English Language Learners

Support English Language Learners with High-Interest, Low-Anxiety Decodables!
Watch the main video here to discover more about LightSail's transformative approach!

For research-backed pedagogy, download our brochure!
Traditional decodable collections are written for emerging readers in elementary school - nothing is more embarrassing than handing a “baby book” to an English Language Learner. This places the burden on ESL/ELL and English teachers to not only identify and adapt to English language proficiency, but also support these students in the acquisition of content-area knowledge while being sensitive to culture and native language strengths.

LightSail simplifies this process by empowering teachers to provide students with high-interest, engaging, culturally-relevant decodables specifically written for ELLs, with scaffolded, content-rich vocabulary and simple sentence structure in an article format supported by audio and visual tools.

The Decodables+ Collection by LightSail combines a 40% focus on conceptual words with high-frequency sight words and scaffolded SuperStar words, encouraging students to employ the skills they have gained through classroom instruction.
Why LightSail Decodables+ ELL Articles for your teachers & students?
Grounded in Science of Reading Research
The collection follows a dynamic and systematic Scope & Sequence that can easily be aligned with your school’s structured literacy program for easy identification of conceptual gaps and prescription of corresponding book collections.
Read our Pedagogy Document!
Culturally-Relevant Images & Content
The collection offers captivating and culturally-relevant images paired with non-fiction content & poetry. With high-interest material, it ensures a rich and engaging reading experience.
Teacher Resources for Efficient Learning
Teacher resources help identify concepts, provide background knowledge, check for understanding, access higher-order thinking skills, and include extension activities to spark teachers’ imagination.
Differentiate Instruction without the Work
LightSail’s High-Interest Articles allow teachers to differentiate instruction to fill gaps and balance formative assessments with audio recordings of students and digital interaction.
How Do High-Interest Articles Compare with ELL Articles?
Decodables+ High-Interest Articles
Book name: Reptiles as Pets
Decodables+ High-Interest Articles
Book name: Rock 'n' Roll Tempos
Decodables+ High-Interest Articles
Decodables+ High-Interest ELL Articles
Book name: Reptiles as Pets
Decodables+ High-Interest ELL Articles
Book name: Rock 'n' Roll Tempos
Decodables+ High-Interest Articles
Wide range of relevant, high-interest non-fiction topics & poetry.
Each article corresponds with a phoneme or concept on one step of the Pacing Guide.
Review Collection at the end of a Concept Collection combines concepts to encourage mastery.
Student answers the pre-assessment background knowledge questions before & after reading.
Access to multiple tools to support the reading process, including Pronunciation+ & Action Clips.
How LightSail Supports the Science of Reading Research
LightSail makes it easy for teachers to differentiate instruction
while staying aligned to the Science of Reading Research.
Support the 5 Pillars of Reading with LightSail’s Decodables+ High-Interest Article Collection!
Specific Concept-Building Focus
  • Focus Words for specific phonics concept reinforcement in every book
  • Author-A-Book encourages vocabulary usage in written language
Pronunciation+ Human Audio Support
  • “Decode” tool to breakdown syllables within the decodables
  • Authentic pronunciation of Focus, Sight, & SuperStar Words
  • Audio support within every assessment
Running Record & Read Aloud
  • Read-Aloud and Retelling modules with easy-to-grade options
  • Fluency support with tracked Running Record
  • Systematic tracking of data over time for easy recordkeeping
Systematic Phonics Support to Bridge Gaps by Concept
  • Decodables+ Concept Book Collections for specific concept practice
  • Week-by-week Pacing Guide for SoR Pathway support
  • Systematic Scope & Sequence matching K-3 Phonemic Concepts
SuperStar Words
  • Support vocabulary development beyond focus words
  • Encourages application of learned phonics rules to unknown words
  • Scaffold to future phonemic concepts within the Decodables+ Collection
Decodables+ High-Interest & ELL Collections
  • High-interest decodable articles broken into specific Concept Collections for systematic phonics practice post-explicit classroom instruction
  • Empower student choice with book selection per Concept Collection
  • Primarily non-fiction & poetry options in diverse, culturallyrelevant, high-interest topics
  • Rich, diverse, relevant illustrations without heavy cues
Embedded Assessments
  • Spelling Bee module for orthographic mapping support
  • Literal and Inferential comprehension questions with suggested answers for easy grading & data-tracking
  • Dictation module for speak-listen-write practice
  • Multimedia Writing modules like Author a Book to encourage creativity & application of learned concepts
Background Knowledge Checks
  • ‘Provoking Question’ before reading to elicit background knowledge
  • Informal pre- & post-assessments for conceptual development
  • Data tracking based on student response to assess background knowledge growth with each book
In-Depth Data Tracking for Mastery Assessment
  • Detailed data from grade to class to student to concept to book
  • Heat-mapped reports to assist in Literacy Team & Parent meetings
Read outside-the-box with LightSail’s Decodables+ today!
Pronunciation+ & Breakdown Tools
for Independent Decoding -
in school, on the bus, at home, or
anywhere they go.
library tablet
Embedded Action Clips Support
Background Knowledge Acquisition!
Ready to partner with us?
Collaborate with our product team and explore the possibilities
of using LightSail Decodables+ with your teachers and students.
Request a demo today!
Meet our Decodables+ Team
Heidi Lario, M.A.T.
ESL & HS English Teacher
Heidi has been teaching English for over 15 years at the middle school and high school levels. She holds several state certifications including English as a Second Language. Heidi has helped hundreds of students improve their English proficiency levels through engaging lessons, activities, and real-world applications. She was recently just nominated as the 2023 Texas Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award.

