The Best Part of Me Opinion Writing

Today I will be writing about a pretty popular writing activity based on the awesome book The Best Part of Me. It is a great mentor text for poetry, opinion writing, or even descriptive writing! I decided to use it with my ELL’s to introduce Opinion Writing and I wanted to show you some things you could incorporate into your lesson.



The way the book is set up is each page has a black and white image of a student’s body part and then a poem/descriptive paragraph on the page next to it describing why it is the best part of them. It is written by students for students!

I started the week with just reading some poems to them before sending them back to class and asking them to think about what the best part of them was.

Then, after a few days of exposing them to the text and discussing it I did a Writers Workshop mini – lesson on opinion writing. You could see the mini-lesson statement below.


As a small group, we read one the neck poem and then identified the opinion, which was easy, since it was just the writer’s favorite body part. Then, we looked for the reasons they used to support their opinion. After modeling, the students received the poem about the hands and they had to highlight the reasons they could find. I added the reasons they found to the anchor chart. This is a great time to go over some academic language that usually signals opinion (because, due to this, for this reason..)


After this, they made a web with their favorite body part in the middle and started brainstorming their reasons. Once they had all their reasons, they wrote their rough draft while I took pictures of the part they identified. Once I printed the pictures, they wrote their final copy under it! I love how it turned out, the students enjoyed it, and it was a great first exposure to opinion writing and reasons/evidence in a student-friendly way!


Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have read this book and used it for a writing lesson 🙂


How I use Raz-Plus/Reading A-Z in the ELL classroom

Reading A-Z or RAZ- Plus is a resource a lot of schools offer but it can be overwhelming to navigate! There are so many great books, activities, and lessons that it is hard to pick what will work best for our ELL students. I have explored it for the past few years and am here to tell you what works for me!

I have a subscription to RAZ- Plus ELL edition. When I enter it, I go under ELL Leveled Reader Packs and see what topic I want my book to be about.


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My favorite feature of the ELL Leveled Readers is the vocabulary folder and the vocabulary cards. I print these out and the students use them throughout the week to study with and to play games with. As you can see, they are under day 1. I use the attached lesson plans or graphic organizers sometimes, but even if I do not use them, I glance at them to see what skills could be taught using these books!

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Here are some ideas of how I actually use these in my room with the unit I am working on with my newcomers now.

  1. Students take them home to study their vocabulary
  2. Students categorize them (as seen in picture below)
  3. Students use them as flash cards to quiz each other by showing the person the visual while covering the word
  4. Students form sentences using the words
  5. Students with higher language proficiency can connect two words together by saying ______ and ______ are connected because ________________.



Here students are studying the seasons and adding the words that go under each season

These are just some ways I like to use these vocabulary cards! Let me know if you have any other ideas of how you would use them.

Thanks for reading,


Labeling in the ELL classroom

Labeling has become my best friend this year in my groups. It is such a simple thing but I know it is an effective strategy for all ELL’s. Today, I am going to give you some ideas of how you can use labeling with newcomers as well as students who are level 3 -4’s. I use Jen Jones products for these labeling activities. It is easy to find your own but I like it all in one product from TPT.



As my newcomers come in, I have the picture of the day on the board.  They get their folders and they have their own packet where they have the image. They start labeling it with whatever words they may know. Sometimes they may know just the colors and body parts, since that is what we are working on, and that is OKAY! Then, we brainstorm together and I introduce new vocabulary to them, like grass, rocks, trees, etc.

The labels then become our word bank and we write a caption for the picture. For now, they start with the sentence starter, “I see…”  and they try their best to form a sentence using the words from the word bank. I listen to their formation, and then respond with the correct formation and write it down. They copy down this caption under their own! As the year goes on, we will add more labels to the pictures such as adjectives, verbs, and different sentence starters for the caption!

I love these activities because they build the student’s Tier 1 vocabularies, provide opportunities for writing, provide background knowledge, and even incorporate some informational text features (caption, labels).

More Proficient Students


With my more proficient 4th graders, I use Picture of the Day from Jen Jones as well. The concept is similar but it incorporates some reading strategies. The students also come in and label the image but then we make observations and inferences based on the image. You can see some of the examples that they came up with with our first picture. I like this activity because it allows the students time to interact. I have them turn and talk to a partner about the observations and then also about the inferences. After we share them, they pick one each to write down in their notebooks!


Let me know if you love labeling and using images as much as I do! Thanks for reading 🙂



My ELL Resource Office!

I am so excited to share my new space for the upcoming school year. Last year, I shared a room with another ELL teacher so I am excited to have my own office. Here are some pictures of how I designed it. I am not done since I do not know my caseload yet! Once I know exactly what I will focusing on, I will be putting up tons of visuals and anchor charts!


Right after I took out my desk- still a big mess!


I have a guided reading table and a circle table for students and I will utilize one of them as my desk as well.


