Classroom Instruction

The resources on this page are focused on best practices in the adult literacy classroom. Scroll to browse, or use the quick links to jump straight to each sub-category. You’re also welcome to browse the Literacy Texas YouTube channel for additional trainings and resources.

Items marked with a star (*) are resources and presentations shared by literacy professionals at Literacy Texas symposiums or conferences.

Classroom Instruction Quick Links:

How Adults Learn, How to Teach Adults

A Simple, Easy to Understand Guide to Andragogy | Link format: Article | Author: Steve Graham | The basics on how adults learn, and the key differences to how children learn.

Teacher Talk | Link format: Video (0:12:20) | Author: elt-training | Basic classroom management for new teachers of adults, with a focus on how to teach well.

elt-training.com | Link format: YouTube Channel | Many excellent videos for new teachers, tutors, and those refreshing their knowledge of teaching adults.

Breaking Bad Habits | Link format: Video (0:07:24) | Author: Bridge Education Group | Alternatives to three bad habits: Talking to the board, echoing student comments, and interrupting students to supply answers.

Reduce Teacher Talk and Increase Student Talk in the Classroom | Link format: Video (0:01:38) | Author: Rennert New York TESOL Center | Tips on how to get your adult ESL students talking in the classroom.

Adult Learning Principles | Link format: PDF, 1 page | Author: Knowles, Swanson, & Holton | The six principles of adult learning represented in a diagram.

The Science of Adult Learning: Understanding the Whole Learner | Link format: PDF (11 pages) | Source: Digital Promise | Digital Promise set out to examine the factors that underlie adult literacies and lifelong learning—and how they intertwine. The framework is organized into four key categories—literacies, cognition, social-emotional, and learner background—and reveals how these categories interact to create a complex but meaningful picture of the whole learner. They explain factors such as digital literacy, working memory, motivation, and adverse experiences, and source instructional and product design strategies that span active learning, collaboration, multisensory, and metacognitive supports to promote the development of high-quality, personalized learning experiences. 

Tips to Motivating the Adult Student* | Link format: Video (1:17:51) | Presenter: Olga Escamilla | Adults coming to literacy classes are juggling a lot of things in their lives – work, family, competing priorities – and we can help by understanding what motivates them. Help smooth the path for your adult students with the information this session.

Living Intentionally: Changing the Narrative on Poverty* | Link format: Video (1:24:37) | Presenter: Elia Moreno | At Literacy Texas, we believe in lifelong learning – and that includes about social issues, like who’s in poverty, some of the reasons why, and how it can have far-reaching effects. Did you know that most things are more expensive for people in poverty than for those who are more prosperous? Do you know that multiple factors can combine to keep people in poverty despite their ongoing efforts? Learn more in this session about how to help people lift themselves out of poverty (it doesn’t involve bootstraps).

Engaging Ideas for the Classroom* | Link format: Video (1:21:08) | Presenter: Olga Escamilla | Both ESL and ABE instructors, along with volunteer tutors and a full-time teachers, can get some ideas from this session. Keeping adult students engaged is key to success.

Independent Learners* | Link format: PDF, 26 PPT slides | Author: Pranjali Davidson Mardkehar | Helping adult students develop autonomy and good learning practices while also giving them agency.

Practical Tools for the Adult Literacy Classroom

100 Remote Learning Activities, Templates, and Tutorials | Link format: Website | Source: Ditch That Textbook | Downloadable and editable templates in categories like graphic organizer templates, Google slides activities, digital writing activities, video project ideas, ways to use maps, and ready-to-use interactive lessons. 

Teaching the Skills That Matter in Adult Education | Link format: Website | Source: LINCS | This project trains teachers to integrate the skills that matter to adult students using approaches that work across critical topics. Using the project’s tools and training, adult education teachers can teach the transferable skills students need in these critical contexts.

The 9 skills that matter are:

  1. Adaptability & willingness to learn
  2. Communication
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Interpersonal skills
  5. Navigating systems
  6. Problem solving
  7. Processing & analyzing information
  8. Respecting differences & diversity
  9. Self-awareness


The 5 topic areas are:

  1. Civics education
  2. Digital literacy
  3. Financial literacy
  4. Health literacy
  5. Workforce preparation


The 3 approaches that work are:

  1. Integrated & contextualized learning
  2. Problem-based learning
  3. Project-based learning


Bringing the World to Your Classroom: PBS Learning Media* | Link format: Video (1:25:59) | Presenters: Annemarie Molinari-Sanders, Liz Moya| This session, looking at what’s available on the PBS website and in their learning materials, is popular every time it’s presented. Find great content for your adult literacy classes from PBS.

