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12 Chapter 12: Putting It All Together

Key Issues

  1. Every lesson must be accessible to all students.
  2. Lessons that focus on content and language, connections to students, engaging tasks, and authentic assessments are more accessible than those that do not.
  3. Every lesson can be improved in some way.

As you read the scenario below, think about how you might explain to your peers the important concepts in this book.

As first-year teacher Sidra Fitzgerald’s group of diverse fifth-grade students left her classroom after their science period, Sandra’s principal, Anita Alaniz, entered. Anita was amazed at how animatedly the ELLs were involved in discussions about the science topic with native-English-speaking students as they exited the classroom. Anita wanted to know what Sandra did to help her students form such bonds and to be excited about the difficult science concepts. Sidra explained how she helped all her students access the language and content of her curriculum by including the language, connections, focused task elements, and assessments that would help all students achieve. Anita wanted to hear more and assured Sidra that her colleagues would, too. They arranged to have Sidra available at the next teacher working lunch to demonstrate these concepts to her peers.


As we noted in the preface, this book does not address all that teachers need to know about working with diverse learners; there are many great resources that fill this need. Rather, the focus of this text is on the specifics of lesson planning for classrooms with diverse learners. Previous chapters introduced components and ideas that are essential for meeting the needs of diverse learners. This chapter pulls together the information in this text by presenting several lessons and explaining how the pieces fit together to make each lesson more accessible. Because instructional contexts vary, the lessons are necessarily rather generic. Teachers can focus the connections, language objectives, tasks, and assessments in ways that serve the needs of their own classrooms as they implement lessons and experiment with the delivery of carefully planned instruction.


What strategies and techniques would you use to implement carefully designed lessons? What do your choices depend on?

Understanding the Whole

This text’s focus on language objectives, connections, engaging tasks, and authentic assessment does not mean that these are the only important parts of the lesson; it does mean that these lesson features need special attention in order to provide content and language access to students. Although lesson structure and content vary from one teacher or program to another, the inclusion of these components can make a big difference in every lesson.

A lesson component checklist was presented in Chapter 7. In this chapter, the checklist is used as a guide to construct, evaluate, and adapt lessons in order to provide a more coherent idea of the overall integration of these components.

Lesson Examples

Creating a New Lesson

The first example in this chapter demonstrates a process for creating a lesson based on the concepts presented in Figure 7.5. It proposes generic steps that illustrate a hypothetical teacher’s planning process. A complete lesson is not reproduced here, but the general ideas should be clear.

Step 1: Find and Create the Learning Targets

The national standards note that students of all ages should understand “the people, events, problems, and ideas that were significant in creating the history of their state” (National Center for History in the Schools, 2005). Local standards based on this national standard require that each student:

  • Creates and uses a research question to conduct research on an issue or event.
  • Understands that there are multiple perspectives and interpretations of historical events.
  • Understands the main ideas from an artifact, primary source, or secondary source in order to gather accurate information on an issue or historical event.

A required topic for fourth-graders is “Exploring the Pacific Northwest Prior to Statehood: Whitman Massacre.” The teacher can create a variety of content objectives from these general standards and other requirements.[1] She decides that the students will be able to (SWBAT):

  • Develop a question to guide an investigation of the Whitman massacre after looking at primary and secondary sources.
  • Draw one or more conclusions or state a perspective about the question by referencing two or more sources.
  • List two or more sources, including the title, author, type of source, and date of each source.

To meet these content objectives, students need a variety of language skills. For example, students need to understand vocabulary terms (among them primary, secondary, source, massacre); question formation; reading for information; and probably functions such as summarizing, paraphrasing, and writing in complete sentences. Knowing that the students understand how to create complete sentences and questions, the teacher may decide on language objectives such as these:

  • SWBAT define and use vocabulary related to the assignment, including primary, secondary, source, and massacre.
  • SWBAT demonstrate the ability to read for information.

Step 2: Make Initial Connections

In this step, the teacher can develop assessments (as discussed in Chapter 7 on backward design), or develop, in a more linear progression, the anticipatory set that includes connections to students’ backgrounds and interests.

The teacher decides to introduce the topic by connecting it to previous lessons on Washington state history (academic connection) and to different views that students have of items and people in their lives, for example, the cafeteria’s meatloaf, Britney Spears, other fifth-graders (personal connection). She then links the idea of different perspectives to history and to the idea of primary and secondary sources. In doing so, she also introduces some of the essential vocabulary and has students post it on the classroom word wall. She uses a questioning framework during this section of the lesson so that student input is central to setting up the lesson. She then presents students with the lesson objectives and answers any questions about the procedures of the lesson. To pique the students’ interest, she reads the following quote that she has written on the board:
The Whitmans are regarded by some as pioneer heroes; others see them as white settlers who attempted to impose their religion on the Native Americans and otherwise unjustly intruded. (“Whitman massacre,” Wikipedia, 2019)

She discusses with students the impact that these different perceptions might have had on the development of the state of Washington.

Step 3: Create Engaging Tasks

The teacher continues to use information that she has collected about and from students to plan the lesson tasks. She knows that some of her students like to work together, while others do better individually. She understands that there is a wide variety in their reading skills and interests and that engaging her learners means providing structured choices. Her task decisions are presented in Figure 12.1.

Instructional groupings A choice: dyads or individuals.
Modes Primary and secondary sources that the teacher has gathered include picture books, historical texts, the letters and journals of Narcissa Whitman, a filmstrip.
Task structure Cooperative: to try to come to an agreement about the massacre.
Time and pacing In addition to regular class time, students may use some of their sustained silent reading time to review resources. They may also work at home. Product development will be spread over a week, and those students who finish early can either assist others or work on an extension.
Scaffolding Handout with models of a question, graphic organizer to create their conclusions, and citations for their resources.
Resources and texts Resources at different levels. Students can check these or find their own.
Teacher’s and students’ roles Teacher will help students evaluate their questions and direct them toward appropriate resources; students will choose their resources. Teacher will focus on language objectives with groups who she observes need help or with those groups who ask for it.
Students will take the position of an observer, a news reporter, or an artist to create a document that presents their perspective of the Whitman massacre.
Procedural tools Bookmarked websites will be available; students can use the library and ask question of the librarian; a film projector will be set up.
Audience and mode for product The teacher will invite local community members (historical society) to assess the conclusions reached in each project. Students will have a choice of how to present their projects (in writing, orally, computer-based, etc.). Students will also get to comment on their peers’ projects. As they listen, read, or view the product presentations, they will complete a worksheet on the information presented and the sources used. Theywill then refer to the resources for their homework.

Figure 12.1 Process and product for the lesson about the Whitman massacre.

As shown in the figure, the teacher has built in choices to engage students, provided students with reasons to listen (an authentic audience and a variety of products to present), and enough scaffolding that students can do the project on their own or receive help when needed. She has incorporated many modes for students to gain and to express knowledge, making those tasks easier.

Step 4: Assessment

The teacher will observe students throughout the lesson, checking informally for understanding as often as needed. In addition, the state school administration has provided a sample rubric to help the teacher measure the final product, and the teacher decides to use it with input from her students on adaptations. She will be sure that the rubric covers all of the objectives and that students are given separate grades for language use and content knowledge. She will also ask the audience to provide feedback as they participate in the presentations. To double-check the results, she will assign interactive homework in which students present perceptions from both sides of the Whitman massacre to a family member and record their family member’s opinion. When they present these findings, the teacher will use a checklist to note students’ language use and content outcomes.

This assessment plan provides students with practice and review and is ongoing throughout the lesson. Because the teacher discussed it with students at the beginning of the lesson and during its development, it is transparent. In addition, it is fair to ELLs and other students who may have barriers to linguistic expression of the content concepts.


Use the checklist in Figure 7.5 to evaluate the lesson on the Whitman massacre. What is missing? What was done well? Discuss your findings with the class.

Adapting Lessons

It is not always necessary or desirable to create lessons from scratch. In some instances, teachers are required to use lessons that come ready-made in their commercially prepared text packages. For others, many excellent sites on the Web offer standards-based lesson plans that are indexed according to grade level and content area. Any of these lessons can be adapted to better help students access the lesson content and language. This section presents three examples of lesson adaptations.

Adaptation 1

This first example needs little adaptation. The framework is different than the lesson presented above, but it contains the same basic components. The segments in bold point out where the teacher has included the essential components that are not already highlighted, and the adaptations are indicated by italics within parentheses.

Measuring Up
Adapted from a lesson by Katie Carbone http://illuminations.nctm.org/LessonDetail.aspx?ID=L509

Topic: Measurement Terms
Grades: 6–8
Learning Targets:

  • Understand both metric and customary systems of measurement.

Content objectives:

  • SWBAT identify and classify terms related to measurement.
  • SWBAT demonstrate the relationships between terms of measurement.

Language objectives:

  • SWBAT define the measurement terms.
  • SWBAT write complete sentences about the measurement terms.

Lesson Procedure:

  • (Present and discuss the objectives and assessment of the lesson.)
  • Have students brainstorm a list of all the terms they know that relate to measurement. (Provide a model for them to get started.) Record their answers in list form on a chart. Students may also write each term on a separate index card. (Have students define the words on their index cards. Remind them and/or model how to write complete sentences. Also encourage students to draw pictures or add whatever other notes or ideas they need to help them identify the words.)
  • Organize the students in pairs and have them group and label the terms that the class has just brainstormed. (Provide a spoken and written model of this activity.) This helps students establish connections among the various categories of terms. Students can move the cards around on the chart paper as they group the terms. (To make sure that all students have the opportunity to contribute, group the students based on your knowledge of their skills, abilities, etc.)
  • Have the class reach a consensus on the major categories in which the terms can be grouped and record these categories on a chart. Then ask students to group terms that have common attributes. Students may work in groups or individually to write brief sentences about what they know about the terms (or categories). (Provide scaffolding in the form of a graphic organizer as needed.)
  • As time permits, have a class discussion about the terms the students just brainstormed. Access students’ prior knowledge about the relationships between the terms. For example, how does a foot compare to a yard? (academic connection) Other questions for students include the following:
    • How are the terms that you listed related to one another? What guidelines did you use to classify your terms?
    • How and when have you used these types of measurement? (personal/academic connection)
    • Were any of these terms of measurement new to you? If so, which ones? What did you learn in this lesson about appropriate uses of these terms?


At this stage of the unit, students should be able to do the following (and the teacher can observe throughout the lesson whether they seem to):

  • Understand major terms associated with measurement.
  • Know how these terms of measurement relate to one another.
  • Know how certain measurements are used in the real world.
  • Were the students able to make connections between their own experiences and the words they generated in their brainstorming?


To add practice and additional assessment, the teacher can ask the students to list all the measurement terms that the family uses at home by brainstorming with family members and listing the results by room, family event (such as dinner or TV watching), or in some other way. Students who speak a language other than English at home can list terms in their first language to share with the class.

Evaluation of the Lesson

The teacher-author of this lesson notes that the opening activity “allows you to get an idea of what the students know before you delve further into the concepts of the unit. The activity gives you an opportunity to adjust the lesson based on students’ strengths and weaknesses. It also gives students an idea of what topics will be covered in upcoming lessons.” She adds that “this activity aids in planning and pacing the remainder of this unit. Keep the results from this activity to determine how students can add to or adjust the lists that they created. Students will need to refer again to their brainstormed lists in a future lesson.”

Although she made connections at the end of the lesson, the teacher was working throughout the lesson on ideas that the students knew and that diverse students could contribute to. The variety of instructional groupings, the language practice provided in different parts of the task, and the multimodal nature of the activities help all students access the lesson. The small but important adaptations contribute even more to student opportunities for success.


Use the checklist in Figure 7.5 to evaluate the lesson on measurement terms. What is missing? What was done well? Discuss your findings with the class.

Adaptation 2
This example presents a social studies lesson for kindergarten through Grade 3. It is adapted from the Council for Economic Education (http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lesson=EM468&page=teacher). The lesson needs some adjustments to provide access to the content and language for diverse learners. Once again the format is different that the lesson above, but the same components should be present.

A Perfect Pet

Key Economic Concepts:

  • Choice
  • Decision making
  • Economic wants
  • Scarcity

Lesson Objectives


  • Identify economic wants of pet owners.
  • Use an experience of scarcity when making choices.
  • Explain why people have different economic wants.

Language Objectives:

  • Construct sentences with the formats “I want _______ because __________,” and “I would _______ because _______.”
  • Use vocabulary related to the lesson such as economic want, scarcity, and so on.


(Preview the American idea of “pet,” helping students understand that not all cultures believe in keeping pets and that some have a distinct aversion to it. Discuss pets that students have or might want.) (Prepare students with vocabulary and main ideas from the story and focus on the reason they are reading it.) Have students read (and listen to) the story, “The Perfect Pet,” https://www.storyplace.org/story/perfect-pet). (Discuss what students understood from the story, and review as necessary.) Then discuss the following: “Do you have a dog or know someone else who does? (personal connection) If you do, you know that adopting a dog means more than just finding an animal that is cute and cuddly. You have to care for it. Pets depend on their owners to provide the goods and services that keep them healthy and happy. These things are called economic wants.” (Review the term and brainstorm with students what else may be an economic want. Have students write and illustrate the vocabulary in their vocabulary journals or a word wall. Make an academic connection to previous study and to the current lesson, introducing the objectives, tasks, and assessments.)


Activity 1

(Brainstorm vocabulary and ideas that students think may be in the story, and then) Read to OR have students read the flash activity “Economic Wants of Pet Owners” (http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/popup.php?lesson_number=468&&flash_name=em468_definitions.swf). Use the text and questions in the Think about It section of the student version as the basis for a discussion on economic wants and scarcity. “What things would you want for your pet?” (Have students brainstorm with a partner before presenting to the class, thus providing extra support for students who may not understand the reading.)

“Few pet owners have enough money to buy everything they want for their pets. This is called a scarcity problem. Scarcity forces people to make choices.” (Review the term and have students include it in their vocabulary notebooks or word wall.)

“If you could buy just five of the many things at the pet store for your new dog, what would you buy?” (Review with the students the grammatical construction used to answer this question and encourage them to use them in their reply.)

NOTE TO TEACHER: If time allows, you may want to have students write a list or draw pictures of the five items they would choose in response to this question (using the constructions in the language objectives if possible). Have several students share their choices with classmates to help illustrate the point that students—and people in general—have different economic wants (and to provide listening/speaking practice with the language objectives). Then ask (students to share with their seat partners):

  • Which of your choices are the same as those of your classmates?
  • Why do you think these choices are the same?
  • Which of your choices are different?
  • Why do you think these choices are different?

Activity 2

(Make a link between Activity 1 and Activity 2.) Have students imagine that the girl in the story “A Perfect Pet” picked a fish instead of a dog as her new pet. Direct students to look at the items she wants for her fish, as identified in the interactive activity (http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/popup.php?lesson_number=468&&flash_name=em468_dragndrop_v2_save.swf). Announce that, like most people, the little girl has a scarcity problem. She has only $5.00 to make her purchases. Direct students to choose the items they would purchase with the girl’s $5.00. (Have students discuss their choices with their seat partners, using the grammatical constructions in the language objectives.)

Ask students to summarize the reasons people’s choices are not always the same (they can write, draw, or record their answers individually or in groups before sharing with the class). Three factors to be identified include:

  1. Our personal preferences—what we like.
  2. Our values—what we think is important.
  3. Our haves—what we already own or have access to.

Assessment Activity

Have students give reasons for their choices in Activity 2. For younger students, this may be an oral report. Older students can write sentences or paragraphs citing their choices and the reasons for their choices. (During discussions, circulate and observe students’ participation and whether they use the grammatical structures and vocabulary. For interactive homework practice and assessment, have the student explain the terms economic want and scarcity to a family member and have them come up with an example of each to share with the class using the language objectives.)

Extension Activity

Have students try to unscramble the picture of a dog and dog house in the Pet Puzzle activity.

Lesson Evaluation

In its original form, this lesson included a variety of modes and a personal connection to American children, but it lacked scaffolding (particularly for language) and cultural sensitivity. In addition, very little explicit assessment was included. In the adapted version, many more instances of scaffolding have been added, language objectives are addressed throughout, and multiple forms of assessment have been added. The Extension Activity does not reinforce the lesson objectives; a more useful choice may be to have students explain to their parents what they want and why (pet-wise, or, to help them transfer this information to another topic, food-wise or around some other idea), and record their parents’ responses to share with the class.


Use the checklist in Figure 7.5 to evaluate the lesson on pets. What is still missing? What was done well? Discuss your findings with the class.

Adaptation 3

This final example lesson was submitted by Allen Payton, from Nickajack Elementary School in Smyrna, Georgia, to the lesson databank at PE Central (http://www.pecentral.org/lessonideas/ViewLesson.asp?ID=6598). Some teachers think that content areas such as art and physical education are easier for ELLs because they don’t carry as much linguistic weight, but like science, math, and other content areas, these have their own jargon, genre, and cultural background that diverse students need support for. The terms and format of this lesson are different than those previously presented, but they demonstrate the same basic process of lesson planning.

Zone Ball

Purpose of Activity: The purpose of this activity is for students to learn the fundamental concepts of a zone defense in basketball. In doing so, students should also break the habit of everyone gravitating to the person holding the ball. On the offensive side, students will utilize non-bounce passing skills to share the ball successfully with teammates. Students will also learn how to move without having the ball in their hands.

(Language objective: SWBAT define the terms zone, pass, dribble, offense, rebound, and defense and use them appropriately in discussion.)

Prerequisites: Students should have had practice with passing, shooting, and defensive stance.

Suggested Grade Level: 7–12

Description of Idea:

(Connect the current lesson to previous lessons on basketball and to previous experiences that students have had playing basketball. Ask about problems that their teams have had and if they have any ideas for how to play better. Review the vocabulary, introducing the concept of a zone. Provide models and graphics as the vocabulary and concepts are discussed. Explain the objectives of the lesson and how students will be assessed.)

The teacher can set up different types of defenses such as a 2-1-2, a 3-2, or a 2-3 around the basketball goal using hula hoops. Five to six students will be selected to play defense. Those students will be restricted to either standing inside the hula hoop or have one foot in and one foot out (teacher’s choice) until a turnover occurs or a basket is scored. In doing so, students will understand their area in the zone defense. (Model this and other tasks several times so that students understand.) The offense must chest-pass the ball to one another without letting the ball touch the ground; there is no dribbling in this activity. The student must freeze when he or she receives a pass and quickly decide who to pass to next. (Provide practice for students who have not played basketball and use an understanding of student abilities to create teams.) Each person on offense must pass the ball at least once before a shot can occur. Encourage students to move around as much as possible and find open space to handle the ball and receive passes. (Ask students what they are supposed to do, encouraging them to use the focus vocabulary by asking questions [e.g., “Are you allowed to dribble during this activity?”]).

