ABE Teaching & Learning Advancement System

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Adult ESL Institute

This event is a two-day intensive training for ESL instructors and administrators from across the state. ATLAS collaborates with the Minnesota Department of Education to identify topics of greatest need/interest and to develop and deliver sessions addressing those areas.

ATLAS hosted the 2015 Adult ESL Institute on May 14-15. Check out the presentation materials by following the link under RELATED RESOURCES to the right.

Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circles

Our statewide survey of Minnesota ABE professionals revealed a great deal about practitioner strengths and challenges, including the 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 need, ATLAS launched a new Study Circle for teachers of low-literacy adult ESL students in Spring 2011. We are thrilled to have Patsy Vinogradov, a specialist in low-literacy ESL and frequent ATLAS presenter, as the designer and facilitator of this exciting initiative.

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.”

Following the Spring 2011 Study Circle, Patsy developed a Study Circle Guide that we are now able to make available to all ABE practitioners. The Guide is posted to the right under RELATED RESOURCES.

How can I participate?

During FY15 (the 2014-2015 school year), ATLAS will again offer facilitated Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circles.  For completing this professional development activity, you will earn 20 CEUs plus a $75 stipend.  Participants must attend all 3 meetings, and priority for slots will be given to current paid staff of MN ABE programs. 

A Spring 2015 Study Circle is scheduled to meet at Hamline University from 1:00-4:00 pm on the following dates:

  • Friday, March 6
  • Friday, March 20
  • Friday, April 10

Register for the Spring 2014 Study Circle >> (coming Feb. 2)

Stay tuned for information about any additional locations, times and dates!

Practitioners are also encouraged to make use of the Study Circle Guide, which provides step-by-step suggestions for conducting study circles no matter where your program is based.


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

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

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