January 18, 2022

Teaching Math Vocabulary with Success to ELL and At-Risk Students

Math Vocabulary

Hello Teachers and welcome to 2022!

To get set for this year let's talk about Math vocabulary.  Are you ready?

Math feels so overwhelming some days for our students, doesn’t it? Especially, if like me, you work with ELL students or any other student who may be at-risk of academic challenges. We know that math is about so much more than numbers, there is vocabulary involved that tend to trip up even our best. In math, words often have multiple meanings or mean something else entirely from their “normal” use. Suddenly words like face have nothing to do with where we wear our smiles. So how do we teach math vocabulary to ELL and at-risk students? 

Pre-Teaching and Graphic Organizers

Just like with ELA vocabulary, the best place to start with math vocabulary is at the beginning. This means pre-teaching any words that we know are going to cause a struggle. I love to use a graphic organizer during this time. My students make a notebook as we add definitions, examples, and even pictures of our new words. The organizers become a learning tool that my students can look back on throughout the lesson and as a review at the end.

Modeling and Visual Cues

I’ve already mentioned some visual cues, but I like to take it a step further than just my students’ individual notebooks. I place visual cues for our most challenging words around the classroom when teaching math vocabulary to ELL and at-risk students. We move from spot to spot and I model the meaning of the word specific to our math lesson. This gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about how some words have different meanings in different contexts. 

Vocabulary Banks and Student Friendly Definitions

After we have reviewed the words together and talked through each meaning in math, my students will start to build a vocabulary bank. I like to use index cards with a ring for this. Students will have the words written on one side and then a student-friendly definition on the other side. This definition needs to be anchored in skills that our students already have. Luckily math lessons build naturally.

I realize that the vocabulary bank is very similar to their notebook, but I also know that writing the words and definitions multiple times in multiple ways is an excellent reinforcer.

Math Journals

I usually break teaching math vocabulary to ELL and at-risk students into chunks…pre-teaching, the lesson, and the review. At the end of each of these chunks, I have my students complete a math journal page. This varies depending on grade level but typically looks something like completing this prompt, “Today in math I learned…”. This is just one more way that students are able to think through their vocabulary, explain it in their own terms, and reinforce written expression and understanding.

Teaching Math Vocabulary

Math vocabulary does not have to feel overwhelming to our students. If we do small pieces leading up to the big event, build on prior knowledge, and make sure our students have multiple ways to show what they know then teaching math vocabulary to ELL and at-risk students can be fun. As your students make progress they will feel proud of the words and knowledge that they gain on this journey.


January 4, 2022

Past Tense Demystified for the ELL Classroom

Hello everyone and Welcome to 2022 ~ it's going to be a great year.

2021 is now in the past so what better time to talk about the past tense!

We all know the struggle that comes with introducing English learners to new verb tenses - the uncertainty, stress, and difficulty keeping everything straight can overwhelm the brightest child. As they progress past the basics, ELs can become downright anxious. So how can we help them succeed?

In my experience, simple examples coupled with fun activities offer ELs the best opportunity to gain real mastery of any English language concept.

It’s all too easy to get bogged down by complex explanations when it comes to teaching the differences between past continuous, past perfect, and past perfect continuous. This is where examples come in handy:

The past simple is something that was completed in the past; the verb probably ends with -ed.
The past continuous describes something that was happening over a period of time in the past; it uses the formula “was ____ing.”
The past perfect describes a completed action earlier (or farther) in the past; it uses the formula “had ____ed.”
The past perfect continuous describes what was happening over a period of time earlier in the past; it uses the formula “had been ____ing.”

Past simple I put up lights.
Past continuous I was putting up lights.
Past perfect I had put up lights.
Past perfect continuous I had been putting up lights.

For more advanced English learners, you can combine the different past tense forms into sample sentences for them to complete with you or on their own:
Steve _________ (to wait) for Nyla for 40 minutes before she __________ (to show) up at work.
Steve had been waiting for Nyla for 40 minutes before she showed up at work.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE playing verb games with my students! They can’t get enough of it and are acquiring deeper knowledge with every minute they play. That’s a win-win for sure!

I’ve had tremendous success with the Past Tense Verbs Games in particular. They feature rules that are easy to learn along with materials that work at multiple levels of English mastery. That’s a win-win if there ever was one!

How do you tackle verb tenses with ELs? Comment below with your favorite tips, games, and ideas!

Happy Teaching! πŸ’œ

December 31, 2021

πŸŽ‰Happy New Years πŸŽ‰

 πŸŽ‰Happy New Years πŸŽ‰



to all of you 
from all of us 
at Fun To Teach!

December 28, 2021

🎊 🎊 Happy New Year Sale! πŸŽ‰ πŸŽ‰

Hello friends!

🎊  πŸŽ‰ Say goodbye to 2021 and welcome 2022 🎊   πŸŽ‰


Start your new year off with money-saving deals on your 


favorite Fun To Teach resources!


