play them for other students to respond to. Share this site on your class website or in your class newsletter so ESL parents can benefit from understanding telephone conversation better, too. Teachers of world languages may wish to use this site as a model to create similar information for their students of French, German, Spanish, and other world languages. Special ed teachers working on life skills will find these phone skills helpful, as well.
Grades5 to 12
IMPORTANT NOTE: This site includes tools for blog users to interact (in English or Spanish). Any visitor can comment on the posts and podcasts or participate in Forums. There is also a link to a sister blog on Spanish culture. Check your school policies on students posting comments, etc. to the web and whether they are permitted to do so anonymously and/or with name or initials.
This site requires Quicktime. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomThis site is a treasure trove for Spanish teachers. It also provides a way for your ESL and ELL students to share their language and culture as the focus of a lesson, perhaps as you study other cultures. Have the ESL or ELL students and native English speakers work on understanding podcasts together. They can discuss what they understood and what they did not. You might have your Spanish speakers write out the dialogue and vocabulary selections, but be sure to have a knowledgeable adult check the Spanish before using it with your students.
To alleviate safety concerns, you might want to create a simple class policy (e.g. initials only) and obtain parent permission before inviting your class to participate in the blog, since you will not be able to monitor their submissions. The site does moderate to prevent "bad" comments from appearing online, but you do not control this moderation. ALL blog comments require an email address (kept hidden). If safety and school policy concerns limit student access, use the site as a whole-class activity and selectively choose portions for students to use. You can assign DIRECT links to podcasts by right-clicking the "Audio: download" link and copying the URL that shows in "Properties," ex. http://media.libsyn.com/media/learnrealspanish/nisbeginners20_el_kindle.mp3. Students can RIGHT-click >Save target as to download and load podcast files to their mp3 players or simply keep to listen over and over at a computer.
Grades2 to 6
In the ClassroomUse the activities in class after reading one of her stories from a country you have represented among your ESL or ELL students. Have your students write their own story activity suggestions after you have used a few of Dianne's. Be sure to include this link on your class website and in your letter home to parents. Suggest that they read just one short story and find accompanying activities for the family to do.
GradesK to 3
tag(s): guided reading (45)
In the ClassroomProvide this link in your class newsletter and on your class website, so parents can reinforce the reading skills you are teaching their children in school. Share the activities link with your students on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have your students explore the activities with a partner on your classroom computer center or cluster.
GradesK to 1
In the ClassroomPrimary teachers, make simple printed text from the storybooks to reinforce the reading skills. Use the holiday games to liven up your computer centers. During Kindergarten Open House, set up a computer center with the storybooks--ready for parent/child interaction. ESL and ELL teachers will appreciate the simplicity of the text for their beginning English-learner students.
Be sure to provide this link in your class newsletter or on your class website.
Grades4 to 12
One helpful document is the Chuala inventory which allows instructors to quiz ESL students on their pronunciation by having them pronounce 144 distinct items. They can then search the lessons for practice, recording, and making comparisons on these phonemes.
In the ClassroomSet ESL/ELL or speech/language students up with this site on a classroom computer cluster or in a lab to practice phonemes they can't hear or pronounce (see safety notice below). You MUST have a microphone or use a computer that has one built in. Use the inventory to make initial ESL/ELL evaluations as well as periodic progress checks. Students may like the site so much they'll want to practice at home.
This website could be very useful to French, Spanish, and German teachers (or teachers of other world languages). Use this site to learn new vocabulary and improve pronunciation of world languages.
Safety concern: This site requires FREE membership to use the audio tools and access content. Membership includes social networking tools, such as "friends" and "messages," and requires an email address. You may want to set up a single class account for in-school use, entering your "extra" email address to avoid unsafe use of the site by your adventurous students. If you KNOW how they are logging in (with your account), you can remove any friends or other unauthorized contacts. The problem with this approach is that you will not know which student has done what. If you do permit individual user accounts (according to your school's policies, of course), have parents and students sign an agreement that spells out permissible behavior and consequences -- and get your principal's OK!
GradesK to 5
In the ClassroomBeginning readers will enjoy this site as much as more capable readers, listening intently to the high quality presentation. Share this site with parents in your class newsletter or from your teacher web page. Use it also when you read Alice in Wonderland, and when you teach the concept of "series" stories (try the "Bertie" stories). ESL/ ELL and learning support students will benefit from reading and hearingstories at the same time. Project the story on an interactive whiteboard or projector with small groups of readers so students can follow along and even highlight words during the audio reading.
GradesK to 4
In the ClassroomUse this site with beginning readers, beginning writers, and ESL students to reinforce the skill you are teaching and to show connections between reading and writing. Make it available for your active writers to choose their own prompts, too, or for parents to use at home during breaks. Special ed teachers will appreciate these prompts as a way to promote language development. Use the pictures to record students' vocabulary on the lines below as they "tell you about the picture."
GradesK to 1
In the ClassroomAdd the link to a classroom homepage for center-time or for parents and children to practice at home. Use a different activity category each day or week with ESL/ELL or special ed students to build vocabulary. Then use a digital camera to create some pictures and sound files of your own for new categories using PowerPoint slides or the online "My Family" area.
Grades7 to 12
tag(s): pronunciation (44)
In the ClassroomBe sure to take advantage of this FREE website to help your ESL/ELL students improve their English. For older students, this program can help them prepare for the world of work. Some parents of ESL/ELL students may even appreciate the resource for their own learning. ESL teachers may want to share the site at an open house or conferences as a non-invasive way of drawing parents into the process.
GradesK to 5
GradesK to 4
In the ClassroomShare this site with parents via a link from your teacher web page for safe learning fun at home or use specific literacy activities as a center in your primary classroom.
Grades1 to 6
tag(s): interviews (17)