Student Literature Strategies

Student LiteratureHere you will find some student literature strategies to help with ESOL students.

Be careful when looking at each strategy as they could vary on grade level. All can be adapted to fit any grade level.



The ESOL Performance Standards that are covered in these strategies are:

ELD.K12.ELL.LA.1-English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Language Arts.

ELD.K12.ELL.SI.1-English language learners communicate for social and instructional purposes within the school setting.



  1. Bilingual Books and Labels: Supporting Biliteracy Awareness (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Creating a Bilingual Book
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Respond appropriately to nonverbal cues.
      • Use acceptable tone, volume, and intonation in a variety of settings.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.W.3.7-Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of “how-to” books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions).
    • For this strategy, I would start off by exposing the students to many different bilingual books and having a class discussion about them. In the class discussion, the teacher should guide the discussion to discuss similarities and differences in bilingual books and other books they have read in the classroom and also explain what makes a book bilingual. Once the class has a better understanding of what a bilingual book, the class will be split up into groups of 2-4 students. Each group will be in charge of creating their own bilingual book to share with the class. Each group should have a student whose native language is not English. The purpose of this strategy is to allow the students who do not speak English to share with others about their native language and for the English students to help them get the story into English as well. This strategy will take a few days. Students should be encouraged to illustrate their books and the book should include both the English text and the text of the other language of the student. The books will then be shared with the class so the students are exposed to the diversity in the classroom.
    • The teacher definitely needs to model how to create a book before the students start working on their own books. The teacher needs to model where the writing should be placed, both the English text and the other language, and how to illustrate. The teacher should also guide on what the students are to write about but still allowing them to have some freedom to keep them interested. The teacher also needs to monitor the groups to make sure there is equal participation.
    • This strategy allows for ELLs to feel comfortable writing as they are getting to write in their native language. It also allows for a more positive atmosphere in the classroom for the ELLs and the English students are able to value other cultures and languages through this experience. By allowing ELLs to work in their native language, it will hopefully play into their learning of English as well.
    • List of Bilingual Books Website:
  2. Story Reenactment: Making Stories Come to Life! (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    •  Grade: 1st grade
      • Popsicle Stick Puppets
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use props and book language to retell a story.
      • Generate a list and make props to support story reenactment.
    • Common Core Standards:
      • LAFS.1.RL.1.2-Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
    • For this strategy, I would start off by reading the book, “Not Now,” Said the Cow by Joanne Oppenheim. I would probably read this aloud to my students in the beginning of the week and then have them read it independently as well. I would then read it one more time before I explain the lesson. After I have read the book, I would tell the class that we are going to be creating props to help us better understand the book. We will be making character puppets with popsicle sticks that have their “catch phrase” on them. Students can then create other props they think necessary to the story. Once all the props are made, the students will be asked to retell the story to me. This can be done in groups, independently, or as a whole class. If you suspect a student is struggling with understanding a story, I would have them retell the story to you one-on-one with the props to see where they are struggling. The story retellings can take place more than once to see if the students remember the story by using the props.
    • This should be a fun strategy for the students are they are getting the chance to bring the book to life. The teacher needs to make sure that they are guiding the students and modeling when needed. The teacher might even model what a retelling looks like before having the students work on their props. You don’t want the students making props that will be useless, so it is important to pick out the main details in the story.
    • For ELLs, this strategy allows them to have an even better visual of the story which will aid them in their comprehension and retelling. This increased interaction with story plot only benefits the stu
      dents.Not Now Said the Cow
  3. Repetition and Innovation: Exploring a Book to Deepen Comprehension (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • How many times can you give a mouse a cookie?
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Illustrate the main events in the story.
      • Write an alternate ending to a familiar story.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.RL.1.3-Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
    • For this strategy, students will be focusing on the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff as it is a repetitive book and easier to follow. The purpose of this strategy is to use the book in a variety of ways with a variety of activities to reinforce understanding and the gradual integration of the text’s vocabulary and concepts into the speaking and writing vocabulary of the students. The teacher should read the book to the class a number of times and have a whole class discussion about the book. For the rest of the week, there will be different centers that have activities that focus on the book. The teacher will model each activity before students break off into their groups to work. Students will then go about the room throughout the week to complete the different activities on the book. At the end, each student should have a portfolio specific to the book and should be able to present it if asked.
    • The teacher will definitely need to make sure that he/she is keeping a close eye on the classroom management as students will all be working on different things. The teacher needs to check in with each student to make sure they are on track and understanding. At the end of each day, the students will be given the opportunity to discuss their work with their group to gain different perspectives of the activity they did.
    • By having stations, it allows for the students to complete many different innovations on the book to strengthen their understanding. It also allows for a variety of instruction to keep the child’s attention. For ELLs, this strategy is good as it doesn’t require them to understand just one way but rather find out which way best helps them. Also since it is in groups, they will have classmates to help them. Most of the activities will also produce a visual for them.activities
