It’s not rare to use a coursebook that students complain doesn’t have enough space for them to write or draw, that we feel doesn’t cover relevant vocabulary, or that touches only superficially the needs and interests of the children we teach. What do you do when it happens?

The first thing you should probably do is to remember that no coursebook will be a perfect match, because no publishing company or author knows your context and students like you do.

The Teacher’s Guide will provide you with procedures and ideas, but that doesn’t mean the job has been all done for you already.

You can and should make the changes you find necessary to match your aims and students’ needs when you’re planning your lesson.

Project driving questions that don’t appeal to your students:

Change verbs, add/remove elements that will make them right for your group. Ask students to make their own questions, connect them to lesson components, or encourage them to start their own wonder wall.

Too little space for students to write or draw:

Provide them with extra office paper if they have to work on charts, diagrams and other graphic organizers, make sheets larger (A3, construction, kraft) if you’d like them to collaborate. Prepare notes that you can staple or glue onto the book page to inform parents a given activity was completed outside the book. For drawing activities, make different drawing tools and surfaces available as far as possible.

A choice of activities that favors one learning profile:

Adapt activities to accommodate diverse learning profiles. Reading activities can be made more kinesthetic with the help of building blocks, balls, Jenga, TPR, getting students out of their seats, and more auditory in nature if students can listen to the text and say their ideas out loud before or even instead of reading it.

I’d like like to end with these wise words from Carol Ann Tomlison:

“There is no recipe for a differentiated classroom. Teachers construct differentiated classrooms in varying ways depending on their own personalities, the nature of the subjects and grade levels they teach, and the learning needs of their students.”

Tomilnson, C. (2017) How To Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms. 3rd edn.


  • Kenia Santos is a pedagogist with specializations in Art History, Contemporary Visual Arts, and Creative Education. She has been in the ELT field for over 20 years and worked as an EFL and CLIL Fine Arts teacher, teacher trainer, pedagogical coordinator and materials writer. She holds a CPE, a CELTA, a Positive Discipline Educator certificate, and a Train the Trainer certificate.