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.

 

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The Monticello Classroom - Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Grades
4 to 12
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Invite your students to step into Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and experience colonial life. This educational website is beautifully designed for both students and teachers to use...more
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Invite your students to step into Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and experience colonial life. This educational website is beautifully designed for both students and teachers to use the extensive resources to learn about Jefferson, Monticello, and daily life. The Monticello Classroom provides a student portal with fact and resource sheets, an image gallery, online activities, and a saved favorites section. Web pages offer information by reading levels: elementary, middle, and high school. The image gallery contains a slide show builder for students to create a presentation using the images and copies of primary source documents. The presentations can be saved, printed, or emailed. Students can register for an account to save favorites and other resources. Registration requires a user name, password, first name and last name. Check your school's policies before allowing student accounts, especially with full names! See more hints below.
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.

tag(s): black history (90), jefferson (17)

In the Classroom

This 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!

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Kids' Vid - Mike Keating

Grades
3 to 8
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Leap into video production with help from the Kids' Vid site! Kids' Vid steps you and your students through the process with tips on scripting, storyboarding, shooting video, and editing...more
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Leap into video production with help from the Kids' Vid site! Kids' Vid steps you and your students through the process with tips on scripting, storyboarding, shooting video, and editing it into a visual masterpiece. The site has classroom ideas, short exercises for story writing and learning video shots, an online storyboard creator, and lots of useful help from experts and kids on how to make the whole process an exciting educational experience.

tag(s): tutorials (47), video (241)

In the Classroom

Start 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.

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Owly Comics - Andy Runton

Grades
K to 4
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This cartoon/graphic novel site offers free previews of many wordless comic books and short graphic novels. You can select the regular length or mini-books. Some examples of the stories...more
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This cartoon/graphic novel site offers free previews of many wordless comic books and short graphic novels. You can select the regular length or mini-books. Some examples of the stories include The Way Home, A Time to Be Brave, Bee Nice, and several others. There are twelve lesson plans available for free download at the Teaching link. Pre-readers, ESL and ELL students, and those learning foreign languages will delight in making up the words to go along with the very expressive pictures here. The lesson plans at this website require Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): comics and cartoons (44), graphic novels (3), novels (26), vocabulary (235)

In the Classroom

Ask 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
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Open English World - David Rogers and Michael Huskins,

Grades
8 to 12
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This site's free offerings include useful weekly idioms, business expressions to improve vocabulary, and listening activities on current topics. Translations of the listening sentences...more
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This site's free offerings include useful weekly idioms, business expressions to improve vocabulary, and listening activities on current topics. Translations of the listening sentences into the student's first language are optional and include French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and simplified Chinese. Spoken utterances are always in English. Be aware there are some advertisements on this page, but nothing too distracting. Students can complete a free registration at this site, but it is not required. There is a Forum for discussion. See TeachersFirst's safety and use tips for using this site in class under Classroom Use.

tag(s): business (50), chinese (43), french (71), idioms (33), japan (55), japanese (46), korea (18), listening (69), spanish (97)

In the Classroom

Mark 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.

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Reading A to Z - learninga-z.com

Grades
K to 6
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This site has downloadable, leveled reading books for sale, but there are plenty of free stories with illustrations. Along with the stories are worksheets to test reading comprehension,...more
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This site has downloadable, leveled reading books for sale, but there are plenty of free stories with illustrations. Along with the stories are worksheets to test reading comprehension, focus on grammar from the stories, and review what took place in the story. The stories are organized by reading level, from A to Z. New free offerings appear frequently. Schools can apply for a free trial to check out the full offerings. Some stories are available in Spanish. The site offers other genres for free download including poetry, comics, pocket books, alphabet books, and wordless books. Phonics books complete the offerings.

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. .

tag(s): poetry (183), worksheets (65)

In the Classroom

The 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.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Telephoning English - English Portal.com

Grades
2 to 8
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Students learn appropriate language to use when telephoning and also begin to understand voice mail messages at this site designed for ESL and ELL students. Since using the telephone...more
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Students learn appropriate language to use when telephoning and also begin to understand voice mail messages at this site designed for ESL and ELL students. Since using the telephone is a big challenge when learning a new language, this site will be extremely helpful for newcomers. There are three levels of difficulty available.

tag(s): listening (69)

In the Classroom

Have 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.

