How Important is your Daily Routine to your Newcomer?

communicationfolder4An important first step in designing an inclusive classroom is to critically analyze your students’ daily routine. This includes access to instructional materials.

Here are some reflection questions:

  • Is the material I am giving my student representative of their language proficiency level?
  • Will the diverse language abilities and cultures represented in my classroom be able to follow this anchor chart, worksheet, assessment, homework, classroom assignment or communication note that is being sent home?

Research has shown that students’ development of knowledge and perceptions of both themselves and others is significantly affected by the classroom instructional materials they encounter (Hirschfelder, 1982); this is especially true for EL students and others who might also be navigating the acculturation process at the same time (Ndura, 2004).

You can help your newcomer assimilate into the classroom routine by:

  • Providing your newcomer with all resources available to other students, name tag, home communication folder and such.
  • Assigning a buddy (preferably a student who speaks the newcomer’s language).
  • Including your newcomer in all classroom routines by planning cooperative learning opportunities whereby the newcomer has a role.
  • Scaffolding classroom expectations and assignments to align to what your student “can do.”
  • Modifying or accommodating all assessments. (See your ESOL specialist on how to begin this process.)

Classroom Routines

Your newcomer can participate in all classroom activities. In fact, he or she is keenly aware of everything that is happening in the classroom and will mimic the actions of others. For this reason, be sure to be consistent with daily routines and resources. Assign your newcomer a task of copying, matching pictures, tracing, being the timekeeper during group work or drawing. There are numerous activities he or she can do. Using the Blooms Taxonomy Chart, look at DOK level one. Then assign a language objective that meets the needs of your standard or assignment goal. Give your newcomer a task that fits both the verb from the DOK chart as well as the lesson objective. Be sure to scaffold the student with pictures, manipulatives or graphic organizers.  If you need help getting started, contact your ESOL specialist.

Home/School Connections

Be observant of what materials you are sending home. How much English is read at home? Important materials can be translated into the family’s native language.

Is your student’s home communication folder clearly labeled? By marking each side of the folder KEEP AT HOME and RETURN TO SCHOOL you will be helping the family understand what is expected of the home/school materials.


All students should receive formative and summative assessments. See your ESOL specialist for tips on modifying and accommodating assessments based on your students “can do” level of proficiency.

Want to learn more? Check out this list of the top 14 principles for ELL instruction in the mainstream classroom.

What teachers should know about instruction for ELLs