English (ESL) Weblog

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.


Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 18 Jan 2022 11:05:00 +0000

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! ?
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 04 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000

?Happy New Years ?

 ?Happy New Years ?



to all of you 
from all of us 
at Fun To Teach!
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Fri, 31 Dec 2021 21:54:00 +0000

? ? Happy New Year Sale! ? ?

Hello friends!

?  ? Say goodbye to 2021 and welcome 2022 ?   ?


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favorite Fun To Teach resources!


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Happy Teaching,



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Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 28 Dec 2021 20:27:00 +0000

Happy Holidays to you!??

Wishing everyone love and joy this holiday season! 

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


Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Fri, 24 Dec 2021 21:53:00 +0000

Co-Teaching and English Language Learners ?

Have you ever wondered about 

Co-Teaching and ESL?  

How does it work?  What does it look like? 

 Let?s take a peak! ?

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. 


?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.


?Second, co-teaching is intended to enhance participation of ELLs.


?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!







Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Wed, 08 Dec 2021 23:30:00 +0000

TPT Sale! Shop now!

Happy Teaching!
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Mon, 29 Nov 2021 15:32:00 +0000

? 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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Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 23 Nov 2021 12:00:00 +0000

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!



Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 02 Nov 2021 00:08:00 +0000

Do you use Sentence Frames During Math Instruction
Hello teachers! 

Do you use math sentence frames during your math instruction?  

If you do, then you know how they can solidify comprehension not only with second language learners, but all students.  Let?s take a deeper look at using sentence frames in Math.

What is a sentence frame?

A sentence frame is a question or sentence with words removed to provide language or writing support for students.  Usually, the sentence frame consists of a subject and a predicate.  Examples of simple frames are I like___ or I can___.  

Why use sentence frames in Math instruction?

By using sentence frames in math, teachers can offer a method of scaffolding for students as they build and develop math skills.  Sentence frames give students an opportunity to access the math concepts and to engage in the classroom conversation of math by answering questions. Giving students part of the language of a sentence, or the structure of a sentence allows a focus on the concept, not the language.  A sentence frame helps students see what an answer might look like. Sentence frames give students a chance to use the new math vocabulary in a meaningful way.  Sentence frames support students' ability to produce language at a higher language level than they are at.

How to Use Math Frames During Instruction? 

Sentence frames during math:

? Teacher models the use of the sentence frames including the new math vocabulary presented in the lesson.
? Teacher practices with class.
? Partners or small groups practice together.
? During the rest of the lesson integrate this practice.
? At the end of the instruction, students use the sentence frames to write about what they were learning.

Examples of sentence frames:

Happy Teaching, 

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 28 Sep 2021 10:00:00 +0000

?Learning and Literacy Centers?
Hello everyone! 

Welcome to a center-based classroom!

Imagine walking into your classroom and seeing students in small groups working cooperatively. One group sits at a center with the teacher for guided reading instruction. Another group of children works at a thematic center sequencing the life cycle of an insect. At the next center, students work together restructuring a story with sentence strips. The teacher signals for attention; the students are quiet for directions. Students clean up their centers and rotate to the next center, going right to work.  Centers can be done simply with the helpful hints we give you here. Read on and
make centers a reality in your classroom!

How is your school year starting off?  Are things running smoothly?  How are your literacy or math centers and stations working out?  Let's talk about centers!

Let's start with the basics! ?

What does a center-based classroom look like?

A well-run center-based classroom will have small groups of children working independently at all of the centers, the teacher leading a small group at the guided reading center, and perhaps a parent facilitating another center.  The children will be engaged in the activities, well trained about the procedures, and involved in their own learning.

What's the rationale?

Learning centers facilitate growth and learning!
? Learning centers provide an opportunity for small-group
reading instruction.
?  Learning centers enhance student learning.
?  Learning centers teach students responsibility.
?  Learning centers allow you to teach to a variety of
learning styles.
?  Learning centers offer a wider variety of activities for
students to learn from.
?  Learning centers allow students to work at their own level
while reviewing and practicing skills.
?  Learning centers promote cooperative learning

What is a center?

