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How do we engage our diverse spectrum of learners while also supporting and challenging each individual? This hands-on, three-part, face-to-face workshop will explore techniques for differentiating instruction in adult ESOL classes.


    This professional development activity/course is designed for:

  • Novice and experienced ESOL teachers whose students possess a wide variety of skills, experience, and educational and linguistic backgrounds

The magic and challenge of teaching English to adults comes from the diversity of our learners. Individuals of every age, education level, linguistic background, migration path, and learning goal convene in our classes to improve their English skills. How can we meet their needs?

This three-part course acknowledges the complexity and challenges of teaching diverse learners and will provide tools for effective instructional practice. The workshop focuses on three arenas of classroom learning: individual, group, and whole-class.

You will consider who your students are, then explore classroom systems, tools, and activities that support whole-class learning while engaging and challenging each individual student. After the first two sessions, you will try out an activity or technique in your classroom, adapt as needed. In the third session share observations and problem-solve with the group. 

The guiding questions for the course are:

  • Who are the learners in your classes? Why is this the most important question for teachers to ask?
  • What organization systems and learning routines allow for individual differentiation while also preserving class cohesion?
  • What scaffolding principles should you consistently implement in whole-class activities in order to engage and support learners with limited literacy skills and formal education?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of mixed-level and same-level groupings of students? When should you use one and not the other?
  • How can you strategically design or adapt tasks in order to maximize student learning and engagement?

The course components include:

  • Three face-to-face sessions (3 hours each for a total of 9 hours)
  • Application to your teaching practice (2 hours)

To receive credit, you must participate in all components. Total PD hours: 11.

PDPs are available upon request if the following criteria are met:

  • Three classroom implementations
  • One brief written reflection and one brief presentation of each strategy tried

For more information, contact Dori McCormack at

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this professional development activity/course, you will be able to:

  • Identify your students' individual skill sets and learner profiles
  • Name several effective scaffolding techniques to support all learners in whole-class learning
  • Identify several learning activities that are highly adaptive to individual learner needs
  • Explain why certain tasks and groupings are more appropriate for certain students
  • Plan action steps to differentiate instruction in your class
Presenter(s) / Facilitator(s)

Quinsigamond Community College - Ahlfors Building Room 111
670 West Boylston St.
Worcester, MA 01606
United States

PD Center
SABES English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Curriculum & Instruction PD Center
Topic Area
ESOL/English Language Learner