Colleen Geraghty’s ELL Resources

As part of my continuing quest to feature Touro GSE teacher candidates work I chose the exemplary resource directory of my current teacher scholar Colleen Geraghty. I believe involving one’s teacher candidates in publication creates a bridge to continued, life-long teacher research in their chosen field.

Colleen Geraghty is certified in general education and educating students with disabilities both birth through 6th grade in her second year of teaching as a 4th-grade special education teacher at P.S.134 in Brooklyn. She is currently completing her third semester at Touro College as a part of the TESOL program.

Resource Repository for ELL Students

  • Student-Friendly Rubric (ex: Writing Rubric 4th Grade)
  • Videos (ex: Let it Go/Theme Lesson Plan)
  • Game-Based Learning (ex: Candyland)
  • Project Based Learning (Reading the Weather)
  • Use of Explicit Checklists
  • Imagine Learning
  • Folders for Mini-Charts with visuals (one side reading and writing, the other math for each chapter)
  • Colorin Colorado:
  • Readworks:
  • ESL Games World:
  • Color-Coded Self-Assessment System
  • Clothes-Line Anchor Charts

Student-Friendly Rubric (ex: Writing Rubric 4th Grade)Student Friendly Rubric: Description and Reason:   This is a resource that I made for my students.  I created this student-friendly rubric because I feel like it gives students a better idea of what is expected of them.  I tried to take out as many of the extra words as possible.  This a resource that they keep next to them during writing and can use to self-assess their own work.  It has definitely eliminated the confusion about what is expected from them in each category.  I think it is especially beneficial for ESL students because it explicitly tells them what they need to do in each category in order to get a 4.

Student Friendly Rubric:

Student Friendly Rubric


Videos (ex: Let it Go/Theme Lesson Plan)

Video link:

Lesson Plan: Reading Workshop- Thursday

Aim: Readers learn life lessons by thinking about difficult decisions that those characters make during their time period.

Connection: Readers, we’ve been in our historical fiction book unit for some time now. You’ve been getting to know your time period, your characters, and your stories. I need you to think back to our last unit, interpretation book clubs. During this unit, we did a lot of work on finding themes.

What is a theme?

I’m going to show you a video to help you refresh your memory about finding themes. As you’re watching the video, think about what lesson we can learn from it and what it is teaching us.

STOP AT 2:37

Before we go any further I want to ask you:

What are some ways that you already know to determine the theme when reading? T&T

Well, those are all great strategies. Today, we’re going to use a different strategy to learn life lessons when reading.

Teach: Readers, today I am going to show you another way we can learn the theme or life lessons. Readers can learn life lessons by looking at the decisions a character makes.   This is a really important strategy when we’re reading historical fiction because we want to study our character and see what decisions they make during a stressful time. These decisions were difficult for them.

We are going to use a chart to help us think about our characters and organize our information so we can more clearly see the life lesson.

Character Character’s Decision Outcome (Result) Life Lesson (What this teaches me about life)

Model:  Today we are going to our Holocaust Book, The Hermonica, to interpret a lesson learned.  We are going to be focusing on the boy.

  • Teacher answers question about character decision:
  • What is a stressful decision the boy had to make in the book?
  • What was the outcome or result of his decision? (What happened?)
  • What lesson does this teach us about life? Use these prompts to help you speak. T&T
    • In life…
    • It is important to….
    • You should always….
    • Now I know that…..
Character Character’s Decision Outcome (Result) Life Lesson (What this teaches me about life)
The Boy Even though he is locked up in a concentration camp and his family died, he decides to keep playing the harmonica for the guards. The other prisoners say, “Bless You.” They are grateful. In life, hope can get you through tough times.

Active Engagement: Readers, I want you to practice using this strategy. You are going to try to do it with Rose Blanche. You are going to be focusing on the character, Rose With your partner don’t for get to:

  • Think of an important decision the character made.
  • Think of the outcome or result of that decision.
  • Think about what life lesson this teaches you.
  • Remember to use your prompts to help your discussion grow.
Character Character’s Decision Outcome (Result) Life Lesson (What this teaches me about life)
Rose Rose decides to sneak her own food and bring it to the Jewish people in the concentration camps. Rose feeds the prisoners but ends up shot. It is important to help others even if it’s not easy.