A center is a physical area in a classroom set aside for a specific
learning purpose. The center has appropriate materials and supplies so students can work individually or in cooperative groups.

How many students should I put in each group?

We recommend three to four students in each group at each center.

How long do students spend at each center?

Twenty to thirty minutes at each center is an adequate amount of time for students to complete most center activities.

How do students know where to go when it is time to rotate centers?

By teaching and practicing the routines and procedures you want to be followed at center time, your students will know what you want them to do. We suggest you follow a clockwise rotation pattern to rotate students through centers.

How do I group my students for centers?

To teach to the varied levels in all classrooms, we suggest you group your students by reading abilities. By grouping students this way, you can meet the instructional needs of all your students in language arts. Learning centers will allow you to teach to your low, medium, and high ability groups and move everyone forward.

How does a center-based classroom look?

Many teachers use tables and desks against the walls in
their classrooms. You can use student desks as a center, too.
During center time, the desks will be empty and small groups of children will be sitting at centers throughout the room. The teacher at guided reading will have her/his back to the wall in order to see all centers at a glance from where she/he sits.

How many adults do I need to run centers in my classroom?

 Just you! When you teach the routines and procedures of
your centers well, your students will learn how to work without supervision during center time.

How long is center time?

That depends on you and on how many centers you have
each day. If you have five groups of students rotating through five centers and spending 15 minutes at each center, then you will need 1 hour and 15 minutes for center time. Six groups of children rotating through six centers will need an hour and a half. Remember to add a little extra time for the rotation of
groups when determining the time you will allot for centers.

When it is time to change centers, how do I get my students? attention?

Ringing a bell or calling out ?freeze? or ?give me five? are great ways to call your students to attention. Teach your students to ?freeze? when the signal is given and to listen for instructions.

By providing a center-based environment in your classroom, you will be able to give your attention to small groups of children during ?guided reading.? Research shows that this small-group instruction is one of the primary components that leads to strong readers.  Centers are perfect for differentiation and making sure you are reaching and teaching your
English learners
. Centers also allow you to teach to all the student levels that are in your classroom. Your choice to run centers in your classroom will also teach your students how to work cooperatively in small groups. Learning centers allow you to teach ?responsibility? as students work independently, practicing and
reviewing skills and concepts at each center. 
Happy Teaching,

For more in-depth information on running centers in an elementary classroom Click Here! 

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 14 Sep 2021 10:30:00 +0000

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Teachers are some of the hardest working people on the planet. 


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On Sunday, September 5th + Monday, September 6th, search #laboroflove on TpT to find hundreds of products marked down to only $1.


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Happy May Day everyone??????

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Sat, 01 May 2021 14:40:00 +0000

TPT Sale April 6 and 7

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?Intermediate English Language Learner Bundle!?

This engaging intermediate K-5 English language level bundle is packed with essential EFL, ESL and ELD activities for your English Language Learners (ELLs). 

The 26 resources in this K-5 bundle will take you through the school year assured that you are teaching the essential foundation of English grammar and vocabulary to your intermediate second language learners. 

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Lori)
Publ.Date : Wed, 07 Apr 2021 09:30:00 +0000

Regular or Irregular ? Past Tense Verbs Take a lot of practice!

Regular or Irregular ? Past Tense Verbs Take a lot of practice!

Hello Teachers!
Today we are talking about verbs, past tense verbs in English!

English regular past tense verbs are straightforward, right?  

You simply add an ?-ed? at the end and you?re done. For example: ?The girl played ball.?   

Sounds simple, but it can be sticky!

When it comes to English past tense verbs it isn?t so easy.  First, the tricky parts of regular past tense verbs are the 3 different sounds that ?ed?  makes at the end of a word. The 3 sounds of -ed are /t/, /id/, and /d/.  Native speakers figure out these different ending sounds naturally, but with English language learners, these sounds need to be taught and practiced.

Irregular past tense verbs are not as straightforward.  

Irregular past tense verbs follow different rules.  Irregular verbs do not add ?-ed? at the end. They get modified completely. The present tense sentence of ?I tell you a story.? becomes in the past tense, ?I told you a story.?

But hold onto your past tense verbs!