The space in front of the whiteboard! I will meet here with most of my groups.


My Picture of the Day bulletin board. Loving yellow this year! Also, space for language and content objectives 🙂


A little idiom of the week display I found online!


This is kind of my desk area where I have some personal stuff as well as whiteboard for students and writing materials for students!


My library area!

Thanks for reading. If you are an ELL teacher, do you share a space or have your own?

Things your Spanish teacher never taught you: Giving commands!


When I was in high school Spanish, I remember always being frustrated by forming commands. It seems confusing that there were so many different conjugations just to say “Sit down” or “Talk!” I would just avoid ever forming them and just use tener + que + verb (tienes que sentarte) instead.

A few years ago, I really started studying them and made myself learn them and practice them! Here are some silly tips about forming commands that might help you remember them better. This is just for regular conjugations, not the irregulars!

  1. Informal Affirmative Tú Commands – This means you want someone to do something. You would use these with students or friends. Since you use the tú form when talking to friends, it is usually a easy conversation to have- just like forming the command!
  • Just think about the tú form and drop the -s
    • hablas- habla
    • comes- come
    • caminas – camina

Easy peasy, just like talking to friends!

2. Formal Affirmative Usted Commands- This would be a command given to a parent or another older teacher or someone you are not close to or want to be polite to. These conversations tend to be harder or a little more stressful. Just like forming the command takes one extra step!

  • Think about the tú form command, drop the s, but change the ending to the opposite (a to ee to a) or the present subjunctive if you want to be fancy
    • hablas- hablae- hable
    • comes- comea- coma
    • caminas- caminae- camine

One extra step, but not too bad!

These are the first two basic commands I thought I would share with you. You would use these when talking to one person, not a group. So, when you forget how to form a command when talking to someone, think easy peasy when talking to friends and just drop the -s and when you are using usted, just do one extra step and change the ending to the opposite.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any tips you like to use when speaking Spanish!

Back to School: Fun ELL reading and writing game!

I played this game with a bunch of small group friends last night and the whole time I was thinking that it would be an awesome game for ELL students to practice their reading and writing skills as well as vocabulary. I think it would be especially fun for a 1st day of school ice-breaker/get to know each other kind of game!

Materials you will need: 

  • small pieces of scratch paper (if there are 5 students playing, each student will get 5 pieces of paper, 6 students 6 pieces, etc. )
  • pencils

I would quickly prep the paper before hand and have it ready for the students. The example I will demonstrate today will be as if I was playing with 3 students so I will 4 pieces of paper and each student will have 4 pieces of paper as well.


  1. Tell the students to either draw a detailed picture or write a sentence with a lot of details on their paper. Give them around a minute to draw/write their sentence. In this example, I will start with a sentence. Once they have their sentence, they will pass their stack to the right.


    This is the sentence I came up with, the more detailed the better. If they just write a word, not too much would change!

     2. The next person will read the sentence and then draw a picture based on the            sentence.  Each round can last one minute so it is kind of fast and fun.


This is the picture that accompanied the sentence above drawn by the next person.

      3. The process continues so the student would now pass the picture they drew to the           next person and the next person would write a sentence based on the picture.  Eventually, it gets back to the original writer and then the game is over.


The next person interpreted the picture above as this so they wrote what they saw.


This was the final picture drawn based on the sentence! This is very different from the first sentence.

As you can see, this game is kind of like telephone but with drawing, reading, and writing. It is hilarious at the end when the students get their stack back and see how their original sentence has changed through the other student’s interpretations of the sentences and drawings. I plan on playing this the first day I have my groups to get to know their personalities and little bit and to get a very informal writing assessment.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you would play this with your students!

My ELL Resource Space


My ELL corner

Depending on what ELL teacher you talk to in what district, you will get a varied response as to what kind of room/space/office they have to service the students. I have friends who share a room with up to 4 other ELL teachers, some have their own full classrooms, some have small offices, and some just have a traveling cart.

Last year, I shared a room with another ELL resource teacher who also worked with the same grades that I work with, 3rd – 5th. We had two desks in our room and one whiteboard. In the beginning of the year, we kind of split the room in the middle and had our own tables we worked at. Our schedules were different so we sometimes had students at the same time, which can be distracting, but not always.

After ACCESS testing, we decided to put up a divider and I really liked it! I did not have access to the big whiteboard or projector anymore but I did have my own small whiteboard that you can see in the picture. I also got a guided reading table instead of the rectangle table I had earlier. I used the wall to put up all my visuals as well as the divider to put up even more.

I met with all my groups here, if I was not pushing in or co-teaching. I kept most of the materials in the plastic boxes or I just put the materials I would need that day on the table so they were ready for my groups. I was blessed to only have to share with one teacher and have my own space. This year I will be moving to my own office so I am excited for that! I will share pictures from my new office once I get it all organized.

Thanks for reading! If you are an ELL resource teacher, let me know what kind of space you have!