Teaching beginning English language learners is rewarding, and not without unique challenges. This series of monthly conversations is an opportunity for teachers of beginning ELs to exchange ideas on practical approaches in a supportive and structured setting. With facilitation by Sarah Lynn, presentations by guest teachers, and open discussions with participants, the sessions invite curiosity and highlight teachers as creative problem solvers. The tone is informal, the exchange professional, and the focus practical. Teachers are welcome to join as many sessions as they like. Monthly topics are listed below.

Please note: This course will take place in Blackboard, where you will find all virtual session information, course materials, and additional resources. You cannot access the online course from the SABES website. You will receive a separate email one to two days before the course begins with instructions on how to access the Zoom session. If you do not receive these instructions, please check your Spam folder and/or send an email to nruskin@edc.org.


    This professional development activity/course is designed for:

  • ESOL teachers of beginner-level learners (NRS 1-3)

Each 75-minute session in this series focuses on a specific approach to teaching beginners. Register for any or all sessions (individual registrations are required for each one). Each session will open with a brief overview of the approach and its instructional value. An interview will follow with a guest-teacher who has implemented the approach. Participants will then be invited ask and answer questions, share strategies, and consider how to adapt the approach to their diverse teaching contexts, including virtual and in-person classes. All the sessions are aligned to the Massachusetts ESOL Professional Standard 6: Instruction.

1/5/24 — Session 1: Building an Inclusive Learning Community with guest-teacher Susan Reade (Relevant & Inclusive Instruction)

  • Exploring activities for student-to-student interaction in in-person and virtual classes    
  • Using student generated material
  • Using WhatsApp and other common platforms for communication and interaction

2/2/24 Session 2: Learning Stations with guest-teacher Jana Pickard-Richardson (Differentiated Learning)

  • Setting up and using learning stations
  • Assembling materials—both 3D and digital: types of exercises

3/1/24 — Session 3: Ongoing Assessment with guest-teacher Jana Pickard-Richardson (Assessment)

  • Using rubrics, checklists, dictations, exit tickets, quizzes, and recordings to assess student learning

4/5/24 — Session 4: Setting Up An "Extensive Reading" System with guest-teacher Susan Reade (Rigorous Teaching)

  • Finding reading resources
  • Using student reading-response forms
  • Setting up student book-presentations
  • Incentivizing independent reading

5/10/24 — Session 5: Student Presentations with guest-teacher Birgit Townley (Relevant & Inclusive Instruction)  

  • Setting up student presentations: topic ideas, class-response tasks, and evaluation tools
  • Using digital tools to share photos and text

5/31/24 — Session 6: Teaching & Practicing Learning Strategies and Study Skills with Sarah Lynn (Gradual Release of Responsibility)

  • Explicitly teaching learning strategies in class so students can use them independently.
  • Identifying and discussing study needs, strategies, and skills.


Each session is 75 minutes long. Attendance at all six sessions equals 7.5 PD hours.

Attendance in every session of the series is not required, however, registrations for individual sessions are required.

Teachers are invited to seek out follow-up coaching from SABES on the implementation of any of the practices. Contact ESOL PD Center Director, Dori McCormack, at dmccormack@edc.org for more information.

This course is not available for recordings only. If you are interested in any of these topics, but are unable to attend all of the sessions as outlined here, please see our resource collection on the SABES website at https://sabes.org/pd-center-resources/34.

    Learning Objectives

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

  • Articulate the instructional value of several approaches to teaching beginning English learners:
    - Relevance and inclusiveness
    - Rigorous writing and reading instruction
    - Differentiated instruction
    - Gradual release of responsibility
    - Ongoing assessment
  • Apply strategies for implementing the above approaches
Presenter(s) / Facilitator(s)
04/05/2024 - 1:00 pm to 04/05/2024 - 2:15 pm

United States

PD Center
SABES English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Curriculum & Instruction PD Center
Topic Area
Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Teaching
ESOL/English Learners
New Staff
Professional Standards
PDP Eligible