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Inspired Beginners Spanish Podcast - Ben Curtis and Marina Diez

Grades
5 to 12
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This language-rich website features podcasts spoken using British English. The podcasts review the previous episode, explain new English vocabulary, discuss the subject in English,...more
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This language-rich website features podcasts spoken using British English. The podcasts review the previous episode, explain new English vocabulary, discuss the subject in English, and then present the Spanish language podcast. Be aware that clicking to play a podcast will start a long pause as the podcast downloads to your computer, and it may appear that nothing is happening! The subjects are of high interest for students. The name is somewhat of a misnomer, though, since people with no knowledge of Spanish might be a bit overwhelmed by the language used. Unfortunately, accompanying worksheets with complete transcripts are not free, and there is no text available elsewhere. There are a few other free worksheets available under the About link (see resources). Listening options include listening on your computer, iPod, or mp3 player as podcasts.

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..

tag(s): podcasts (65), spanish (97), vocabulary (235)

In the Classroom

This 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.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Lil' Fingers - David Lumerman

Grades
K to 1
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Little fingers meet big fun at this free interactive website. Designed with toddlers and Kindergarten kiddies in mind, this site offers storybooks, interactive games, holiday activities,...more
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Little fingers meet big fun at this free interactive website. Designed with toddlers and Kindergarten kiddies in mind, this site offers storybooks, interactive games, holiday activities, coloring sheets, and much more. There are even interactive games for ABCs and telling time. Bright colors, quick loading pages, short stories, and extra large buttons (arrows) are just some of the features that make this site easy to use. When viewing the storybooks, just make sure you are not too hasty to click. Clicking your mouse too early may mean missing out of some of the animation. Warning - at the end of each storybook, a recommended book is featured. If you click on that recommendation, you will be taken to a retail book site.

tag(s): holidays (122), time (89)

In the Classroom

Primary 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.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Story Nory: Kids Audio Stories - Blog Relations: Matthew Lynn and Hugh Fraser

Grades
K to 5
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This site offers over 100 audio stories, downloadable to mp3 players or playable from your computer using Flash. It also has constant updates, news about new offerings, and several...more
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This site offers over 100 audio stories, downloadable to mp3 players or playable from your computer using Flash. It also has constant updates, news about new offerings, and several complete books available as well. The stories available include animal stories, poems, fables and legends, modern stories, and some holiday stories. A few stories include an animated video. The text of the story is included, so students can follow along during the audio reading The audio quality is high, so enthusiasm will be contagious! This site does have some small unobtrusive advertisements. Be aware - this website is a blog, so students can add comments about a story (using first names only), if this is within your school policies.

tag(s): folktales (32), listening (69)

In the Classroom

Beginning 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.

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Robert Munsch Poems & Stories - Robert Munsch

Grades
K to 5
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Beloved children's author Robert Munsch offers many of his stories/books here in audio. Just click on the cover of the book you want to hear. You can then either listen ...more
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Beloved children's author Robert Munsch offers many of his stories/books here in audio. Just click on the cover of the book you want to hear. You can then either listen or download it to listen to later. You will also find an explanation from the author about how the book came to be. All students, including ESL students, will enjoy hearing these stories.

tag(s): folktales (32), poetry (183)

In the Classroom

Set up these recordings as a center with the book at hand and headphones for your students. Or play them for the whpoole class with your speakers turned up after lunch or at the end of the day. Include the link on your teacher web page and newsletter for parents, as well.

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Elementary School Literacy - Thinkport

Grades
1 to 6
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This wonderful site has an extensive list of free video clips of favorite children's books, author interviews, and author documentaries. Users can open them with Windows Media or Real...more
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This wonderful site has an extensive list of free video clips of favorite children's books, author interviews, and author documentaries. Users can open them with Windows Media or Real Player (the listings tell which one is needed). Some clips offer both options. Get the plug ins from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..This site MUST have a high speed connection! It can be slow to load during "peak" times (11 a.m. to 2 pm Eastern time in the U.S.). Be patient while clips download, even on a peppy network. While the videos are downloading, you may not think anything is happening. TURN OFF your pop-up blocker (including the ones built into the Google and Yahoo toolbars) so you can see the video pop-up windows.

tag(s): interviews (13)

In the Classroom

Preview the video clips before recommending them to students or using in class, since the quality of video and audio varies significantly. None is designed for full screen projection, though some will project about half-screen. Share a partial video with the class or as a center to inspire children to read a book or allow them to watch videos after they have read books. (A Dark, Dark tale would be great for Halloween week). Remember to turn up speakers for group viewing or provide headphones at your center. If you are ready to try podcasting, use these dramatic readings as models for students to record some of their favorite selections as a podcast (and possibly illustrate with student artwork). Share this link with parents on your web page or in your newsletter to encourage reading at home. Most of the books will be in our school library, so students can follow along. School librarians should know about this site as well! ESL students and weaker readers always benefit from listening to different voices read the same story as they follow along.

