Instructional Supports

Instructional practices

LTELLs need a specific program of study that addresses any academic gaps as well as additional time to close these academic gaps and to develop their academic English language. Highly engaging instruction that:

  • Provides explicit language development, with a focus on comprehension, vocabulary development, and advanced grammatical structures needed to comprehend and produce academic language.
  • Promotes oral academic language development, especially in the academic uses of English, by reading plays, doing reader’s theater, and engaging in accountable talk.
  • Provides opportunities to write extensively on a variety of topics for a variety of purposes (e.g., authentic writing for authentic purposes, such as letters to legislators about a topic of interest)
  • Provides opportunities to read widely, with an emphasis on academic language and complex vocabulary.
  • Leverages students’ interests by choosing texts that are socially relevant and challenge students’ ideas about the world.
  • Focuses on active student engagement and accountable participation (e.g., Socratic Seminar, Scored Discussions, Poetry Slams, Collaborative Group Work).

Implementation options for schools

Collaborative Support: 

  • A language development specialist provides language instruction support to the content teacher and/or students.


  • Teacher-supported language development instruction provided before or after school and/or on Saturdays as an extra-curricular session.

Extended Day/Year: 

  • Teacher-supported language development rostered class that provides instruction through an extended day/year.

Strategic Master Schedule: 

  • Teacher-supported language development instruction.
    • Elementary-During guided reading.
    • Secondary-Elective credit-bearing semester course.

Quality teaching for English Language Learners

Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) supports English language learners and their teachers with a unique approach to engage and accelerate students’ academic literacy and content knowledge. The QTEL approach features high challenge and high support – for teachers as well as students. There are five principles that help us understand and define excellent teaching.

Quality Teaching for English Learners:

  • Sustain academic rigor in teaching English learners.
  • Hold high expectations in teaching English learners.
  • Engage English learners in quality teacher and student interactions.
  • Sustain a language focus in teaching English learners.
  • Develop a quality curriculum for teaching English learners.

Source: Walquí, A. & Van Lier, L. (2010). Scaffolding the academic success of adolescent English language learners: A pedagogy of promise. San Francisco, CA: WestEd

Structured Task Descriptions


Persuasion Across Time and Space

Built around a set of famous persuasive speeches, this high school unit supports students in reading a range of complex texts. It invites them to write and speak in a variety of ways and for different audiences and purposes. Download the full unit, student handouts, and guidelines.


These QTEL lessons and planning tools were designed by teachers in the San Diego Unified School District for Grades 3, 4, and 5.   The graphic organizers, rubrics, and guides were created for the three moments in a lesson.

Video: Three Moments in a Lesson

This two-minute video explains a Three Moments in a Lesson conceptual framework for planning a lesson and/or unit.

Supporting ELLs in Mathematics

Stanford University used or adapted tasks from publicly accessible curriculum projects for ELLs at three grade spans (elementary, middle, and high school).  Be sure to download the annotated math tasks and supplementary files at the bottom of the page.

5 Key Strategies for ELL Instruction

Dr. Rebecca Green, Senior Research Assistant for Stanford University, shares strategies that benefit ELL students.

Teacher Toolkit: English Language Learners

The Teaching Channel has a blog filled with great ideas from passionate educators of English language learners just like you. Let’s get better together!

50 Incredibly Useful Links for Learning & Teaching the English Language

TeachThought is dedicated to innovation in K-20 education. This blog has 50 useful links to reference tools and resources for LTELLs, newcomers, and General ELL students.

Project-based learning

Project-Based Learning offers rich learning opportunities for Long-Term English Language Learners.  Project-Based Learning (PBL) captures the excitement of learning with others through real, meaningful, interesting activities, and goes one step further by deliberately targeting skills, and then demonstrating the learning to others. Because good projects are driven and sustained by youth interests, the first phase of PBL requires teachers and mentors to plan to bring in student voice. Visit the links on Identifying LTELL Needs to get to know your students’ interests.

