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My Favourite ESL Resources for Back to School

As I am looking forward to a new school year in my new school, I have already started planning and creating new resources. Since I have my classroom now and I can finally make the big decisions about the teaching materials I would love to use, I am all excited to be able to say good-bye to textbooks and use what I believe best responds to my learners’ needs. If you are looking for some engaging and valuable resources for your textbook-less ESL class or you wish to supplement your own materials, here is a list of my favourite teaching resources that I have successfully used for years. These student-tested teaching materials along with some of my new creations are now available in bundled options in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so you can access them in one place. 

1. Persuasive/opinion text guided writing resource  (with mentor texts and differentiated activities)

My most cherished resource, which I have improved several times over the years, is my Opinion Text Writing workbook. This differentiated resource has been extremely useful to my learners, especially to struggling writers. The included mentor texts and guided writing practice have helped my learners improve their writing skills beyond expectations. You may find this item in Bundle C along with the self-assessment forms, ESL evaluation grids and annotating and reading strategies handout. 

If you love teaching reading strategies as I do, or if you would like to improve your learners' reading skills, my annotating and reading strategies bookmarks and handout may also be useful in your ESL or ELA class. You may also find this resource included in my ESL Resources Mega Bundle.

Bundle A also includes a time-saving complete unit on taking risks. I teach high school ESL, so I always look for topics my learners are able to relate to. I enjoy starting the school year with this unit because I want to show my students that taking risks is something they should not be afraid of. In addition, I also want them to know that taking calculated risks and stepping out of their comfort zone are actions that will keep them moving forward not only in English class, but in life, too. 

4. Growth mindset posters and schedule/routine labels

Bundles A and B contain my recent watercolour classroom decor set including growth mindset posters, matching schedule/routine and teacher toolbox labels. If you would like to have a minimalist, but elegant classroom organization tool for your secondary ESL classroom, this watercolour set is your go-to resource. If you are not into watercolour classroom sets, Bundles D and E contain a different classroom set I also enjoyed creating. If you prefer having floral-themed growth mindset posters and matching schedule/routine labels in your class, you can opt for either Bundle D or E. 

I also love to have posters showing the ESL competencies in my classroom as I refer to them regularly. My collection of useful posters for the ESL class will nicely blend in with the purple watercolour classroom posters and labels. These practical ESL posters may be used as quick study guides, for example, when teaching the feature article. If you teach enriched ESL students in Quebec, a feature article poster should be a must-have item in your class. I have also created a couple of genre posters for my ESL class because we ask our learners to write journals, have them write or read biographies, essays, poetry or science fiction short stories and novels, yet, we spend little time on analysis and genre features. Rather, we expect our students to transfer knowledge from their L1, so we can focus more on content and language than in-depth structural analysis. These posters can help students refresh their memory of the main characteristics of different genres seen in their L1 literature classes. I believe that understanding the features of different text types not only helps learners to make more valuable self-to-text, text-to-text and text-to-world connections, but it also makes them better writers. So, I think that genre posters might come in handy in any ESL class. These posters are available in Bundles A, B and E.

6. ESL Evaluation grids

Another essential tool all ESL teachers should have is a set of print & go evaluation grids for all competencies. It has taken me years to perfect my assessment grids that also align with the ESL curricular requirements in Quebec. When I was a first-year teacher, my assessment rubrics were very detailed and made grading a burden. I wanted to be very thorough, but I soon realized that what I was doing was counterproductive. So, I have come up with more user-friendly rubrics that definitely make grading quicker and easier. Even though I know my assessment grids by heart now, I always give a copy to my students so they know what my expectations are and how I will evaluate their performance. For instance, at the beginning of the year, I hand out three essential assessment grids that my students need to keep in their binders: oral interaction (speaking skills), general rubric for reinvestment of understanding (reading skills) and writing. When grading their journals, written productions or written responses to texts, I use only a small quick scoring rubric stapled in learners’ notebook, and invite them to have a look at the more detailed assessment grid in their binder to check what they did well and what still needs improvement based on the scoring rubric. You will find these evaluation grids (Quick scoring rubrics are already included.) in Bundles B, C, D and E. 

7. Self-assessment forms

I also like to hold my students accountable for their learning, so that is why I use self-assessment forms that my students need to complete after each class, group work, oral interaction and end of the term. These self-assessment forms are available in Bundle C, and you may use them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis or when your students complete a group assignment or interact orally. 

Since oral interaction is at the heart of ESL, my collection of thematic task cards will surely make your students talk. You can use them as speaking or writing prompts. All these conversation prompts are student tested and student approved. 🙂 

9. Back to school Student Information Handout

I have become tired of plain student survey forms, so I have come up with a student information handout that is more fun to complete. 

Look for “THE ESL TEACHER’S BACK-TO-SCHOOL KIT” bundles in my Teachers Pay Teachers store so you can save up to 30% on my favourite resources for back to school. Of course, you may also download all bundled items separately.

Are you looking for ESL resources for the entire school year? Check out my ESL Resources Mega Bundle. You may download this free curriculum pacing guide that provides an overview of how you could plan out the school year using my teaching materials.

Let me know about your favourite resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so I could make them available in a bundled format for back to school. To visit my store, click here: Versatile Teacher Toolkit ESL and ELA Resources

Happy teaching!

Kynga C. 


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