BBL/ESL Resources

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Get access to a wide variety of resources for language learners, especially those focused on English Language Learners (ELLs). In this livestream, you'll see a wide variety of tools and evidence-based strategies for students.

But, Wait, Before We Start

Ever wish you had an easy to follow checklist when designing learning for students? Here's one resource that mixes research-based approaches with digital tools. Bibliography included.

Look for the future blog entry, pending publication at the TCEA TechNotes blog. Ask @EmilyForEDU about it. ;-)

Get the
Amazing Learning Design Online (ALDO),
a tool for guiding lesson design for diverse learners.

Explore the digital tools at each step.

ALDO #1: Build Trust (Lower the Affective Filter)

"If a students doesn't see you as trustworthy, then no activities will get you in the door. Students need both care and push from the teacher. The teacher uses the trust developed during the rapport stage as fuel. The result? Students give teachers permission to push them cognitively." - Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain

And, in support of that, did you know that the instructional strategy, Teacher-Student Relationships (d=0.48), accelerates student growth? This strategy focuses on “the quality of the relationships in the classroom. The more safe and supported students feel, the better the academic outcomes" (source).

A Visual Poem

Build rapport with your students, learn where they are from. You can flip the steps if visual is the way you want to start first.

You will need a Google account to make a copy. You can use either one of the planning forms available in the Google Doc to write:

  • Where Am I From? OR

  • Rose, Where Did You Get that Red?

  1. Use ONE digital tool to create your visual poem.

Find some pictures to go with each portion, then...Pick ONE OPTION and CREATE:

  • Option #1: Video. Use Put pictures in sequence, then record a short video.

  • Option #2: Draw. Try AutoDraw. Draw a visual poem, type words next to image.

  • Option #3: Write. Add an image to the Google Doc, and finesse your words.

  • Option #4: Link. Add images and pictures to a Wakelet. Record audio with, then link the audio rendition of your poem.

  • Option #5: Google Slides/Microsoft Sway. Add text, images, then record audio using the built-in feature.

Want more ideas on how to build trust?

Explore Zaretta Hammond's blog entry. You may also find these blog entries or online course on Social-Emotional Learning worth exploring. Brain-based learning is key, so be sure to explore brain-based learning tips. Also, see more at bottom of page.

ALDO #2: Assessment

By now, most of you have tried Socrative, Quizlet, Quizziz, and Kahoot! and a few others. These tools work as game-based student response systems.

As such, they provide you with formative assessment options. Have you seen these digital tools that facilitate assessment and feedback?

Strategies & Tools That Work

Making More Connections

We could explore even more tools and resources aligned to Amazing Lesson Design Outline (ALDO), but I'll leave it to you to make some more connections. For now, let's take a look at some other resources.

Three Ways to Mix Tech into Language Learning

Providing a safe, language-rich environment can enable students to learn a new language and be motivated to use it meaningfully. Students have the choice whether to participate or not in a language learning classroom.

#1 - Engage students in the authentic purpose of solving a problem (problem-based learning/inquiry-based learning).

#2 - Encourage student collaboration on projects focused on the creation of tangible product(s) (webquests, project-based learning).

#3 - Amplify human voices as they gather stories and share them (blogging, podcasts, digital storytelling/visual stories). Read this study featuring Flipgrid as a way to enhanced Second Language Acquisition (SLA).

Games, discussing topics of interest, storytelling, and projects present opportunities for students to acquire language that is at their level and that they can grow on (what Krashen calls “i+1” with the “i” being for “comprehensible input”).

This coincides with Zaretta Hammond's points about how to transform any lesson and make it friendlier to diverse students.

Tip #2: Make It Social

Games are a great way to make it social, but online tools support "make it social" in a different way.

Tools You Can Try

Tip #3: Storify It

Make stories easy to create and share. Focus on video/audio interactions. Get your inspiration from some of these.


Digital Tools




One fun way to get students engaged in Classroom Discussions is have them design fantasy maps for imaginary lands. This is a fun activity your students can get started on, and continue to build with an anthology of stories in video, audio, or text+audio formats. Learn more about teaching critical thinking and map analysis resources, including map-making with Google Slides and Google Jamboard.

Blending Technology Into Writing

Create graphic organizers

Many types of graphic organizers exist online. Use convenient apps to organize your nonfiction or fiction writing.

