Diferentiated Learning in my 2nd Grade ESL Book Club

Next semester I plan to be teaching at a library at an international school in Seoul. As the librarian I will teach various grade levels. For the purposes of this assignment, let’s imagine I am teaching a 2nd grade read club after school to my ESL students to help them gain reading comprehension skills. Let me tell you a little more about my class.




My class includes 4 Korean children with varying levels of English. Rodrick has studied English through an immersion kindergarten program and is exceptionally bright, he is clearly at the top of his class. According to Judie Haynes, I would place him at the “advanced fluency” level. Jimmy is another student in my class. He also studied through an immersion program since kindergarten, however his progress has been less remarkable. He would rank between the “speech emergence” and “intermediate fluency” levels as he is able to communicate freely and understand most directions, but his speech is often limited to the present tense or erroneous use of the past tense (i.e. “I was walk to the park yesterday”). Dana on the other hand has just started her English studies and is still at the “early production” level. She is able to respond to very basic commands and produce rudimentary sentences. She has a great heart and strong motivation though, so she will go far. Lastly, there is Robin. He is a mischievous boy falling into the “pre-production” stage. Robin is just starting out in an English environment and isn’t fond of not being able to use Korean in class. Because of his language inability, he often acts out in class and is not attentive during our sessions.

As you imagine, having these 4 students with great differences in English ability might prove challenging. It is my goal in this post to outline a sample lesson where all students involved are given a chance to benefit from my class.

We will be reading the story “Cliffhanger” by Jean Craighead George.


This story is about a young boy (Axel) who bravely rescues his dog (Grits) from  a mountain cliff during a dangerous thunderstorm with the help of his father (Dag). After introducing the vocabulary with pictures and illustrations, I will have the students take turns reading in rotation, pausing every so often to clarify, answer questions and check for comprehension. My comprehension goals will be different for each student. For Rodrick, I may ask him about Dag’s motivation for helping his son, or how Dag felt when Axel almost falls from the cliff. For Jimmy, I will ask him to summarize the sequence of events, helping his work on his use of the past tense. For Dana, I will ask easier questions like “how many characters are in this story?” and for Robin, I may quiz him on new vocabulary by having him match the words to corresponding flashcards or ask if he knows the names of the characters. In this way, I will be sensitive to all of their needs, yet still appropriately and intentionally challenge them to continue growing in their English skills.

At the end of the month, having studied this book with them 8 times, I will have a simple oral quiz for Dana and Robin to check for comprehension as well as a written multiple choice quiz for Jimmy and Rodrick, which may include a small writing portion asking them to summarize the story or what they learned from it.




Haynes, J. (2005). Stages of Second Language Acquisition. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from




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