Each time the defense tips a pass away and the ball touches the ground, a turnover occurs and players switch: offense becomes defense, and vice versa. Each player gets a pass and can shoot; if the ball touches the ground, it is considered a turnover. However, if a student rebounds the ball, he or she can shoot again. (Take breaks when necessary to review the rules of the activity and reiterate the objectives.)

Assessment Ideas

If each student passes the ball successfully without the ball touching the ground before shooting, she or he has met the objective. If the defense stays within its hula hoop space and makes attempts to disrupt the offensive team’s passing lanes, it has met the objective. (The teacher can use observation throughout the lesson to determine if students understand the vocabulary and concepts. The teacher can use a checklist to note which students have mastered the concepts. In addition, students can take a multimedia quiz in which they match vocabulary terms with pictures or actions.)

Lesson Evaluation

Even physical education lessons must have language objectives so that students understand the topic under discussion. For students new to basketball, the rules and ideas might seem very foreign and so need to be addressed with as much scaffolding as possible. Because sports activities often build on previous lessons, it is important to understand whether students have mastered the concepts before continuing with the next set of rules. This lesson shows that all teachers are language teachers to some extent.


Use the checklist in Figure 7.5 to evaluate the lesson on zone defense. What is still missing? What was done well? Discuss your findings with the class.

<h2Guidelines for Creating and Adapting Lessons

In addition to the suggestions throughout this text, two final guidelines can help teachers in their lesson planning. Figure 12.2 summarizes the following guidelines.

Guideline 1: Do Not Reinvent the Wheel

Sometimes teachers need to develop new lessons. In cases where lesson plans are not provided by administration or by commercially produced curricula, websites such the International Reading Association/National Council of Teachers of English ReadWriteThink (www.readwritethink.org) and Pinterest (pinterest.com) have excellent standards-based lessons in all content areas. Teachers can also share lessons with colleagues and work off the ideas of peers. Using and/or adapting premade lessons can save time and provide effective ideas, as long as the lessons are focused on the needs of the specific students who will participate in them.

Guideline 2: Share

Teachers have the universal goal of student achievement. To meet this goal, information about lessons that are effective and successful (or that are ineffective and useless) should be shared with colleagues. Teachers can post lessons and comments online, at sites such as Teacher.org’s K-12 Lesson Plans site (https://www.teacher.org/lesson-plans/); use in-service time to present; or discuss lessons with peers at lunch, in meetings, or during less formal occasions. The chapter-opening scenario provided one such example.

Guideline Explanation
Do not reinvent the wheel. Find standards-based lessons from a variety of resources and adapt them for specific contexts.
Share. Post lesson successes and failures to the Web or share with colleagues in other ways.


The focus of this chapter was bringing the suggestions and guidelines presented in the rest of this text together in the form of sample lesson plans. No lesson is perfect, and few work perfectly for every student in a class. However, the ideas and lesson components that are outlined in this book are key because they provide access for diverse students to the content and language of the lesson, providing them greater opportunity to achieve.


For Reflection

  1. Review the text. Review the chapters in this book. What did you learn that you did not previously know? What else do you need to know in order to serve diverse learners better? Where can you find the information that you need?
  2. Think about sharing. How can you share some of the ideas you have learned from this text Who would benefit most from your sharing?

For Action

  1. Create a lesson. Employing the guidelines, lists, and ideas most helpful to you and your current or future students, develop a lesson starting with the standards for your area. Include all the essential components.
  2. Adapt a lesson. Find a lesson on a lesson plan website. Read the lesson carefully, moting where and how each important component is included (or left out). Revise the lesson, changing and adding as necessary to make the lesson more effective.
  3. Teach peers. Plan some professional development based on the text and observe any changes that result.


National Center for History in the Schools. (2005) Overview of K–4 content standards. Available: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards/standardsk-4.html

Wikipedia (2019, June 28). Whitman massacre. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitman_massacre

  1. (Adapted from a former Washington State OSPI resource).


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Chapter 12: Putting It All Together by Gisela Ernst-Slavit and Joy Egbert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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