Incorporating Easter and Passover traditions with Your Adult Learners

Cultural differences are just another barrier which adult learners must learn to overcome. Even the ways in which sects of the same religion, or for that matter same sects of the same religion in different locations, celebrate holidays differ in some way or another. That’s why this week you should take advantage of the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter to teach your adult learners about the traditions, origins, and significance, of these respective religions.

This can be quite difficult to do without coming across as proselytizing a religious view, but it can be done successfully. The best method to ensure that what you teach will not be misconstrued as attempting to convert your students is to state the facts about each holiday in a fun, nonthreatening way. It’s more important to use these holidays as a means of connecting adult learners with unfamiliar language and cultural traditions than it is to use them as a tipping point for spiritual realization.

With that said, tutors might want to look into these websites which cover the traditions of Easter and Passover, taken from Larry Ferlazzo’s EduBlog.

If you’re searching for lessons for ESOL or ELLs, check out the resources on these sites:

New Year’s Resolution Lesson Plans for Adult Learners

New Year’s Eve, for many, doesn’t mark the end of a year as much as it celebrates the beginning of another. I forget who said that. Regardless, entering the year 2013 is sure to inspire and motivate the 45% of Americans that usually make New Year’s Resolutions.

As the holiday season comes to an end, it’s time to return to our daily routines. This can be a challenge after having some time off, but looking towards the New Year can help both students and teachers. Creating a lesson based on New Year’s Resolutions can result in improving upon your students writing skills from their well intended yet likely-to-fail attempt to better themselves. Let’s stick to being optimistic though.

Looking towards the future is a great time to introduce the verb tense to beginning English language learners. There are plenty of templates available online for future tense practice, which specifically deal with New Year’s Resolutions. This approach can also be geared towards higher skill levels. Whether it’s constructing simple sentences or writing a plan to accomplish one’s resolution, New Year’s Resolutions are perfect for writing activities.

For future tense lesson plans:

You may want to include a brief explanation as to Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail (and How to Do Them the Right Way) to better equip your students with the tools and resources they’ll need to accomplish their goals. Since New Year’s Resolutions can be anything from eating healthier to quitting smoking, if your class size is small enough, it’s possible to even include Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even Digital Literacy!

Whatever happens in the future, it will be nice to know that your student’s New Year’s Resolutions won’t be for nothing. Finally, unsuccessful New Year’s Resolutions may yield some good after all!’s Popular New Year’s Resolutions Resources List

Mashable’s 5 Apps for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Most common mistake when teaching writing

What’s the difference between revising and editing a piece of writing?  Many people, including tutors and professionals, confuse the two.

Revising is the process of expanding and clarifying what is written and should be done before the piece is edited.  The writer may revise a piece several times.  The tutor uses questions to get the learner to do the work.  Strategies could include the following:

  • Ask what the piece is about, who the audience is and how this should affect the audience.
  • Have the learner read the piece to you and then discuss the content.  Ask if the topic is clear and can any details be added, changed or taken out to make the ideas clearer.
  • Are the ideas put in a logical order?
  • The tutor reads the piece aloud as the learner listens critically.  You might ask, “Does this say what you want it to say?” “What do you like best about it?”  “Can you do anything to improve it?”

When you make suggestions, use the form of questions, such as

  • What would happen if …..?
  • How would it sound if…..
  • When this happened, what else did you notice?

Editing involves correcting the grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, etc.  In other words, editing works on the mechanics.  We don’t want to overwhelm the learner—just work on one or two errors or one general principle at a time.  It is very important to encourage the writer that the message is more important than spelling, grammar or penmanship.  Show the learner that you value and understand what (s)he has written by responding to the message before correcting minor errors. This may give the learner the courage to actually use writing.

Regardless of whether the writing is a personal letter, essay or term paper, the process is the same.

-A lesson in writing compliments of Olive Burkard,
Certified ProLiteracy Trainer, Lake County Library System

GED Essay Writing

Writing essays can be intimidating for adult learners. Writing one that can determine your next steps in life can be terrifying. So how do you approach this subject with your students? At the beginning, of course! But you need a plan. Here are five steps to essay writing (plus a video to see it in practice!) for the 45 minutes allotted by GED.

1. Brainstorm! Organize your thoughts clearly. Then prioritize your best three ideas, or the ones you can write the most about. Put your ideas in order. The rule of thumb is to put your strongest point last, but if you feel that there is a more logical order, go for it.

2. Add details to your ideas. As you’re writing, you’re likely to forget all the reasons why something was a great idea, so add your supporting points underneath your argument or main point.