Project-Based Learning: Hands On, Minds On

The Y4Y online module includes four recorded webinars, podcasts, Webinar PowerPoints, and Resources.
Recorded Webinars and PowerPoints: Week 1: Designing and Developing, Week 2: Crafting a Driving Question, Week 3: Planning & Implementing, Week 4: Celebrating, Reflecting & Evaluating.
Podcasts: Week 1: Who are They?, Week 2: The 5 Es of Learning & Guiding Questions, Week 3 Creating and Using SMART Goals, Week 4: Bloom’s Taxonomy

You for Youth: Project-Based Learning

The Y4Y portal is filled with free resources on Project-Based Learning.  Find ready-to-use and customizable tools that can assist you in planning, implementing, and assessing Project-Based Learning projects. Learn how to design hands-on projects, keep projects student-centered, sustain a project over time, and how to document the project’s progress.

Buck Institute for Education: Resources on PBL

The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) shows teachers how to use Project-Based Learning in all grade levels and subject areas. BIE assembled a wide array of PBL-related resources such as Curriculum, Student Handouts, Planning Forms, Rubrics, Webinars, Recorded Google Hangouts, Live Twitter Chats, Online Tools, and more.

Project Search on BIE

The projects you will find here have been curated by BIE and were gathered from online project libraries. There are a total of 568 resources. If any of the links do not work go directly to the organization’s website.These projects are meant to inspire your own ideas or may be adapted to fit the needs of your classroom.

English Learner Scaffolds for PBL

The English Learner Scaffolds for PBL document provides strategies and recommendations to support English Learners during each phase of a project. It includes guidance on scaffolding the project process, content learning, and language development. The recommendations here align with the planned scaffolding strategies from the Theoretical Foundations and Research Base for California’s English Language Development Standards, provided at the end of this document.

Resource List: English Learners in PBL

At the ASCD annual conference in Anaheim, CA on March 27, 2017 the Buck Institute’s Gina Olabuenaga and John Larmer presented a session on equity and PBL, specifically how to support English learners during a project. Along with basic information about BIE’s model for Gold Standard PBL, they shared this resource list with participants.

Using Project-Based Learning to Engage Parents in the School Community

Project-based learning (PBL) is a fantastic way to increase parent and community involvement in your school in a truly authentic way. Instead of finding lots of little strategies to engage parents, PBL provides an opportunity to use one part of your school identity, the curriculum and instruction, as the leverage to have parents present at the physical space. Here are some tips and strategies on how to use PBL to increase parental involvement.

Top Project Based Learning Ideas and Lesson Plans You Will Find on the Web

Check it out! Project-Based Learning ideas and lesson plans for elementary, middle and high school.

The PBL Super Highway … Over 45 Links to Great Project Based Learning

Are you on a journey to find great PBL ideas? Then you have come to the right place. In fact, you just might want to spend some time here and also continue to come back. The first of this list includes sites that have created data bases of PBL Units. You will find units that you can use, improve, or incorporate as a base.

Exemplary Unit and Lesson Plans for K-12 Educators

Developed by teachers, explore this collection of teaching ideas that showcase integration of technology into classroom project for all ages and most subjects.

Pick a PBL Project to customize and implement with your students.

PBL Gallery

Draw from the many resources from Michigan to support your needs.  An annotated bibliography, Word Template, Excel Template, PBL examples, articles, and organizational websites are provided.

PBL Resources from Michigan

Draw from the many resources from Michigan to support your needs.  An annotated bibliography, Word Template, Excel Template, PBL examples, articles, and organizational websites are provided.

PBL Tools from West Virginia

Draw from the many resources from Michigan to support your needs.  An annotated bibliography, Word Template, Excel Template, PBL examples, articles, and organizational websites are provided.

Teach21 Project-Based Learning: West Virginia Department of Education

The Project-Based Learning designs on this website were created by West Virginia teachers who worked with the WVDE Office of Instruction through participation in the Teacher Leadership Institute, the Secondary PBL project, content-specific professional development in mathematics, and the Model Schools and Classrooms project.