It’s important to always listen to your heart and do the right thing.


Link: What did we do today? How did we do it?

How does noticing character decisions help us learn life lessons? T&T


Mid-Workshop Interruption: Readers, you want to keep in mind that some books have common themes or life lessons.  Even though we are studying the Holocaust as a class, when you go back and read about your own time periods, there may be common themes or themes that are the same. As you read, try to make text-to-text connections to see how the characters actions differed, but how they ultimately reached the same life lesson.

Teaching Share: Readers, I hope some of you tried using this strategy today where you think about a difficult decision your character made, think about the outcome of this decision, and think about a life lesson you learned.

I want you to do a self-assessment. If you tried this strategy and think you did a good job, put your thumb up. If you tried this strategy and need some more work with it, give me the fix it sign. If you tried this strategy and it was tricky and you need a lot more help, give me a thumbs down.

Now I want you to assess your partner. With the person next to you, Partner 1 show them how you found the life lesson in your book. Remember to tell them what strategy you used. Ok, one minute for partner one. Ok, now switch. Partner 2 show them how you found the life lesson in your book. Remember to tell them what strategy you used

-What decision did you character make?

-What was the outcome?

-What lesson did this teach you? Why?

Share aloud

Description and Reason:   This is a lesson that I made for my students because I know that visuals are extremely helpful and many of them are interested in Frozen.  Using something that they were familiar with to introduce the lesson, gave them the pre-knowledge that was necessary for this lesson.  They were able to use what they knew about Frozen (and what they learned from the video) and apply it to the unit of study.  The visuals supported them and helped them generate life lessons.  I also like to include the use of graphic organizers within my lessons to help support them when they go back to their seats to work independently.

Game-Based Learning (ex: Candyland)

Description and Reason:   The students in my class love to play games so I try to use as many as I can to make learning engaging for them.  This is a printable Candyland game board, I also have a large Candyland board on a science board.  Based on the lessons, I make the game cards based on the content we are learning.  I make the game cards on index cards.  We use this a lot in math, for example, to review our basic multiplication facts.  We also use games a lot when learning about grammar.  This is an engaging way for students to learn and they like competing with one another to win.  It is a great resource to help ESL students collaborate with other students and practice listening and speaking.

Project Based Learning (Reading the Weather)

(This is a model from last year that I will use to show my class.)

project-based.jpgDescription and Reason: I try to incorporate Project Based Learning into my reading and writing units.  This is a great way for students to build content and language because they need to perform research in order to complete their projects.  Students are required to display their project through a print source (board, PowerPoint, etc.) and they are also required to use an arts approach (song, skit, art) to teach the class about their topics.  We also invite the parents to come and watch the presentations, which encourages students to do their best work because they want their parents to be proud of them.  This is a great way for ESL students to collaborate and work in groups to help develop their language skills.

Use of Explicit Checklists

Reading Word Problems Checklist (RUNS)

____ Read the problem.

____ Underline the important information

____ Name the problem type: “This is a __________________problem.”

____ Strategy Sentence: “I am going to use the ________ strategy    because_____________________.”

Revised Checklists (highlighted important parts):

Description and Reason: The first checklist is a checklist that I made to help my students with reading math word problems.  Checklists help my students complete various strategies in the correct order.  I also like to support my ESL students by providing them sentence stems on the checklists that they can use to help them complete their work.  The second checklist is a checklist with pictures that I highlighted so they know the important parts of each section.  I like to make checklists and revise them for my students because it explicitly tells them what to do for assignments.  It is a great tool for them to make sure they are doing their work correctly and self-assess themselves.

  • Imagine Learning

Description and Reason: Imagine Learning is a website that consists of over 4,300 engaging activities that teach critical language and literacy concepts such as reading and listening comprehension, basic vocabulary, academic language, grammar, phonological awareness, phonics, and fluency. Kids love the program because it’s fun and challenging. This program is differentiated, standards-aligned, rigorous, and effective.  ESL students are given a username and a password, so they can access the program in school and at home.  They are given at least two 20-minute periods a week to go on Imagine Learning and practice whatever skills they need support with.  They love it because they able to learn and have fun at the same time!

