Empower English Language Learners by differentiating instruction to meet their abilities and experiences.

by Dorina Sackman-Ebuwa

Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


Because so much about their learning is new and unique to their experience, it is essential to offer English Language Learners genuinely differentiated instruction.

In my 18 years teaching students from around the world, I’ve found it equally necessary to build a relationship and understand each student’s story before I can tailor instruction to meet his or her needs.

To better serve my students, I:

–Assess their academic and linguistic abilities early on, by introducing a fun survey that requires them to answer questions about who they are in their home country and who they are in their new country. The engaging questions ease their anxiety to perform in another language. Here they are encouraged to translate and construct meaningful sentences in both their first and second languages;

–Drive instruction by being animated and accessible—for example, using body language, facing students while speaking, speaking slower and enunciating each word,  employing lots of visuals, academic language and social language interactive word walls; and

–Differentiate instruction, by personalizing each student’s learning in a way that meets and then just exceeds his or her present competencies and comfort level.

Taking these steps to personalize my teaching to meet each student’s specific needs and abilities really goes a long way to empowering students who come to the United States—and to my classroom–bringing who they are through their language and culture. Using culturally relevant teaching to get to know your students’ stories before you teach them, fuels each child with knowledge and arms them with a voice to achieve and succeed!



About Dorina Sackman-Ebuwa

Dorina Sackman-Ebuwa is the 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year, and a Finalist for National Teacher of the Year. She is a leading authority on teachi...

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