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Lesson Planning Essentials

Nina Sethi January 13, 2013

Lesson Plan Components

Essential question Learning objectives (standards) Relevant vocabulary Scope and Background Introduction/hook Main lesson/activity Assessment Closing/Reflection Extensions/Homework

Essential Questions
Essential questions ask us to consider big and abstract ideas They are not answered with facts or yes/no They are usually investigated over the course of a unit of study Beginners EFL students may focus on one question (how can I communicate?) for an extended period of time Examples:
How do we speak differently in different situations?
Why is word stress important for communication? How do I know when I achieve effective word choice?

Learning Objectives and Backwards Planning

Depending on your curriculum, these may be provided for you Its important to start planning with an objective Ask yourself: what do I want my students to be able to do at the end of the lesson? How can I provide instruction to help them be able to do this? Your objective should be a concrete skill You can phrase it as: Students will be able to.. (SWBAT)

Learning Objective Guidelines

Sometimes its helpful to have multiple learning objectives, such as one related to vocabulary and one related to grammar or syntax If you want students to be able to order food in a restaurant, you could break this down into two objectives:
Students will be able to use the following restaurant (or food) related vocabulary (its best to have a specific list of vocabulary words as will be explained later) Students will be able to correctly use the phrase, I would like.. and answer follow up questions related to their order

Vocabulary Lists
Its always a good idea to have the bare minimum of vocabulary related to the lesson prepared ahead of time Its helpful for you as you will be able to think of examples and definitions for the words

Its also helpful for students if you can plan to have the vocabulary displayed somehow
Visual aids of any form will really help the students make meaning of new vocabulary If you do not have the resources to make your own visual aids, you can ask students to help you, use old catalogues, draw on a chalkboard, or collect props- be creative!

Scope and Background

Scope simply refers to how you see this lesson fitting into the grand scheme of things Background refers to whatever you may have covered in the past that laid the groundwork for this lesson Its helpful to remind students of both the scope and background so they can make connections from previous learning and to future learning

Its also important for you to think about your lesson objectives this way so that they are all connected and relevant to each other

The lesson introduction should tell students what they will be learning that day and why it is important The introduction is an important time to build background Building background refers to making what you are studying familiar to the students so they will be able to connect with the material in a meaningful way If you are teaching them vocabulary and phrasal structure for a specific situation, ask them if they have ever been in that situation and what English vocabulary they might need to be successful
This can be an engaging way to introduce new vocabulary

Lesson Hook
The hook is exactly what it sounds like- how can you hook your students and get them interested and motivated? With adult students, the simplest way is often to tell them why this lesson is useful/relevant for them You can also use a joke, anecdote, song, picture, video clip or many other things The important thing is to get students excited about the lesson so you have their attention

Introduction Add-on: an Agenda for the day

Its also nice to give students an agenda or roadmap for the class This way, they know what to expect and can be prepared for different activities You can make this part of your introduction or simply a routine for every class Some teachers like to give their students the lesson objectives for the day so they know what they should be striving for

Main Part of the Lesson

This is also often referred to as the body of the lesson This part of the lesson must have some kind of activity component so the students can practice whatever it is they are supposed to be learning

For language learning, its helpful if you can start with a demonstration or simply by directly teaching the material (I do)
Then you can move into guided practice (we do) Finally, you can move into independent practice (usually in small groups or pairs, but independent in the sense that students are not receiving direct help from the teacher) (you do)

I do; We do; You do

The advantage of leading up to independent practice is that you can always stop at a particular stage if the students are having trouble If students are unable to understand the I do stage, this may be an indication that the objective is too ambitious, and you might want to work on something simpler Some classes may not get past the we do stage, but you can always pick up there for the next class

Assessment sounds very formal, but really you need to constantly informally check for comprehension throughout your lesson Assessment is its own section of a lesson plan only in the sense that you need to know how you will know whether or not students met the lesson objectives Assessment can be oral or in writing, just as long as you have concrete proof that students are able to do whatever it is you set out to teach them Sometimes assessment can be as simple as a checklist with all students names, and when you hear them use the vocabulary correctly, you put a check by their name

Comprehension Checks
When teaching in a language that is foreign for our students, we need to continually make sure they are still with us This can be done in many ways:
A quick poll to see how confident students are feeling (show me on your fingers from 1 to 5 how well you understand) Asking a true/false question and having all students answer with hand motions Asking students to repeat the directions or explain what they are working on in their own words Walking around and monitoring group/independent work to make sure students are on target Having students do one question of an exercise independently and then stopping to check that one answer before moving on

Closing/Wrap Up
This can also be a classroom routine with a procedure you do every day Make sure you stop the class in time to reflect on learning and wrap up (even if this means cutting short activity time) This is a good time to re-visit the agenda and see if you accomplished your goals for the day This is also a good time to have students do a selfassessment regarding the lesson objectives

You can also explain next steps (well continue working on this next time etc.) and go over any homework at this time

If students have personal goals or specific things they are working on, this is a good time to revisit these as well You can also ask students if they enjoyed the activity, if they would like to do it again, if they feel like they need more practice, or other questions that might influence future lessons Regardless of the age of your students, its important to get feedback so you can consider their needs Students will be more motivated if they feel they have a say in what they are learning

Extension or homework are just ways to continue practicing to achieve the lesson objectives Depending on the format and circumstances of your class, you may or may not choose to give homework

The rule of thumb for homework is if it is a good use of everyones time, its worth assigning it
Many different factors may affect whether or not your students do different types of homework, so its important to take these into consideration and plan accordingly Sometimes the best (most effective) homework is to ask students to try to talk to someone in English using the new vocabulary

The Best-laid Plans..

Even if you have the best lesson plan in the world, things can still go wrong! Sometimes students will have more or less knowledge about something than you anticipate, meaning that your lesson will take much less time or much more time than you planned Always be prepared for lessons to finish early Extensions (or ways to delve deeper into the lesson content) are very useful for such times

Extra Time: What to do

You will invariably face situations when you will have extra teaching time and nothing planned This can be a function of a lesson finishing early or a mishap that is out of your control (students absences, fire drills, technology failings..) Always have activities in mind as back up These can be very simple like writing letters to you or playing games (Pictionary, Charades, Telephone, Story add-on, Jeopardy, or other vocabulary related activities)

A Word of Advice..
Have a sense of humor. Mishaps happen, and as long as you are able to laugh them off and keep going, you will be fine! Try to plan activities that allow flexibility for different levels. Not all of your students are going to have the same needs, so try to have activities that are more open ended (working in a group to create something instead of doing a worksheet)

Know your students! Think about when they do well and when they have fun, and try to capitalize on those experiences

Lesson Planning Reflections

Dont worry about your plans looking perfect or being very formal. As long as you know what you want to do, youll be fine Flexibility is more important than detail in many situations Sometimes the best lessons are the simplest Questions? Requests?