WIPPEAR Blank Lesson Plan | Link format: PDF, 1 page | WIPPEAR: Warm-up, Introduction, Presentation, Practice, Evaluation, Application, Reflection; a lesson plan model that represents a continuous teaching cycle in which each learning concept builds on the previous one.

Deconstructing Standards: Clarifying Learning Targets | Link format: PDF, 2 pages | When deconstructing or clarifying learning targets we take a broad and/or unclear standard or objective and break it into smaller more explicit learning targets.

Assessing Student Performance with Tech Tools* | Link format: PDF, 40 PPT slides | Author: Ashly Winkle | An introduction to three engaging tech tools for the adult classroom: Plickers, Kahoot, and Quizizz.

Teaching ESL & ESOL

Making it Real: Teaching Pre-Literate Adult Refugee Students | Link format: PDF document, 116 pages | Author: Tacoma Community House Training Project | Practical ideas, lesson plans, games, and more for teaching pre-literate adults.

25 Essential Basic English Lessons | Link format: Website | Author: Kenneth Beare | These basic English lessons provide the most important learning points for beginning level English learners. Use these 25 short lessons to study for tests, review basic English essentials, or check understanding of the basics.

ESL Classroom: Awake, Alive, and Fun* | Link format: PDF, 6 pages | Author: Karen Peiser | Games and activities to add energy and fun to the adult ESL classroom.

Presenting & Reviewing Vocabulary in an ESL Classroom* | Link format: PDF, 18 PPT slides | Author: Katarina Vukasinovic | Practical ways to present vocabulary, including Concept Check Questions and Interactive Activities.

Teaching Reading, ABE, & HSE

Effective Practices for Teaching Reading* | Link format: PDF, 13 PPT slides | Amit Patel, Audrey Nelson | A look at the basics of reading, including comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, and vocabulary.

The Value of Graphic Novels in Literacy Instruction* | Link format: PDF, 34 PPT slides | Author: Wes Young | The value of using graphic novels to engage struggling adult readers in ESL, ABE, and HSE classes.

The Audio Revolution of Podcasts, Adapted for Literacy Instruction* | Link format: PDF, 22 PPT slides | Author: Wes Young | Imaginative ways to use podcasts and audio stories in adult literacy classes.

Digital Literacy

GCF Global & GCF Learn Free | Link format: Website | From Microsoft Office and email, to reading, math, and more—GCFLearnFree.org offers more than 200 topics, including more than 2,000 lessons, more than 1,000 videos, and more than 50 interactives and games, completely free.

How to use Khan Academy For Remote Learning | Link format: Video (0:31:50) | Basic tutorial on how to use the popular Khan Academy for remote learning, including getting students enrolled, finding appropriate content and exercises, differentiating content to help each student thrive, and reviewing results.

The Digital Skills Library | Link format: Website | An open repository of free learning resources designed to help all adult learners develop the digital skills needed to achieve their personal, civic, educational, and career goals.

Introduction to TED Ed for Teachers | Link format: Website | Ideas that spark curiosity, lesson plans, and more, for using TED Ed with students.

DigitalLearn.org | Link format: Website | Digital literacy courses for learners and resources for teachers.

Excel Easy | Link format: Website | Learn how to use spreadsheets.

The Next Step | Link format: Online training | Texas-based digital literacy basics; there is a course fee but there are also scholarships available.

The Mexican Institute | Link format: Website | Digital literacy basics in English or Spanish.

Technology & Tech Applications for 21st Century AEL Classrooms* | Link format: PDF, 14 PPT slides | Author: Jackie Aguilera | A look at the relationship between information technology, the classroom, and the workforce.

Digital Behavior in a Digital World* | Link format: PDF, 12 handout pages, | Author: Debra Hargrove | Helping the less-experienced navigate the internet, including etiquette, scams, and how to spot fake news.

Technologizing Your Classroom* | Link format: PDF, 36 PPT slides | Ashly Winkle | Ways to design lessons that integrate technology into adult education instruction.

Other resources in this section:

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