(Complete the first two steps in less than 10 minutes)

3. Develop a topic sentence. Take the prompt and turn it into a sentence, no need to be creative. Then, create subsequent topic sentences for your three main arguments. Brainstorm different ways of saying common adjectives and phrases so you don’t lose points on word choice. (ex: good can be great, fair, helpful, etc.)

4. Start writing! Put your ideas into sentences. Remember, you don’t have to start with the introduction. Write what you are most confident with first to get the ball rolling.

5. Review your work. If you have time, go over your essay to make sure it is clear and concise.

GED Five Paragraph Essay Video

For more videos and resources available to print, visit Brenna’s MLoTs page. 

Roberta Reiss- “ESOL Conversation Clubs: Design and Delivery”

Just like any endeavor, successful conversation clubs require some careful thought and planning to meet the needs of the adult learners seeking to improve their listening and speaking skills.

The design should grow from the needs of the participants and your motivation for forming the club:

  • Is it a request from existing learners already active in your literacy program?
  • Is it an idea coming from tutors who see a need for their learners to get more conversation practice?
  • Do you need a way to keep learners on your waiting list connected to the program in a productive setting?

If you are meeting the needs of existing learners, be sure to ask them what they want to practice specifically.  Are they focused on life skills English, current affairs or grammar in use?  The content of your sessions should reflect their preferences.  It will also be feasible to have sessions with a start date and end date that build on one another.

If it is to help your learners on the waiting list start their learning before they are matched with a tutor, you should consider an open-ended, open-enrollment, drop-in model for the club.  This will require the facilitator to create stand-alone sessions with a different topic for every meeting.  It will also require skill in facilitating multi-level sessions with learners of varying skill levels.

Roberta Reiss

For any model, adult learners will appreciate having the chance to master and practice specific skills, whether it is life skill dialogues, grammar in use, or pronunciation.  This can be achieved with learning activities in which there is two-way interaction, time within the session to allow learners to plan what they might say, and a task with a closed solution or end product.

Within the session, the facilitator can rely on a set procedure no matter what the topic:

  • Announce the topic
  • Present vocabulary and allow for practice
  • Model the learning activity
  • Create pairs/small groups to do the activity
  • Walk through the room to offer help, monitor work flow and clarify the task
  • Have learners report back to the whole group

Meeting the needs and expectations of your adult learners is the best way to ensure attendance and gains in skill levels.

If you would like to see the full “Conversation Clubs” webinar hosted January 22, please click here.

U + Me = US, Valentine’s Day Math and Reading Comprehension

Just as things begin to dull down and become repetitive, Valentine’s brings us a fun holiday to show those we love what they mean to us…. and/or eat a lot of candy. Why not mix it up with your tutoring? Instead of reading from the same book, try reading one of these stories that talk about the history of valentines day. After you’re done reading (out loud, silently, or together), there are a series of multiple choice and short answer questions to test reading comprehension. You get the lesson done, learn something about the holiday, and your adult learner is able to practice his reading and comprehension skills. What a fun day!

Reading comprehension and Valentine’s Day
The story of St. Valentine 

Another thing you can do on Valentine’s day is practice math skills with word problems. This is great if you are studying for the GED or just trying to get math skills down. These word problems involve money or small numbers of various Valentine’s related symbols. Choose one from the list that best fits the needs of your learner! If you haven’t used word problems before, this eHow will show you the best way to teach word problems to your student.

Valentine’s Day Money word problems
Life skills Valentine’s Day word problems
Fractions and time word problems
Addition and subtraction word problems

Good luck in learning and have a wonderful day!

Marilyn McMullan: Incorporating Career Awareness into your Daily Curriculum

It’s a rare student who comes into my ABE/GED classroom without the intention to get a job or get a better job.  Students are well aware that without strong literacy skills and a high school diploma or GED, their career options are really limited.  However, I find that only a few have clear understandings of what jobs may be available, or what skills are necessary for those jobs.  For many, the motivator is something like:  “I hear you can make good money as a _______”.  Rarely do students have a clear view of the variety of careers available.  As teachers, we need to help them get this information.   Students also tend to think of the skills they are learning as something for “the test” and disconnected from the skills they would need for a career or for life.   As teachers, we need to bring students closer to the understanding that while the skills we are teaching are for “the test”, they apply to the world of work as well.

An easy way to fill both these needs is to train yourself to use examples which emphasize career reference.  For instance, instead of “The dog (ran, is running, will run) down the street yesterday”, how about “The computer technician (ran, is running, will run) a virus check on my computer yesterday”?  Instead of “One third of the 75 books were fiction”, how about “One third of the 75 prescriptions filled by the pharmacy tech were antibiotics”?  As we teach, we need to constantly use career references in our examples and skills practice so that our students become familiar with various occupations and relate the skills they are learning to those occupations.