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Little Critter World Wide Network - Mercer Mayer

Grades
K to 3
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The Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer have more to offer on this site. Listen to the author read stories, join in with sing-alongs (turn up your speakers!), watch ...more
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The Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer have more to offer on this site. Listen to the author read stories, join in with sing-alongs (turn up your speakers!), watch videos of the books, and find games, art, and other activities on this great website. The Interactive Read and Play Ativities and the Sing Along require Shockwave and Flash, but this site has a lot more to offer. Students can also read about the author and even write a letter to Little Critter. This is a great reading reinforcement site!

tag(s): preK (238)

In the Classroom

Select items on this site to use as a center or whole-class activity after you read a Little Critter book to your class. Share this link on your teacher web page and/or in a parent newsletter for those who love these books. ESL students will enjoy listening to having the books read as they follow along on the pages of the book. You will want to be sure that students steer clear of the "store" section where Little Critter items are sold.

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KIDiddles Song Lyrics - KIDiddles

Grades
K to 3
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Find the lyrics to favorite children's songs, ready for you to share in the classroom. Many also have MIDI audio files with them for you to sing along. The indexing ...more
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Find the lyrics to favorite children's songs, ready for you to share in the classroom. Many also have MIDI audio files with them for you to sing along. The indexing is well done with songs organized alphabetically by the first word of the song. There is also a subject index helpful for planning a lesson on a certain theme. You can also search by phrase and more (see the explanation of phrase searching as well as substring matching. Some songs include a suggestion how it might be used: dance, fingerplay, etc. Information about song origin, adaptation, and copyright information is available as well.

tag(s): lyrics (15), songs (45)

In the Classroom

Turn up your speakers, then share this site with the school librarian and parents for great times using songs with fingerplays, dances, and other activities. Sing along as a center by finding a song to fit this week's classroom theme or invent your own class set of words to a familiar tune once your students know the original. Students can write verses, and the entire class create a chorus!

Use songs with elementary ESL/ELL students help perfect pronunciation, intonation, and memory of English phrases. Include this link on your teacher web page for parents to help speech or ESL/ELL students "sing along" at home.

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Colorin Colorado - WETA

Grades
1 to 10
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This totally bilingual website (a collaboration between Reading Rockets and the American Federation of Teachers) is packed with information for both ELL/ESL and regular classroom instructors...more
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This totally bilingual website (a collaboration between Reading Rockets and the American Federation of Teachers) is packed with information for both ELL/ESL and regular classroom instructors about how to encourage reading. Although the focus is on Spanish speaking students, the information is specific and easily adaptable for all reading learners. Lots of information is available on the site concerning not only reading instructional techniques, but building partnerships with families of Hispanic students, placement and assessment, and important authors. Webcast information programs include accompanying reading and discussion questions. This site is a good resource to help meet the needs of increasing numbers of students born speaking other languages. Videos and webcasts reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, they may not be viewable.

tag(s): hispanic (21), parents (61)

In the Classroom

All classroom teachers who have ENL/ESL students should consider this a primary source of information about how to teach and help second language learners. Share this link on your teacher web page and/or in a parent newsletter for those who are concerned with the challenges of the increasing number of ENL/ESL students.

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Foreign Languages - South Carolina ETV and ITV

Grades
1 to 6
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This Website is designed to meet the needs of schools that would like to offer foreign languages but have no language. It serves as an introductory-level course in French, German, ...more
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This Website is designed to meet the needs of schools that would like to offer foreign languages but have no language. It serves as an introductory-level course in French, German, or Spanish. Each 10-15 minute lesson presents many words, with emphasis on the spoken word rather than the written word. Teachers of gifted may have students who want to learn a language as independent study using this site. This site requires Adobe Acrobat Reader and Windows Media Player. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): french (71), german (45), spanish (97)

In the Classroom

Share the videos as a whole-class lesson on a projector. You will need speakers for the audio portions of this site. Include this site on your teacher web page for students and parents to access as a reference. As you study different continents or cultures, include a little of the language to expose your students to the "sounds" of other places. If you have ESL students in your class, share a video for the native English speakers to better understand the experience of learning a new language.