Over the course of her career, Heidi has worked in different school settings. Currently she teaches in a large district that serves students with over 50 different native languages. Her classroom is made up of students whose proficiency levels range from intermediate to native speakers. Heidi also has experience providing ESL instructions to newcomers and beginning-level students.

One challenge that Heidi and other ESL instructors have described is managing the varied language proficiency levels in a shared classroom. With limited time and resources, it can be a significant challenge to develop interventions that effectively meet the needs and proficiency levels of emergent bilingual students. LightSail’s Decodables+ offers a science-based approach to reading with lessons scaffolded in such a way that students will improve in their speaking, reading, and writing. LightSail’s Decodables+ meets students where they are at their unique proficiency level and is not another one-size-fits-all approach to ESL instruction and intervention.

Heidi notes, "LightSail’s Decodables+ is a tool for both students and teachers. The interventions are individualized and focused on a single skill. This lets teachers immediately assess if the student is ready to move on. Likewise, because the materials are already prepared, teachers have more time to do what we love: provide one-on-one, individualized instruction for their students."
Katherine Nelson, M.S.Ed., TESOL & Literacy
Early Literacy & TESOL Specialist
With over fourteen years of experience working with English Language Learners (ELLs), Katherine is passionate about helping all students develop literacy and language skills. Katherine began her career as a New York City Teaching Fellow in the Bronx, working with emergent bilingual students who spoke Spanish at home. Later, Katherine returned to the diverse school district she attended as a child, teaching students from more than 40 language backgrounds. In addition to her classroom experience, Katherine holds a Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), and a second Masters degree in Literacy Coaching and Instruction. Since 2019, Katherine has worked as an author, editor, and curriculum developer for educational publishers and EdTech companies focusing on early literacy and English language acquisition.

Katherine is thrilled to join LightSail Education’s ELL Team. As a former teacher, Katherine understands the importance of matching ELLs with texts that provide the right mix of challenges, supports, and scaffolds. Katherine explains, "For ELLs, these texts are essential for supporting both language comprehension and reading skills." Katherine is excited to leverage her expertise to craft engaging materials that help ELLs simultaneously develop early reading skills, English proficiency, and a lifelong love of learning.
Eliza Piaquadio, M.S.Ed.
Reading Interventionist
Eliza Piaquadio, M.S.Ed., earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish from Central Washington University. Driven by a commitment to lifelong learning, she pursued a master’s degree in Educating Non-native English Speakers: Leadership, Research, and Professional Practice from Seattle University. Eliza’s teaching journey began at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington, where she worked extensively with adult English Language Learners.

Transitioning to the elementary classroom, Eliza served as a K-2nd grade reading interventionist and later as a Kindergarten teacher for just shy of a decade. Her school, situated in one of the most linguistically diverse districts in the country, provided a unique setting for her contributions. Eliza played a pivotal role in the pilot team for her school’s implementation of translanguaging pedagogies—an additive approach to language acquisition. Translanguaging practices allow students to utilize all their language skills without imposing artificial boundaries between the languages they know or are learning. By embracing translanguaging and encouraging the use of native languages to understand English language learning, students full range of language abilities are honored, empowering bilingual students to actively participate in the learning process.

In 2021, she expanded her impact beyond the classroom by contributing to an established Spanish language instruction curriculum. Her responsibilities included revising and adapting the curriculum to enhance engagement in virtual learning environments. Eliza’s favorite aspect of teaching Kindergarten students lies in their boundless eagerness to learn and their remarkable willingness to make mistakes. Her classroom environments consistently foster growth mindsets, encouraging students to view mistakes as integral to the learning process. Recognizing the importance of maintaining a low affective filter in language learning, Eliza draws on her own experiences as a latecomer to a second language. This commitment to creating supportive environments aligns seamlessly with her dedication to the Decodables+ project.

The Decodables+ project encapsulates Eliza’s belief in the importance of keeping affective filters low in language learning environments. Understanding the challenges posed by traditional decodable collections for English Language Learners, Eliza sees Decodables+ by LightSail as a transformative solution. The scaffolded approach to language learning and the thoughtful choice to format decodable text as high-interest articles are what motivated Eliza to contribute to this project. This initiative not only enhances the English language learning of students who are often overlooked in the realm of engaging ELL resources but also honors their integrity as young adult learners.
Ruth C. Evans, M.S.Ed., CAGS
Reading & Sheltered Immersion Specialist Specialist
Ruth C. Evans, M.Ed., CAGS, holds a dual Master’s degree in Elementary Education and as a Specialist Teacher in Reading (K-12) from Lesley University, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Administrative Leadership from Salem State University. Additionally, she has received the Sheltered English Immersion teacher endorsement through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Ruth has spent the past eleven years dedicated to urban education, working as both a classroom teacher and Literacy Coach. She currently serves as a Literacy Coach at the Beachmont Veterans Memorial School in Revere, MA, where 70% of the student population speaks a first language other than English. Her work is devoted to ensuring that all of students, especially the struggling readers, receive the support they need to become fluent readers.