The only method for learning irregular past tense verbs is to hear them, say them, write them, and read them so many times that it becomes natural to one as a speaker.  There are no specific rules regarding conjugating the tenses of irregular verbs.


That is not all, there are other words that do not change at all in the present and past like ?cut? and ?put?.  Furthermore, other words may not change at all in writing but are pronounced differently depending on the tense.  An example of this is, ?I read a book? in the present tense and ?I read a book? in the past tense.  When writing nothing changes, but when pronouncing it IS different.

Games are engaging and effective strategies for elementary teachers with English language learners.  

Games allow students to practice the past tense in a fun and lively way. Past tense verb games are great methods towards mastery for young students to become fluent with regular and irregular past tense verbs.

Happy Teaching!

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Sun, 04 Apr 2021 17:01:00 +0000

ESL Year-Long Lesson plans| ELD Teacher Resource Bundle is for all Language Levels!

Attention ESL Teachers...

Here it is!
ESL Year-Long Lesson plans| ELD Teacher Resource Bundle is for all Language Levels!

All in one bundle of year-long ESL Curriculum that provides ELD resources for all English Language Learner (ELL) levels. The activities in this month-by-month ELD bundle provide your English Language Learners the opportunity to acquire and practice English to improve fluency, parts of speech, vocabulary, and grammar.

The best part is that we have done the heavy lifting for you! This bundle requires minimal PREP on your end!

Each week gives your ELL students the opportunity to learn and practice targeted parts of speech and vocabulary. It's the bundle every teacher of ELLs needs.


ESL Year-Long Lesson plans| ELD Teacher Resource Bundle is for all Language Levels!

  • ELL Newcomers
  • Beginners/Early intermediate English Learners
  • Intermediate ELLs
  • Early Advanced and Advanced English Language Learners


The games and activities in this bundle are great practice for all your English language learners. Use these engaging resources in centers, independent work time, whole class, or small groups.



ESL & ELD K-5 Curriculum Map - a FREE year-long pacing guide!

ESL Year-Long Lesson plans| ELD Teacher Resource Bundle is for all Language Levels!


Each month features:

All the ESL resources that are suggested in the curriculum guide for that month for each language level

Lesson Plans for each resource

Monthly Word Walls

Writing Activities

Parts of Speech focus resources

Games and Activities

And much more



Nouns & Articles







?Regular Past Tense - 3 sounds of ed

?Irregular Past Tense

?Past Participle

?Phrasal Verbs - informal and formal Vocabulary






Thematic Units feature:

ESL Lesson Plans


ELD Songs and Chants


Units for each ELL language level

Language Functions

Language Forms ( grammatical forms, sentence patterns, sentence starters)


Thematic Vocabulary



Vocabulary Development Lessons:

Cognate Word Wall and Journal

Academic Vocabulary Expansion

Math Vocabulary units:

?Number Sense Vocabulary





?Number Sense

Formal and Informal Language

Semantic Gradients

Number Prefixes


Word Walls:

Back To School

Community People


President's Day

Valentine's Day

Dolch Words Pre K - 3rd Grade

End of the Year

Father's Day


You will also love:


Graphic Organizers

Tongue Twisters

Reading Strategy Songs

Learning Centers Made Simple

Songs and Chants for ESL


Flip Books for numbers 0-19 and skip counting

St Patrick's Day Idioms

Sentence Starters

ESL Year-Long Lesson plans| ELD Teacher Resource Bundle is for all Language Levels!

Excellent curriculum for classroom teachers, ELD teachers, speech therapy, and intervention. Buy it here:


Why Choose Fun To Teach?

Fun To Teach is a small family business.  We offer bilingual elementary math games for kids in English and Spanish. We offer an assortment of fun and educational math, grammar, reading, Spanish, ESL, and ELD games, activities, products, and materials.

These simple games and activities include lesson plans, activities and games, worksheets, and more.  Best of all they are easy to assemble and easy to play.

All Fun To Teach math games are bilingual elementary math games and are available in English and Spanish.

. . . . . . . . .

Happy Teaching,

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Fun To Teach)
Publ.Date : Tue, 16 Mar 2021 19:15:00 +0000