  4.  Predictable Routines and Signals: Reducing Anxiety (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • “Buying” Books
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Restate information given.
      • Give or ask for permission.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.RF.1.1-Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
    • This strategy involves creating a routine that is familiar with the students that allows them to feel more comfortable in the classroom. To relate this to student literature, students when they finish work early have the opportunity to “buy” books in the classroom library. This means that they are able to select books they want to read to keep in their book basket at their desk to read during silent reading.
    • This strategy gives the students something to do when they finish their work and allows them to gain interest in books by getting to choose books they want to read. The teacher should make sure that the students have access to a wide variety of books.
    • ELLs will benefit from this strategy as it allows them to use their own interests to pick our reading material. It will also hopefully allow the students to gain more interest in books and make them want to read.
    • http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/classroom-management-reading-workshoplibrary
  5. Close Reading: Engaging with Text to Improve Reading Comprehension (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Close Reading
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Orally describe personal experiences related to a text.
      • Use words from books read in oral and/or written communications.
      • Use a balance of strategies to explore the meanings of unknown words.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.RL.1.3-Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
    • Close reading requires students to be engaged with the text. The student doesn’t just simply read the text but interacts with it to gain a better understanding.
    • The teacher can provide checklists for the students and different activities for the students to do where they are having to engage with the text more. The teacher also needs to teach different techniques so the students know how to be a better reader.
    • ELLs benefit from this strategy as they are being taught how to read a text to understand it. They are being given different tools to enhance their reading experience.
    • https://www.youtube.com/embed/iFDyv4wzE9s“>Cool Anchor Charts for the ClassroomCR
  6. Learning Centers: Extending Learning through Hands-On Practice (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Learning Centers
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Follow modeled oral directions to participate successfully in learning centers.
      • Ask for assistance from peers to succeed at the learning center task.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.SL.2.6-Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.
    • Learning centers are different places or stations in the classroom where the students are engaged in hands-on activities that either add an additional skill or expand on a certain skill. These centers are also great for students to work cooperatively with other students. Learning centers are a great way to differentiate the instruction and are powerful in engaging students while they practice the new skills they are gaining. English Language Learners benefit from learning centers in that they can use more of a hands-on approach and can work with others when help is needed. It is very important though that the teacher is well prepared with their centers and that every center has a clear and attainable goal for all students.
    • Learning centers are ways for students to have multiple experiences in the classroom by  moving from center to center. One cool thing to do with learning centers is to focus them around a book that has been read and at each center have a different activity to be done that relates to the book. This way students are being exposed to many different activities on the same book which will enhance their understanding of that book.
    • ELLs benefit from centers as they are able to interact with their peers and learn more about the book through a variety of activities.
    • http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/new-approach-learning-centersliteracy
  7. Cooperative Learning: Group Interactions to Accomplish Goals (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Book Identity
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use social language to request information.
      • Follow rules to interact in a small-group setting.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.SL.1.1-Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
    • For this strategy, students work together to create a logo for a book that has been read in the class.
  8. Read-a-Thon: Read it On!
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Focus on Literature
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Participate in whole class reading.
      • Engage in silent reading.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.RL.4.10-With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.
    • Get students interested in reading by hosting a day that is dedicated to reading. Allow students to bring in their own books and come in their PJs. Invite parents and try to make it a school wide event. Encourage good reading habits and closely monitor the classroom. Have activities where the students stop reading to do something with what they are reading.
    • http://www.edutopia.org/blog/cultivating-love-reading-students-elena-aguilar
  9. Book Talks and Picture Walks: Get Interested
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Gaining Interest
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Engage in discussions about books.
      • Express interest in specific books.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.RL.3.7-Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
    • The picture walk is a simple pre-reading activity that allows the students to gain interest in the book by looking through the pictures. The student looks at the pictures to see what they might think the story will be about. They go through each picture and make a comment on what is going on. By the time they finish, they should have a good idea of what the story is going to be able before they read.
    • The teacher should make sure to have questions ready to ask the students as they do a picture walk to guide them. ELLs will benefit from this activity as they will be able to have a good idea of what the story is about before they start reading.
    • http://readingtokids.org/ReadingClubs/TipPictureWalk.php
  10. Small Groups and Partners: Interactions to Enhance Instruction (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Peer Tutoring
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use gestures to ascertain the location of items in the classroom.
      • Use simple questions to elicit information needed.
      • Express needs and ideas.
      • Engage in verbal interaction in English.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • LAFS.1.SL.1.1-Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
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