ABE Teaching & Learning Advancement System

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Language & Literacy Institute

This event is a two-day intensive training for ESL and ABE instructors and administrators from across the state. Language & Literacy Institute takes place in late January each year.

This conference replaced the former ESL Institute, bringing together ESL and basic skills/GED practitioners to collaborate with and learn from one another. With the advent of CCRS (the College & Career Readiness Standards), a new emphasis on academic language, and continued attention to transitions skills across all levels, the Language & Literacy Institute provides one way to address the persistent professional divide in our field between ESL and ABE, and to leverage the many assets adult educators bring to our work.

Language Instruction Study Circles

Our statewide survey of Minnesota ABE professionals reveals a great deal about practitioner strengths and challenges, including the ongoing need for professional development in the area of teaching low-literate learners. These are adult learners who are not literate in any language; they must learn English and acculturate to the United States while at the same time acquiring literacy for the first time.

To meet this professional development need, ATLAS launched a new study circle for teachers of low-literacy adult ESL students in Spring 2011. Since that time, we have developed several other targeted study circles to address particular practitioner needs.  ATLAS currently offers the following:

  • Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle I
  • Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle II: Next Steps in Designing Balanced Instruction
  • Pronunciation Study Circle (NEW in 2017)
  • Integrating Language & Numeracy Study Circle (NEW in 2017) - see Math & Numeracy page

What is a study circle?

Study circles are small learning groups of practitioners who meet to discuss issues of relevance to their classroom practice. Prior to each session, participants read a selection of relevant research on the study circle topic, and they may be assigned written or classroom- based reflection tasks to complete as well. During meetings, study circle participants actively discuss the readings and tasks and explore together how research can inform their classroom practice.

Here is what some of our participants have said about their experience:

  • “It was great to hear about what other teachers are doing in their classes. I have a list of ideas.”
  • “Really thought the research literature was relevant and interesting to discuss with others. Great to have the research organized in a way that is easy to get to and can be very useful beyond the study circle.”
  • “I liked hearing what other people are doing in their classrooms and what is working for them. It was informative and also inspiring!”
  • “I felt this was one of the most valuable professional development activities I have ever had. There have been a lot of them, but this is and will remain a high point going forward.”

How can I participate?

The study circles mentioned above are offered several times each year, depending on demand.  For details and scheduling information, see the ATLAS Calendar of Events.

Participants earn 20 CEUs plus a $75 stipend for completing all the requirements for the study circle, including attendance at all 3 meetings. Priority for slots is given to current paid staff of MN ABE programs.

Practitioners are also encouraged to make use of the Study Circle Guides, which provide step-by-step suggestions for conducting study circles no matter where your program is based.  The guides are posted to the right under RELATED RESOURCES.


Please contact ATLAS Director Patsy Egan with any general questions about Study Circles.

Please contact ATLAS Program Administrator Marisa Geisler with any registration questions.

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