BAP042 A Fresh Start for The ESL Classroom

Even the best lesson ideas can fall flat if we are struggling to get the classroom to follow our directions.  Things can also get off track when students don’t feel challenged or honored for their ideas.  My goal is to engage all of my ELs and work with grade level content while students gain literacy and language.   Does this sound unattainable in the ESL classroom?  It’s totally attainable!  But you might need to restart things to make it happen.  You can listen to this podcast here, on iHeartRadio, or in your favorite podcast app:

Listen to “BAP 042 Tips for a Fresh Start” on Spreaker.

If you feel like you are ready to just start over now is a great time.  A holiday break, a long weekend, or even a regular weekend is a great time to reset expectations with your students and try out new activities  I thought you might like to see my top tips for getting a class back on track so here they are:

  1. Routines. Have them and spend time training your students on the routines.  What should they do when they come in?  Where do they turn in homework? What should they do if we finish their work early? Spend some time explicitly teaching routines and then stick by them.
  2. Co-create Classroom Norms  It doesn’t have to be a social contract but get imput from your students. Revisit why the norms are important and allow students to help you create them so they feel ownership in the learning environment.  Here is a show that goes deeper into the steps and rationale for creating a social contract.
  3. Language Experience Approach as often as possible.  Co-creating text with your students will automatically increase engagement because you are honoring their ideas and allowing them to speak and contribute to the text you are scribing. You can write about a recent experience but you can also sumarize a video or spark interest and preview grade level vocabulary or content that will be taught in their content classes.  Check out this blog post and video for a lot more on how to do LEA with your students.
  4. Use questioning strategies that boost achievement and set ALL students up for success.  All of your students will be engaged if you use QSSSA.  If you need to know more about this technique, you can watch this 30 min PD video where my colleague Tina Beene and I explain it in the context of Social Studies.

    But you can see by this graphic that you can use this strategy with any content area.  Thanks to Michelle Gill for this great script to help teachers question in this way. She shared it on Twitter with this tweet that links to the download. Also try differentiating with W.I.T. when you know a student can elaborate more on an answer.  (W= Why do you think that?  I= Is there another way to say that? T= Tell me more about that.)  This is also a great tool for students to internalize as they learn to elaborate and develop ideas for writing.

  5. Banish IDK:  Explain to your students that it is totally OKAY not to know the answer to a question.  But from now on, we won’t be saying “I don’t know” anymore.  From this point forward, they can use one of these questions to be able to find more information.  By teaching students what to say instead of I don’t know, you’re empowering all students to be successful and also giving kids a life skill they can use immediately in other areas of their lives.


Use Kahoot!   A lot!  Don’t just review with this awesome platform. You can do so much more! Here is a page with many ways to use the platform.  ESL teachers can use some of the Kahoot Studio quizzes to pre-teach vocabulary for content teachers.  You can let your students create Kahoot quizzes and more.  Did you know that there is now a single-player app?  Any of your Kahoot quizzes can be played by a student 3 questions at a time so they can review concepts on their own. If you’re the newcomer teacher, you’ll love this video on Kahoot for Non-English Speakers:

You can even review those classroom norms by creating a Kahoot out of them!

Twitter Chat on Classroom Reboot

ALL of our twitter moments from our Boosting Achievement chats can be found here.

The Boosting Achievement Classroom Management Reboot chat is below.  We had a great chat on Dec 27, 2018 and so many of our PLN member contributed insight to questions about how to reboot a class when behavior has gotten a bit out of control.  Here are the tweets that were captured. THANK YOU to everyone who joins us for these great chats.

THANK YOU for checking out this blog and/or podcast episode.   If you’re reading a blog like this, you must want ELs to be successful and to feel valued.  I appreciate that so much!

I recently heard Emily Francis say that If your students FEEL valued and important they WILL  be successful.  I agree 100%.  Their timeline may be different as they grow in bilingualism or gain literacy.  But eventually, anyone can do that if they don’t give up and if they believe it’s possible.  Thank you for your part in their journey.



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