Effective Reading in Exam Classes
by Jeanette Corbett
lesson plan 2
This lesson is the sixth in a series for this unit of Proficiency
Masterclass. As the group are following a two-year preparation
course we have been able to choose which units to do and when.
At the beginning of the year, the group decided on their chosen
eight units - this unit is the seventh 'That's Entertainment'.
Previous lessons have focused on different types of entertainment
using different texts. Therefore in the interests of providing
further contrast and developing their genre knowledge I have
decided to focus on a narrative text in this lesson also because
it is related to their needs.
I will use an extract from the novel 'A Man in Full' by Tom
Wolfe. From the novel students will read an extract of 60
lines. The main reason for my choice of extract is because
it is authentic material. Also that it relates to a difficult
situation but the students do not need to understand the situation
to understand the text. I have decided to use this extract
for the following reasons:
· It contains features of a literacy text, which I
have not altered.
· It contains different characters with an established
relationship and from the evidence, students can assess their
· The piece is written from the view of one of the
main characters, which leads itself to the follow up activity
· The idea of an awkward meeting is developed throughout
· The writer supports his choice of words throughout
each paragraph, re-wording the same idea in different ways,
which guide student's understanding.
regularly use authentic material with this group, as a change
of contrast from the course-book and as a means of exposure.
Other than practice exam material we have not looked at a
literacy text before. As stated in my Part 1, I feel it is
important to expose students to different text types to develop
their reading skills and awareness of the type of language
I chose to use the text rather than using an extract from
a published Proficiency textbook, thus creating my own materials
because I generally believe that as teachers if we don't look
at the material from the beginning but really don't understand
what the writer is trying to say - which in essence the aim
of the lesson today.
I designed the materials with the main aim of the lesson in
mind - developing their understanding by focusing on key phrases
in the text which are supported in their meaning elsewhere
in the text ( as startled as = huge chest swelled up). I decided
to include the clues, as a guide to understanding and as a
prompt for students to return to the text. The open cloze
was designed from an idea by Grellet (p.213 Developing Reading
Skills) - it is a semi natural response to the event and appropriately
tests their understanding.
of the lesson
I decided the focus of the lesson based on my students' needs.
When comparing exam texts (28th March), they said they find
the narrative text the most difficult. After which we discussed
the main problems with this type of text - this forms the
basis of stage 2.
Equally understanding the message in the text from which is
evident or implied is difficult. I feel it is skill which
needs to be developed for students to read effectively outside
the class. Therefore the focus of this lesson is also applicable
to the new students, who could regularly read in English and
attend classes to continue learning.
to past and future lessons
As this class is following a two-year preparation course we
have been able to focus on improving their skills while still
following he course-book. In the first term we focused on
speaking then listening. Now the skills focus has been on
reading (see attached timetable).
Over the past month, lessons have focused on developing their
knowledge of text genre, developing their reading skill with
reader response and combating their defective reading skills
by introducing strategies to deal with complex sentences,
defining vocabulary in context and identifying opinion within
This lesson today will continue to develop their understanding
of a text. Future lessons will continue the process of developing
reading and we will soon focus on writing in detail, using
their knowledge of text genre as a writing tool.
The lesson has been planned as a process, with the text being
the product that the students use throughout the lesson. Each
stage builds on the next as students deepen their understanding
of the text and them demonstrate their understanding of it
After discussing reading problems and possible strategies,
I will introduce the text.
First I will ask students to identify the type and provide
evidence to support this. I have included this because I believe
it is important to develop their knowledge of text genre and
their linguistic features.
Then students will read the text to confirm their expectations
and answer exercise 1. I will set a 5-minute limit on this
activity. As outlined in my Part 1 I have not included a pre-reading
stage as I believe it develops false expectations as to the
contents of the text.
Stage 4 allows the students to get an overall understanding
of the text by summarising what they can infer about the characters.
I have included this stage because I believe it is an important
exam technique to develop both for the Reading and Use of
English exam (Part B). It summarises their initial understanding
of the text and helps them concentrate on the contents of
the extract rather than thinking about what has happened before
or will happen after.
After check their summaries in pairs, students will complete
exercise 3 - developing their understanding of the text. As
this exercise is difficult, I will ask students to work in
pairs, allowing them to discuss the phrases as they work through
the questions. I have included clues with line numbers to
guide them and remind them to return to the text. I will monitor
closely in this stage and provide an explanation if required.
When they have completed the exercise, I will supply an answer
key for them to check their answers. Then I will ask them
about the pattern of the phrases throughout the text - that
the writer uses the phrases to support other information presented
in a different way and it's usefulness for reading. Students
will then assess the usefulness of the activity and whether
they think it is successful in developing their understanding
of the text.
Stage 6 gives the students an opportunity to show their understanding
by completing a letter from Martha, re-wording information
from the text. They will then compare in pairs before assessing
their performance against a model letter. I have chosen this
type of activity because I believe it gives them an opportunity
to use their own words, make their own language choices and
as Martha it is a natural response to the text.
The final stage of the lesson allows the students to become
the characters in a role-play. I have chosen to include this
activity because it provides them with speaking practice and
is a relaxed way to finish the lesson.
Throughout the lesson I will monitor and offer support and
assistance when required. If necessary I'll provide explanations
of vocabulary and a pronunciation model.
For homework I will ask the students to write a 50-word summary
of Charlie's character using evidence from the text and what
they can infer.
with all my lessons I considered my students' needs and preferences
as I planned this lesson. I planned it as a process - focusing
on developing their understanding then using their knowledge
to complete the open cloze letter. I hope that the lesson
will be a positive step in developing their knowledge of narrative
texts and perhaps encourage them to read outside the classroom.
the lesson procedure
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