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Happy Teaching,



Click here to shop!

December 24, 2021

Happy Holidays to you!πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

Wishing everyone love and joy this holiday season! 

 to all of you 
from all of us 
at Fun To Teach!


December 8, 2021

Co-Teaching and English Language Learners πŸ‘€

Have you ever wondered about 

Co-Teaching and ESL?  

How does it work?  What does it look like? 

 Let’s take a peak! πŸ‘€

Hello teachers ~ 

I can't believe it is December already!  Whoa!!!  January is often a month of change and if you are thinking about co-teaching, this post will interest you!  Read on :)

Co-teaching is an enjoyable and interactive way to share the responsibility of teaching some or all the students in a classroom.  Teachers with differing expertise, competencies, and /or knowledge come together to create a vibrant classroom full of learning and sharing. Co-teaching is a fun and inspired way for English Language Learners (ELL) and students with differing language levels, prior knowledge, and cultural understanding to learn from two teachers who may have varying ways of thinking or teaching students.

There are three main objectives of co-teaching English learners. 


πŸ’§The first objective of co-teaching is intended to expand the range of instruction. Students who are taught using more than one teaching styles often better understand information presented in the classroom.


πŸ’§Second, co-teaching is intended to enhance participation of ELLs.


πŸ’§Thirdly, it is intended to improve performance outcomes for ELLs.


When co-teaching, both teachers are working together to deliver instruction within one classroom.

The determination of who does what is decided by both the classroom teacher and ELD specialist.  This collaboration ensures a clear understanding about the role of each teacher.


In classrooms where ELD and classroom teachers co-teach both teachers strive to engage ELLs in instruction that is grade appropriate, academically rigorous and aligned with English Language Proficiency (ELP) and Common Core Standards .  Leveraging the expertise of the ELD teacher and the content teacher heightens the success of English Learners.  This collaborative method of teaching assures that English Language Development is integrated into every lesson.


Teachers working together can develop a variety of instructional repertoires. Teaching together brings a fresh and interactive feeling to the classroom as teachers play different, but equal roles in this instructional setting.


When teaching the Language Domain of the Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) standards co-teaching elevates the importance of English grammar, conventions, vocabulary in the classroom for all students.


If you are an ELD specialist or classroom teacher don’t miss the opportunity to co-teach.  It is a rewarding experience and so very beneficial to all students in the classroom, especially English Language Learners!




Happy Teaching!







November 29, 2021

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Happy Teaching!

November 23, 2021

πŸƒ I Just Barely Made It!

Hi everyone,

During the previous year I noticed that a group of my ESL intermediate speakers of English were struggling with the phrases ‘just barely’.  

They were substituting ‘just hardly’ for just barely.  I put together a one day  ESL lesson and then created this chant for continued practice, until they became fluent with the phrase.  

I want to share the call back with any of you who might be able to use it.  So here is the little ESL call back chant I wrote to practice the phrase “just barely”.


I just got out of bed,
and barely touched my breakfast.
I just grabbed my books
And headed out the door!

I just barely made it.
I just barely made it.
I just barely made it, to school on time!
Happy Teaching,

Hey everyone it is coming!


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Included in this explicit EFL, ESL and ELD K-5 intermediate speakers of English activities bundle are:

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November 1, 2021

English Learners and Specific Learning Disability

As ESL ELD teachers we are always worried about the misidentification of English learners.  Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is a language and literacy-related disability referring to a psychological processing disorder.  If focuses on understanding or using spoken or written language. 

Determining whether an EL’s learning difficulties are from language or something else is a tangled web.

Like many ELD teachers, I am often asked questions from colleagues and specialists that seek clarification and guidance on deciding how to untangle this web. 

Here is a recent question/inquiry I received:

“For this little person, since you see other students with ELD needs, would you say her challenges are based on ELD needs or that it’s likely she has a learning disability? Any guidance or advice you could offer in this case would be greatly appreciated.”

As teams of educators ponder how to work best with English Learners, they can reflect on many different approaches.

Here is a preliminary list of considerations I offer our staff:

·      What different types of interventions has she had and what were the outcomes?
·      What kind of differentiation has been used in the classroom?
·      Has she been in classrooms with a teacher who has been trained in SIOP?
·   Consider whether the learning environment appropriately supports or has supported the student and her/his language needs.
·      Use the data supplied here to examine student language development and performance.
·      Conference with parents to see what THEY are noticing about their child.  Ask questions about the child’s language abilities in both English and the native language.  This is important because students who do not have a solid foundation in their first language struggle much more when learning English.  Does the student have a strong native language?
·      Analyze student data to compare student progress in relation to peers who are making typical progress over time.
·      Where are the gaps?  If a phonics assessment has been made look for sounds/letter combinations that were incorrect.  Are those errors that are sounds or combinations that are different or nonexistent in the native language?
Click here if you would like to download this quick guideline.

I would love to hear what considerations you offer your school teams when working with ELLs.
Happy Teaching!