Use them as a model to organize your work and model it for students. I grew up drawing concept maps for lecture notes and grabbing key ideas from texts. Until I internalized the process, I used them to organize my writing.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog entry on Google's Cursive, a new app for Chromebooks.

Research, Summarize, Write

Summarizing is the process of keeping what’s relevant and discarding the rest. For bilingual brains, this is one strength to develop.

As a child, I was assigned research papers. I had limited access to encyclopedias. If I wanted access to information at home, I had to take notes on what I read. I kept what was relevant to what I hoped to write. One way to encourage students involves focusing on the main ideas and supporting details.

Get them to write, revise the information, and focus on the relevant. One tool that I use often is Hemingway Editor. It helps cut unnecessary words and shorten ideas.

Chunk Ideas/Writing with headers

Chunking splits information into small pieces. This makes reading and understanding faster and easier.

Students may see a piece of writing as one long narrative. Teach them to write longer pieces. Each piece is assembled in short chunks. Students can apply chunking strategies with these methods:

Craft short paragraphs.

Keep sentences short.

Use bullet or numbered lists.

Create a visual hierarchy with varying styles of headings and subheadings (Source)

Digital Phrase Walls and Anchor Charts

"Anchor charts are created during the instruction of the lesson” (source). And, ValentinaESL says, "If anchor charts are not being used by students, then they are simply wallpaper" (see her infographic to the right)

A question that comes to mind is “How can we transfer ownership of the anchor charts from the teacher to the students and use technology to generate the chart?”

Here are three approaches to try:

  1. Create a Padlet: Although Padlet can be used to create a word wall, you can easily share expectations for what “talking” should sound like simply by having students audio record themselves and share that in the Padlet itself. You can also include other content (e.g. text, video, images). Then make the Padlet available on a device like a digital projector or large screen television/monitor. If working with classroom centers, setting up a computer screen monitor connected to a mobile device will also work.

  2. Create a Thinglink: Think of ThingLink as a virtual interactive wall, which makes it great to combine with a large touchscreen monitor.

  3. Create an Infographic: Having students create infographics that they can share and then hang on the wall can be very engaging for them. Not only have they recaptured ownership of the anchor/phrase chart, but they are able to pull information from others in the classroom. Each contributes their own part.

The brain-based research of Marcia Tate and others support the use of visuals to incorporate new learning into memory.

When the visual represents a learning event that includes the students, it becomes an artifact of the learning experience. It has meaning for the students because they participated in its construction. (Source: Nancy McNeal, Learning Twice)

Digging Into BBL/ESL Resources

Have you read the TCEA TechNotes blog? It offers a wealth of digital tools and resources for adapting technology for use in the emergent language learners classroom. Here are a few highlights.


What will you see? Three Things: 1) Amazing BBL/ESL resources; 2) Classroom Instructional Resources with over 50 items ; and 3) Multimedia videos/audio content you can use.

Learn more about Wakelet via TCEA. You might also enjoy Kathleen Morris' Six Ways to use Wakelet in the Classroom (shown left).

Did You Know? TCEA offers an online self-paced course, Wakelet Educator. Earn the badge (shown right). It was authored by Tisha Poncio (@TxTechChick), Wakelet Digital Learning Specialist.

Comics and graphic novels take advantage of the dual processing of information. Both the text and visual imagery combine to speed processing of information. Also, consider how you can use comics and graphic novels for second language instruction; here are a few:

  • Teaching vocabulary development

  • Familiarization with idioms

  • Introducing culturally-relevant material (source)

Learning opportunities abound with graphic novels, so why not give them a shot?

Get Started with Book Creator | Read the blog entry

ELL and Bilingual Resources

A curated collection of useful resources that can help educators deliver quality English language instruction while in a period of remote teaching and learning.

Learning opportunities abound with graphic novels, so why not give them a shot?

Get Started with Book Creator | Read the blog entry

Amazing Infographics & More Resources

Curious about amazing infographics? There's a lot to love about infographics in the ESL classroom. You can also get started with your own Google Slides/Drawings template.

Wondering how to make infographics? You may be reaching for Canva, Google Slides (or MS PowerPoint), or Google Drawings. These are all powerful tools for creating infographics. You may already know about these below from the Infographics Made Simple (IMS) resource I have shared before.

Video Infographic Makers

Infographic Design Tools

Learn with Others / Aprendemos Juntos