Teaching Tips 85
A lesson plan can be divided into two main sections; the preliminary information & the procedure. The former, the preliminary information, contains the considerations behind the lesson; the aims, timetable fit, assumptions, anticipated problems & possible solutions, aids etc... while the procedure contains the different stages of the lesson, the bit you refer to during the lesson. For examples of lesson plan formats, see the lesson plans on the site at:
For day to day teaching the preliminary information might be very sketchy & more often than not for experienced teachers, not even written down. One important section which trainees on initial training courses are encouraged to include is the 'personal aims' section. This is the teacher choosing a couple of areas to improve. Typically on training courses, these are classroom management-related; giving better instructions, following the receptive skills procedure, monitoring more effectively, correcting more etc...
Personal aims are essential for developing a critical self-awareness on courses but do teachers continue to set personal aims in their day to day teaching? If you do, then you are clearly a developing teacher. If you don't, then how about starting? Choose a group & over a series of lessons set yourself different aims. These could be like the ones mentioned above or include aims like helping integrate Maria into the group more, using the cuisenaire rods spontaneously, if you tend to always stick to your plan - moving away from the plan if a tangent comes up, etc... They can include anything that you feel you would like to consciously monitor to see if improvements can be made or an area that you have been meaning to sort out for a while - I'm sure there must be one or two of these.
And then why not mention to your students your personal aims for the lesson; 'Today I'm going to look carefully how I correct you & I'd appreciate some feedback on this at the end of the lesson.' If you choose the right group to do this, you will get some very interesting feedback as the students see how keen you are to develop your teaching, & see that you are ultimately looking after their learning.
Another way of developing personal aims is to invite a colleague into your lesson & ask them to look out for your personal aims. In the chat afterwards you will both benefit from an exchange of thoughts specifically on the aims.
Keep a list of the personal aims you cover & periodically return to them to see if there have been any changes in your teaching since the last time.
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Of the different stages involved when teaching a group the major stages include starting out & getting to know each other, settling down to business, keeping the group on course & closing the group. This week we'll have a look at the last stage, finishing with the group.
The obvious place to begin is to review the work covered. The students could:
1. Go through the timetables you handed out during the course.
2. Look through the units of the coursebook covered.
3. Review the end of course evaluation.
4. Fill in a blank timetable of work covered.
5. In small groups a poster could be made of the course work. This could be presented as a timeline, above the line, the work covered, & below the line things that happened to the group as the course progressed eg. Pablo became a father, Maria got a new job etc..
6. Course walk - the students walk around the room, recounting what happened at each stage of the course, commenting on how they felt at each stage. They could carry the timetable of work covered to help them remember.
7. Have a snail race:
8. The students could choose three or four times in the course when they thought they were really making a breakthrough. This could apply to learning aspects of new language or involvement in communicative activities. The students explain these moments to each other.
9. Language gifts - the students 'give' bits of language to each other as gifts. They write down a language item - present perfect, articles etc- one for each of their mates & then mingle & hand them out & explain why they chose that item for them eg. that student found it particularly easy/difficult, they answered a question well during that period....
10. Looking to the future, the students look at what they need to review in the near future.
11. Focus on reviewing techniques & study skills, plus recommended materials for future learning.
With more interpersonal group dynamic aspects, depending on how the course went & the people involved, the following could be carried out:
1. The students are allocated a group mate to write a reference for, focussing on them as a group member. Clearly this has to have a positive slant & only to be carried out if you are sure it will all come out well for all.
2. If you have been using learner diaries, the last entry is focused on a summing up & closure in terms of the learning & the group experience.
3. Advert design, the students imagine the course has been a television series. They design a poster about the 'series'. The poster could include the group photograph, the cast.
4. The students individually make a list of the things that they 'got' from the group. Followed by a mingle to see if they have similar ideas or they could swap ideas.
5. Compliments - used as an icebreaker/trust activity, it can also be used to finish on a very positive note. Students mingle & take time to compliment each other. You could give preparation time, three things for each of their mates. The compliments could be about anything, their accent in English, their dress sense, an idea they had....
6. Study buddies - assign study buddies to stay in touch after the course & keep the learning going, possibly before the next course begins.
7. Staying in touch - other ways for the group to keep contact would be to set up an internet-based contact; email, forum, website & chat room.
There are lots of other ways to finish a course. It is important as it emphasises that what has been covered is for the future as well as the present, that time was well spent & that there was more to the course than language learning.
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Ideal for quite low levels & upwards. A brief lesson outline: