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I've rounded up 8 essential ESL must-haves from the wonderful teachers of English Learners on Instagram. Make sure to add it to your holiday list this year, teachers! Check out the original post on my Instagram and connect with some awesome ESL teachers too.
And not the cool ones that the students use to listen to music. I'm talking the super nerdy ones that my high school students hate. The ones that they like to pretend they work at McDonald's and ask each other for their orders (which I don't hate if they are using English! ;) These headphones typically need to have a USB connector so they can practice listening and speaking through programs such as Rosetta Stone or Duolingo. They also need a built-in microphone. We are always needing more of these at my school since they tend to stop working at some point, or the kids sometimes get a little too rough with the microphone part or do not put them away correctly. Either way, they are always in high demand!
2. Label maker
Ever since I started teaching beginners, I label everything. Even the trashcan, the door handle, and the wall. It would be a whole lot easier than laminating all of my labels to just use a label maker! Labeling items in your room helps with vocabulary development for your ELs, so load up your label maker and go to town!
3. Color printer
But whose school has a color printer, anyway? I know mine doesn't. Even if your school does have one, you run the risk of the ink running out and your office staff not being able to refill it in time when you are rushing around on your planning period. I'd rather skip it all and (hide and covet) your very own classroom color printer. Seriously, you'd be amazed at how it helps your students visualize items than just through black and white.
4. Colored whiteboard markers and mini whiteboards
Being able to draw visuals on our whiteboards are essential, but letting the students draw pictures for themselves to show understanding is huge! Have them read the text you are working on, summarize chunks with pictures, turn and talk to discuss, then have them write their summary below the picture! Use sentence stems as needed. Just right there, they would have practiced reading, writing, listening, and speaking and hopefully had a little fun drawing while they were at it! Mini whiteboards are also great for writing circles.
5. Card games
Since I teach high school, I have to admit that my game skills are a little lacking. Thankfully, my insta teacher friends have gotten me inspired to bring them back in because we all know that any kid deep down would like to play a game rather than a different activity like, say, writing or reading. Regular cards are great as well as Uno, or hand-made cards for your own activity (made with your very own label maker or laminator, of course;). Busy Teacher and FluentU have tons of card game ideas.
As teachers of language learners, we know that we need tons of visuals. I have words and pictures all over my room. And I might be driving my school librarian crazy sometimes with all of the things I want to laminate. The possibilities are endless with what you can laminate! From your own card games, newcomer cards, task cards, worksheets you want your students to write on with a dry erase marker...the list can go on. One of these days, I'll break down and buy one for myself.
7. Computer speakers
So we've got the visuals covered, but what about the audio? Who doesn't love mixing in songs to lessons? A nice pair of computer speakers are key. They also do great for using movie clips and showing the news. Here are some great tips for using songs in your classroom from British Council.
8. Maps or globes
This is a total must. Simply Ieva commented that there is nothing like a student's face lighting up and coming alive when they can show you where they are from. I like to keep a map up in my room and let my students put sticky notes with their names on them pointing to their native countries. It's a simple way to foster a culturally responsive classroom.
If I had to add a 9 and 10, they would probably be a coffee mug and coffee! Teachers love their coffee, and a little pumpkin or peppermint flavor is always nice;) Happy holidays everyone!
To learn more about strategies for incorporating language into your lessons, check out my course, My EL Mentor: Creating a Language-Rich Classroom! And if you are a high school teacher, consider joining my membership, My MLL Mentor, to discuss ideas like this with other high school ESL teachers!
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I support middle and high school teachers through monthly lesson plans, coaching, and guest speaker offerings in our Secondary ESL Teacher Membership.