Multilevel ESL Classes and Differentiated Instruction

Students come into our classrooms with varied levels of knowledge, experience, and motivation. With differentiated instruction, the teacher plans and carries out varied levels of instruction in response to this variety of needs.

What is Differentiated Instruction?

And, for those who want to read a little more, here’s an interview with one of the “gurus” of DI, Carol Ann Tomlinson.  http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2008/09/10/01tomlinson.h02.html

Much of the research and information about differentiated instruction centers around K-12 education. However, many of the recommendations are applicable to the adult ESL classroom.

In summary, there are two key points about differentiated instruction:

  1. Teacher uses a variety of instructional methods and activities to meet the needs of all of the students.
  2. Teacher uses a variety of assessments to evaluate knowledge, instruction, and learning.

Here are some links that include academic research, classroom strategies, and approaches, specific to ESL.

http://iteslj.org/Techniques/DelliCarpini-RoundRobin.html  (w/lesson plan idea)

http://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Specialist-Councils/ESL-3-5%20Differentiating%20Instruction.pdf

http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/differentiated-instruction-english-language-learners

This link has specific recommendations for differentiated instruction in the classroom. Although it is geared toward K-12 education, the activities and ideas are applicable to the adult classroom.

http://www.teachersfirst.com/content/esl/adaptstrat.cfm#readlit

The Core Tenets of Differentiated Instruction https://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet/TabId/270/ArtMID/888/ArticleID/350/Differentiating-Instruction-for-ELLs.aspx

Differentiated Instruction for the English Language Learner: Strategies for the Secondary Teacher http://journals.library.wisc.edu/index.php/wej/article/viewFile/378/479

This article obviously is targeted towards  the secondary level teacher, but there are many strategies included here that apply to adult learners. It includes specific examples of differentiated activities.

More learning strategies.. https://elt-resourceful.com/2012/02/17/ideas-for-providing-differentiation-that-dont-involve-writing-different-materials-and-a-different-plan-for-each-student-in-the-class-2/

Differentiating Reading and Writing Strategies for the Classroom

  • shorten a lengthy text
  • Provide visuals along with the text
  • Simplify text
  • Write words instead of complete sentences
  • Write a fewer number of sentences
  • Create an illustration to demonstrate comprehension
  • Use a word bank for cloze activities
  • For a dictation activity, (lower level), have students write the beginning letter of the word, while the higher level students write the complete word

 Differentiated Learning Stations

  • Open ended activity. Example: Students draw a picture to illustrate a story. Beginners can write key words, other students can write sentences. The video demonstrates using thought bubbles for this activity.
  • From simple to complex. For example, in the Memory Game, the higher students use vocabulary words, while the beginner students use pictures and letters.
  • Students choose the activity.

 

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