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.

 

Linking Bloom’s Taxonomy and Technology!

Back in1956, Benjamin Bloom, along with other psychologists and educators, created a system of categorizing educational goals. Updated in 2001, this framework, consisting of six categories, has been applied by teachers and college instructors for decades now. It is organized from simple to complex, and concrete to abstract. It helps the teacher see where the student is, and what the expectations are for the next level. Bloom’s can help you, the teacher, write learning objectives and assess student learning.

Now, imagine connecting Bloom’s Taxonomy with modern day apps, websites, and technology! It has been done, and it’s called The Padagogy Wheel! And, it’s a beautiful thing! The Padagogy Wheel links apps/technology to these five categories:

  • Remember/Understand
  • Apply
  • Analyze
  • Evaluate
  • Create

There have been several iterations of the wheel over recent time, so make sure you are reading the most up-to-date version, which is V4.1.  Here’s the link (printable poster):  http://designingoutcomes.com/moodle/padwheel/padwheelposter.pdf

The creator of the Padagogy Wheel, Allan Carrington, educator, “techie”, and Apple fan, has an informative youtube video that explains the origins and early versions of the wheel.

And lastly, for all things Padagogy, go to The Padagogy Wheelhouse at: http://padagogy.net/?p=324#comment-3587

After you have visited the sites, let me know your thoughts about the Padagogy Wheel! How can it help you?

Teaching Vocabulary to Lower Level Learners

The New American Horizons organization is a wealth of resources for ESL teachers. They have multiple videos for ESL teachers that demonstrate teaching techniques and tips. Today we’re going to focus on vocabulary instruction for lower level students. There is a link to a video included in this post at the bottom of the page.

Some key points from the video:

TPR is a great way to introduce vocabulary! Why? It includes multiple skills and senses, such as watching, touching, speaking, and listening.

Teach the vocabulary in context.

  • Begin with explicit instruction.
  • Recycle the vocabulary through diverse activities.
  • Use the vocabulary in new ways.
  • Connect the new vocabulary to real life.

Questions that come up during the lesson.

  • If they are related to the current lesson, then deal with them at that moment.
  • If they are not related to the subject, address them later. (For unrelated questions, I usually have a “parking lot” list for things to address after the lesson.)

Classroom routines are important to support learning. Use the same games and activities for each lesson.  Students focus on vocabulary practice rather than learning a new game.  Use these activities to assess learning and where the gaps are. For example, students might be able to identify a word on the page, but can they spell it, or actually use the word?

Examples from the video:

  • Bingo-play first with pictures to associate the sound/picture relationship, and then next, with words.
  • Spelling activity-teacher dictates, students listen and use letter tiles to spell the word
  • Line up activities (by alphabetical order, birth date, etc.

Use the different activities to assess learning and where the gaps in learning are.  For example, the students may be able to identify a word, but can they spell it, or use it?  Watch this video for more details!

http://www.newamericanhorizons.org/training-videos