Marilyn McMullan

Another way to incorporate career awareness into skills teaching is to structure lessons around a certain occupation.  Take a few minutes to do a quick internet search for information on an occupation, especially one with high job availability in Florida.  Copy or rewrite an article on a radiologist, mix up the paragraphs, and have the students put them in the correct order.  Copy or rewrite a paragraph about legal assistants, leave out the commas and have students correct it.  Use truck drivers or transportation for questions dealing with the distance/ rate/time formula, calculating miles per gallon, or figuring gas cost per trip.  No matter what individual skill your students need or what level you are teaching, you will increase your students’ interest and knowledge by incorporating career awareness into your daily curriculum.

English Language Learners and Technology

Technology has significantly aided in the advancement of English language learners. From interfaces and tools to help in the learning process, to resources for teachers, to communication, technology has made it easier for language learners to better integrate into their new country. In today’s world, technology is instrumental in teaching and learning English, and adapting to the demands of the culture.

Translation sites and tools have made it easier for learners to understand words or phrases found on the internet. In Google translate, users can input any text and get a fairly accurate translation for what it means. Although at times it might be off in the meaning, since its assuming context, the definition provided is fairly close to the translation. Several websites also have the option to translate the page. While this doesn’t exactly help with learning, it helps those not familiar with the language to find locations for ESL classes or other places in the case of an emergency.

The internet is also filled with resources for ESL teachers and activities for students. Interactive games help students learn English because it is using a different method of learning. Students can find activities to practice in their spare time and the computer is able to correct things they got wrong (instead of memorizing the wrong thing). Teachers are also able to find lesson plans, brainstorm with other teachers, and download additional resources with the wide assortment of ESL websites. It is one of the best tools teachers can use when trying to find additional curriculum since learning English is a very popular subject. Here are some good websites for teacher/student resources:

FLC ESOL Tutor Help Center

Center for Adult Education Language Acquisition


Thirteen EdOnline

Using technology has become increasingly necessary to advance in economically in the United States. The GED will be computer based in a couple of years, most jobs only seek applicants online or through a computer, and several jobs require basic computer skills. Technology is also becoming the dominant mode of communication. Hundreds of millions of people use social media to find jobs, keep in touch with friends, and stay up to date with current events. If you are working with someone who is new to the country, incorporating digital literacy in your curriculum will help your student on multiple levels. Try different word activities using the computer. Teach your student how they can hear how words sound using a computer. There are many ways you can do this and it is becoming increasingly important that you try.

Apps for Education

Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular. Now that they are becoming more affordable, it is not that uncommon to see people in every economic bracket with one.  The PEW Research Center has completed surveys about the demographics of smart phone users.

I heard about using cell phones as a tool during tutor training at the Adult Literacy League. But after the trainer explained how she came to it, it made complete sense. Her student wanted to practice the new words he was learning, but didn’t want to be embarrassed as a grown man using flash cards.  After many trail and error experiments, they found an application that would work well for both of them.  I decided to compile a list of 4-5 applications for the most popular smart phones.  I suggest that you try out a couple and see what works for your student. The gFlash allows you as the tutor to upload a list of words for your student to use, or you can download a list already made by someone else.   All of the applications include audio so users can see how the word is spelled and hear how it is pronounced.  Is there anything else you would add?


Flash cards + $0.99 English Voice download- FREE (includes pronunciation button) – FREE

Math games- FREE

World Lens (Translates street signs) – FREE

Top 50 iPhone apps for Educators


Spanish-English Dictionary ColorDict Dictionary- FREE

Math Wizard- FREE

gFlash (create your own flashcards)- FREE pronunciation button)- FREE


gFlash PRO flashcards (create your own or download someone elses)- $4.99

Math Flash- FREE

Student Notes (good for those studying for the GED)- FREE

Learn to Write- FREE

Dictionary and FREE

Roberta Reiss: Top 3 things to keep in mind when facilitating a multi-level conversation class

1.  Start a class by reviewing challenging vocabulary or vocabulary necessary for the task/discussion.  More advanced participants can improve their pronunciation while beginners expand their vocabularies.

2.  The facilitator should circulate through the room when pairs/groups are working on a task.  Offer encouragement, be available to answer questions, and help with pronunciation.

3.  Let learners “negotiate” language.  Create activities during which pairs or small groups of learners try to make themselves understood within the pair/group in order to achieve a product, find an answer or reach a goal. They then report back to the whole group.  The more advanced will be able to help out the beginners.  If by chance a pair/group of beginners is formed, the facilitator should join them for a while and assist.