  • Folders for Mini-Charts with visuals (one side reading and writing, the other math for each chapter)

Description and Reason: I constantly provide my ELL students with mini-charts so they can use them as reference tools.  Last year, I kept finding them on the floor and then they were not useful.  I started a strict system with these folders so that students can keep their charts neat and so they are easily accessible when they need to refer to them.  For math, I give out a pack of mini-charts at the beginning of each chapter.  For reading and writing, I gave my students daily charts specific to the day’s lesson.  I love seeing my students take these out to refer to them when they are stuck when I may not be available right at that moment.  It is also great because they have a reminder of the lesson we did during the day when they go home.

Description and Reason:  This is a website that has many ELL resources separated by age.  It contains a lot of great resources for educators and families.  It includes articles about teaching ESL students, resources for families, literacy calendars, book recommendations, and so many more great resources.  I decided to include this because before I started my masters and did not know a lot about ESL students, I would use this to help educate myself on the topic.  I think it has a lot of great resources for teachers and also has a lot of resources for us to help parents of our ESL students.  I try to help my parents out as much as I can in ways such as providing resources and trying to find local programs at libraries for them.


Description and Reason: Readworks is a website that I started using years ago while I was completing my student teaching and didn’t always have access to a lot of books.  This website is free to join and has many fiction and non-fiction articles separated by grade level.  Each passage has comprehension questions attached to this.  I find these articles great for small group work or if students need extra practice and I can send it home as a study packet.  It is a good resource to have because sometimes we may forget to get a text ready and this is easily accessible.

ESL Games World:

Description and Reason:  This is a great resource for students to play games on the computer or IPAD.  This website has games on the website, downloadable games, printable games, PowerPoint games, and many great resources!  The games are separated by grade levels.  They offer a wide variety of games including math, reading, grammar, vocabulary, and much more.  This website offers a great way to engage students in learning.  I like using this in my classroom because I can easily differentiate the games based on what my students need support with and depending on their levels.  Students love playing these games and I can also help support their language development even more by having students collaborate in teams.

Color-Coded Self-Assessment System

Description and Reason: I think that it is important for students to self-assess themselves, so I have some practices in place to allow them to.  Students self-assess themselves many times a day using these assessment rings.  I also have a parking lot on my door where student place their exit tickets (post its) and self-assess themselves on the back of their post it notes.  I was a little hesitant at first, but my students are honest in their assessments and it is a benefit for me when deciding who to pull for small groups.  I also have checklists for math for each lesson where I assess students on 3 math problems and they are assigned a color: green, yellow, or red.  It is a great way for me to record student data and see where they are struggling in order for me to pull my small groups.

Clothes-Line Anchor Charts

Description and Reason: Anchor charts are a great resource for ESL students.  Since space in my classroom is limited, I decided to place clotheslines across the room.  I am able to hang about 30 anchor charts at a time which is a great resource for students.  They know that they are able to get up in order to see the charts and use it as a reference when they are doing independent work.  I also have all of these charts shrunk and laminated in a binder and have multiple copies for students to keep.  I have separate clotheslines for reading, writing, and math.  I think it is a great way to get the most beneficial use of anchor charts.



Author: drcowinj

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today,” determined Malcolm X at the O.A.A.U.’s [Organization of Afro-American Unity] founding forum at the Audubon Ballroom. (June 28, 1964). (X, n.d.) Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin a Fulbright Scholar, SIT Graduate, completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™) at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Cowin served as the President of the Rotary Club of New York and Assistant Governor for New York State; long-term Chair of the Rotary United Nations International Breakfast meetings; and works as an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Dr. Cowin has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur, and institutional leader with a focus on equity and access to digital literacy and education in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and technology innovation provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally. Dr. Cowin participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline as elected Vice President and Chair-Elect for the New York State, NYS TESOL organization, for the 2021 conference. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publications, presentations, and participation in academic conferences, blogging, and other scholarly activities, including public performances and exhibitions at conferences and workshops. Of particular interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education; Current Global Trends in TESOL; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English; E-learning; Micro and Macro-Methodologies in TESOL; E-Resources Discovery and Analysis; and Language Acquisition and the Oculus Rift in VR.

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