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Soaring High With Kites - everythingesl.net

Grades
1 to 6
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This multi-level lesson plan for ESL students offers opportunities for vocabulary development, reading, writing, and cultural sharing by responding to stories and books about kites....more
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This multi-level lesson plan for ESL students offers opportunities for vocabulary development, reading, writing, and cultural sharing by responding to stories and books about kites. Primary grade teachers could also use it in a unit on weather or as an interdisciplinary science/language arts activity. Because of its high interest level, it motivates students to participate in understanding new words and in expressing their ideas about the books they read and the techniques and history of kite flying in their countries. Students also read and talk about kite safety rules and examine websites about kites. Writing opportunities include writing rules,original stories, cultural histories haiku, and diamante poems. Students also get to design, make, decorate and fly their own kites.

tag(s): poetry (183), vocabulary (235)

In the Classroom

Plan a kite day in the fall or spring and use all or part of these plans to learn new words, build kites, and even fly them before you write about them. This would be a terrific activity to include parents at school year's end.

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Transparent Language: Hear Portuguese Survival Phrases - Transparent Language

Grades
K to 12
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Learn the basics of Portuguese. This could be very helpful for teachers working with Portuguese-speaking ESL/ELL students or for your English-speaking students who are curious about...more
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Learn the basics of Portuguese. This could be very helpful for teachers working with Portuguese-speaking ESL/ELL students or for your English-speaking students who are curious about other languages. Gifted students might enjoy comparing languages using this site and other tools.

tag(s): gifted (63), portuguese (21)

In the Classroom

Use the Portuguese "word-of-the-day" tool to help ELL students transition into an english speaking classroom. In addition to their daily lessons, use this translated word of the day to provide them with extra vocabulary. To help students overcome social shyness, have them teacher their classmates the word of the day in Portuguese and English - allowing them to practice speaking in and English as well as maintain ownership of their primary language.

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ESL Teacher Handouts, Grammar Worksheets, and Printables - Using English.com

Grades
K to 12
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Find ESL Teacher Handouts, Grammar Worksheets, and Printables on this site. These will give you a quick source of easy-to-use handouts for instant extra practice with your ESL/ELL students....more
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Find ESL Teacher Handouts, Grammar Worksheets, and Printables on this site. These will give you a quick source of easy-to-use handouts for instant extra practice with your ESL/ELL students. Parents may elso find the handouts helpful at home.

tag(s): grammar (134), worksheets (65)

In the Classroom

ESL/ELL teachers may want to share this source with regular classroom teachers and with parents to help provide students with extra practice. Some of your larning support students may benefit from them, as well. Don't forget to print the answer sheet, as well!

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American Folk Songs - Chords, Lyrics and Origins - The Acoustic Music Archive

Grades
K to 12
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Listen to recordings and read the lyrics of these classic folk songs. Include this activity as part of your study of history and the songs people sang on the railroads, ...more
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Listen to recordings and read the lyrics of these classic folk songs. Include this activity as part of your study of history and the songs people sang on the railroads, on riverboats, or as they immigrated. Use with your ENL/ESL students as another way for them to aquire English.

tag(s): oral history (15), songs (45), speech (68)

In the Classroom

Have students listen and read a selected song, then have students practice speaking the song clearly and then record their singing version. Encourage students who play the guitar to bring it in and to follow the chords and accompany the class. Create a podcast of the songs using Synth, reviewed here. Post the podcast on your classroom website for parents and family to enjoy at home. Have older students teach younger grades a chant or song to record. Make sure you follow your school district policies for posting information on the Internet.

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Tips for Parents of Third Graders - Reading Rockets

Grades
3 to 3
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Read the tips on this web page or download a single sheet of suggestions to make reading together fun and funny for parents and kids together, while encouraging the skills ...more
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Read the tips on this web page or download a single sheet of suggestions to make reading together fun and funny for parents and kids together, while encouraging the skills to make a lifelong reader. Teachers can download the tips for third grade in NINE languages in addition to English to print out and send home with your ESL/ELL students. Their parents will appreciate the opportunity to participate in their learning, and everyone wins. Printables require Acrobat Reader.

tag(s): literacy (96)

In the Classroom

As students approach their first high-stakes testing, every little bit helps. Give these tips out at conferences, in backpacks, or as a link on your teacher web page.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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