ESL Teaching Curriculum Guide & Resources

Grade-Level Lesson Planning Guide

ESL Teacher Lesson Planning for Class

Setting Objectives

The objectives for a particular grade are a wonderful bird's eye perspective on what students should be able to do by the end of the grade.

When lesson planning for a particular class though, we want to choose something concrete and manageable.

Students should be able to accomplish these daily goals in a single class. I find it helpful to use the terms manageable and measurable. 

  • Manageable means that the average student can accomplish the goal in a single class. 
  • Measurable means that the student is doing something to show mastery. 

Then all of our activities will bring students towards that final part of the class where they pass a challenge to show that they have accomplished the day's goal.

If you need help with this, check out section 2 of the book Kid-Inspired Teacher on Guidelines for Crafting Student-Centered, Productive and Stress-Free Classes.

Kid-Inspired Teacher How to Teach ESL Book Cover

Let's Look at a Specific Example

Let's take an example, finding the main idea and supporting details in a text. 

For this, and most any objective, we want to come up with activities that get students practicing the objective in speaking, listening, reading and writing. 

In order to focus on understanding the words "main idea" and "supporting details" as well as finding the main idea and supporting details in a text, we'll want to start with easier texts.

It also helps if those texts are goofy, or at least written in an engaging, fun way.

Later, once students have understood the vocabulary of the objective and what they need to do to accomplish it, we can move on to more difficult grade-level texts. Only, now they will be far less overwhelmed from trying to learn everything at once.

Class Progression

We can use the following progression to accomplish the objective utilizing all 4 language domains: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

  1. Starting with a simpler passage, students listen to the passage and organize information on a graphic organizer. 
  2. Students then turn and talk in order to share what they have written down on their graphic organizer.
  3. Students then read the same passage or another similar but still simple passage to look for the details they need to complete a new graphic organizer like the one they already completed at the listening stage.
  4. Then students turn and talk about their new graphic organizer.
  5. Finally, students reflect on a graphic organizer in writing.


We can take this one step further in order to differentiate for students at different levels.

  • Beginner - Low Intermediate Students (Or Entering to Emerging): Provide students the words they need. Teach and practice the words in order to complete the graphic organizer.
  • Intermediate to Upper Intermediate Students (Or Developing to Expanding Or Transitioning): provide a word bank that they can use to complete the graphic organizer.

Finally, each class, each student needs to do something concrete to show mastery of the skill in order to make sure that no one goes home empty-handed.

Challenges & Check-Ins

A little one-on-one conference with the teacher works very well. Students who have completed the tasks for the class, come up to the teacher and have to pass a final challenge. For example, after reviewing their work with them, you could ask that students explain to you the main ideas and supporting details of a passage they have read without looking at their graphic organizers or written reflections. 

If their graphic organizers or reflection needs some work, or a student cannot explain the main idea and supporting details of the passage, they need to return to their seat and make the changes or practice their explanations. They can work together with other students or work alone, and when they think they are ready, they can come back up and try again.

Once a student passes the final challenge, you can create a space in the classroom for them to play board games or participate in some other fun activity as a part of free play.

Grade Level Guides

ESL Teaching Curriculum Guide - 2nd Grade
ESL Teaching Curriculum Guide - 2nd Grade
ESL Teaching Curriculum Guide - 4th Grade

Materials & Resources

In a native English speaking context, 2nd Grade English Learners need to be accessing rigorous 2nd grade level materials. The materials in the Kid-Inspired ESL Curriculum Membership are meant to be a bridge to get students from where they are to where they need to be. 

Start your 2-Week free trial below to see if it is a good fit for your needs.

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