Ruth is excited to collaborate with LightSail on providing high-quality, decodable texts geared for English Language Learners. There is an exceptional need for these resources. As students learn to read in English, Ruth says they deserve to read texts with engaging content. The best aspect of the Decodables+ texts, in Ruth’s opinion, is that they provide explicit reinforcement of key phonics skills while not being de-motivating for readers.
Erin E. Hubbard, M.S.Ed.
EdTech & Instructional Design Specialist
Team Lead
Erin E. Hubbard, M.S.Ed., received two bachelor’s degrees in English Education and Spanish Education from the Robert E. Cook Honors College at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She also earned her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion Univerisity, with a specialization in Library & Media Sciences. Erin worked for a decade in the public education sector as a teacher and coach, served as a Teacher/Consultant for the Northern Virginia Writing Project, president of the non-profit Project Write, Inc., and then transitioned to educational consulting in 2010, specifically in the field of educational technology, where she currently runs her own small business. She’s also served as a ghostwriter, project manager, graphic designer, content creator, video designer & editor, and other roles in LightSail and for other clients. Erin has worked with LightSail for several years as an integral part of its pedagogical team serving as team lead for several LightSail projects, including Team Lead of the Decodables+ Collection. Recently, Erin has joined the MindPlay Education team as an Instructional Design Specialist.

Erin’s conception of the Decodables+ project has been integral to the design and structure, as she saw a need in the education of her own children. “A major gap exists between explicit instruction of concepts guided by the Science of Reading research and the books that sit on home, school, and public library shelves. If kids aren’t excited to read the first books placed in their hands or aren’t successful in the process, we stifle their progress. Decodables+ bridges that gap, moving a step beyond the explicit classroom instruction of the teacher or homeschooling parent, and enables students to practice those concepts in preparation for reading more advanced leveled readers without decodable concepts and other books just waiting for their imaginations on the library shelves. In addition, NOTHING exists for middle and high school students who have gaps in their learning-to-read process. As a former high school teacher, I’ve seen illiteracy at its worst, and LightSail’s D+ High-Interest Articles for middle and high school students will help fill in those gaps, connect the bridges, and prepare students for their futures.”
Maureen A. Nisch, M.A.
Reading Specialist & Interventionist
Maureen A. Nisch, M.A., is a clinically trained Reading Specialist who specializes in working with students with language-based learning differences including dyslexia, hyperlexia, and executive function challenges. She received her undergraduate degree from Radford University in Radford, Virginia with a degree in English Education. She began her career as a high school English teacher in Wythe County, Virginia. During that time she attended graduate school in the summers and completed her first master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City in the Teaching of English. Concerned that a handful of her students demonstrated behaviors of undiagnosed learning disabilities, Maureen made it her mission to seek out additional higher education to better serve her students. She received her second master’s degree in the Reading Specialist Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Upon completion, Maureen spent twelve years at Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, Connecticut where she was masterfully trained in multi-sensory remedial reading and language instruction for students with language-based learning differences. Maureen was a guest lecturer at Teachers College for the Reading Specialist practicum courses for eight years and has given numerous presentations related to literacy instruction at both the Leaning Disabilities of America and the National Council for the Teachers of English national conferences. Nearing two decades of educational field work Maureen has taught elementary, middle, and high school students remedial reading and study skills using systematic research-based approaches in public, private, and non-profit educational settings.

Maureen’s contribution to the Decodables+ project stems from her experience of working closely with struggling readers. Understanding that efficient reading instruction needs to be systematic and explicit, she approaches the project with the mindset that language should be scaffolded and practiced daily to not only apply language-based rules to written text but to build confidence in a student’s self-esteem as it relates to decoding and becoming fluent with written text. As a secondary reading specialist, Maureen witnessed firsthand a lack of texts for her students that combined the essence of a decodable’s predictable language structure and the appeal of a high-interest topic often seen in less controlled texts. In addition, Maureen understands that one of the biggest challenges a secondary reading specialist faces is the need to individualize for student learning gaps. The Decodables+ project is a platform that not only allows teachers to customize and individualize the pacing guide to adhere to SoR techniques of their choice but also offers the flexibility to reach a wide variety of learning styles. The platform will allow for best practices related to diagnostic teaching and ongoing assessments on a week-by-week basis. Maureen is excited to see the Decodables+ project revolutionize the teaching of the reading community by not only maximizing instruction but also offering meaningful texts that both students and teachers love.
For research-backed pedagogy, download our brochure!