Building Community Adult ESOL Lesson Plan

Building Community - Lesson Plan


The following lesson plan was used in an adult education ESOL classroom with 22 students with a variety of L1 (Amharic, Chinese, Spanish) in Washington DC.   The students’ English language level ranged from intermediate high to advanced low.  The plan was used at the beginning of a semester, 18-week long course and served as a way to build community and get to know each other.  The class met five days a week for two hours and 45 minutes per day, with a 20-minute break.

Content Objective: Icebreakers and community building - describing ourselves (our character) and the characteristics we desire in our classmates



Performance-Based Objectives (students will be able to…)

I will be able to:

1)    Get to know my classmates by mingling and discussing ten interesting questions at one minute each.

2)    Review adjectives and identify the three adjectives that most represent my character and explain why they apply to me within my group.

3)    Decide what we would want for our classmates’ character as we work together this semester


Materials (e.g., books, equipment, technology, realia)

1.     Google presentation of questions for the mingle activity

2.     Candy for icebreaker #2

3.     2-3 sets of character cards and handout with adjectives

 4.     X and O signs (one for each student)

5.     Alphabet cards for the teach


Open Educational Resources – Websites

Warm-up -

Icebreaker #2 (optional) -

 Instruction –

 Student evaluation (game) -




Warm-Up Activity (i.e., find out what students already know about the

topic or topics; motivate students to learn about the new topic or topics)

15 minutes-  Modified Question-Cup Activity: MINGLE

Put the following questions (Google Presentation the Smart Board or projector, one question per slide:

(Choose from 145 questions:

1.     What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

2.     When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

3.     Why do you like living in Washington, DC?

4.     If your house was on fire, and you could only choose three things before you left, what would they be?

5.     If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?

6.     Do you have any hidden talents?

7.     Who is the person you respect most and why?

8.     What is your least favorite chore around the house?

9.     What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?

10.  What do you value most in other people?

11.  Who is the last person you talked to on the phone?  What about? 

12.  What would you do for one day if money weren’t an issue?

13.  What do you like to do for fun?

14.  If you could pick only ONE place in DC to bring a tourist, where would you take them


Go through the questions to make sure they understand them. 

*Put up the rules:

You and your partner both need to answer and you need to keep the conversation going for the entire minute. 

You must talk to a different student for each question.  You cannot talk to the same person twice. 

Quickly get a new partner.


Icebreaker #2 (optional) 15 minutes -  Bead Game – I’ve Done Something you Haven’t Done

Each student will introduce himself/herself and then make a statement saying something he/she did during the summer that they think no one else in the class has done.  If someone has done it, they get a candy; if no one has done it, the student who made the statement gets four candies.



Instruction (i.e., teach area[s] of new learning)

·      I used modifications of step 7 and step 9 from this community building activity.


Adjectives that describe character. 

Show the list of adjectives on the smart board and give handouts of the words to the students.

Have students at their table groups discuss the list of adjectives and make sure they know what they all mean.




Compassionate      Resourceful           Enthusiastic          Affectionate

Patient                 Adventurous Reliable                Accepting

Outgoing              Easy-going            Empathetic           Cooperative

Cheerful               Polite                   Dependable          Witty

Optimistic             Honest                 Persistent              Considerate

Gentle                  Pleasant               Non-judgmental    Organized

Neat                    Healthy                Thankful               Forgiving

Calm                   Sociable               Generous              Spontaneous

Sensible                Energetic              Ambitious             Flexible

Artistic                 Eager                   Realistic               Accurate

Reflective              Courageous          Precise                 Punctual



Checking for Understanding/We do (e.g., ask questions; introduce class activity that helps

teacher and students assess level of new learning; and, if necessary, re-teach material)


Put the character cards (have 2 sets) and lay them out on the desks. 

Students pick three adjectives that describe themselves. 

Think-Pair-Share: Students find three adjectives that describe themselves and take 2-3 minutes to prepare for their small group discussion: Explain to your group why these three adjectives describe you.  Give specific reasons. 

Students discuss in small groups.


Now, look again at the list of adjectives and pick three that you wish described you.  You can see these as personal improvement goals.  What qualities do you wish you had or had more of?  Discuss in your group.


Practice Activity/You do (e.g., from books or other related materials; dictation; pronunciation; writing, reading, conversation in pairs or small groups; learning centers; projects)


In your groups discuss what qualities you want your classmates to have during class and why.  Agree on the five most important qualities that you want people in your class to have and put them on the poster paper.  Students then do a walk around the room to see each group’s poster. As a class discuss the responses.


Student Evaluation (e.g., students and teacher discuss students’ needs for clarification,

additional instruction, more time to complete assignment(s); teacher assesses

understanding by informally checking work assigned to students during class, giving dictations, quizzes, and/or unit tests)



Game: Human tic-tac-toe (An X team and an O team


Give each student an X or an O sign, dividing everyone into two teams.


The teacher randomly selects a letter of the alphabet from prepared cards. A student from each team comes to the board and has to write (spelled correctly) an adjective on the board that begins with that letter.  The first student to write and spell the word correctly gets to pick a seat in the tic-tac-toe game (nine chairs lined up in three rows of three).


Play continues until one team gets tic-tac toe.



Teacher Reflection/Notes/What would I change?  (e.g., teacher reflects on success of overall class, writes brief notes on areas of strength and areas that need more attention, considers group and individual needs of students, thinks about ideas for subsequent classes based on reflection and on student feedback)



Who didn’t meet the objective?


What would I change?


How did I differentiate?












Warm-up Activity


Check for Understanding


Student Evaluation


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