What’s Involved In Planning A Lesson?

Start here for the background please.

Vocabulary can be considered a lesson of its own: see how to teach a box of words (coming soon!)

  • I’d start by deciding what I’d cover and what my aims were. When you are working with a syllabus / from a book, this is pretty straightforward.
  • I would read the text myself first to see what it was all about.
  • I’d come up with a few questions – which I would ask the class as a group or have them discuss in pairs before they started reading the text – to orient them to what it’s about generally and hopefully raise their interest in reading it.

    [Think about any twins or even siblings you know – are they similar in looks? Personality? What would be nice about being a twin? What would be difficult? Have you heard any strange stories about twins communicating without talking, or knowing what the other one is doing from far away? These are questions which an average person with a willingness to try could respond to; they are at least somewhat connected by theme to the text, and hopefully make students interested in learning a little more.]

  • I’d scan the text again to see if there were words (ideally no more than a few) that were important to understanding the text but which students might not know. Once I identified these, I’d think about how to convey their meaning and/or check that students understood them using concept check questions.

    If I really had it together, I’d include one or two of these words in my starting questions, so that I could explain it then and not have to present it like part of a vocabulary lesson; students would then already be using it in their answers. For intermediate level, I would probably not need to check in a dictionary – for higher levels I might do so, just to make sure I was conveying the essence of the word.

  • I’d look at the questions that the book gave – probably some that students should answer while reading – and check that I could find the answers relatively easily. If I couldn’t find them, it’s hard to imagine the students would be able to.
  • I’d do the same for any questions about grammar, and try to anticipate questions that students might have. Often the book questions are designed to highlight the main characteristics of the grammar point, and use the story as a context. I’d think about the practice exercises and the test as measuring sticks and ask myself if what the book presented was more or less enough. If not, I’d think carefully about what I could add and how I could present it without overloading my students.
  • I’d do the exercises myself to make sure I got the same answers as the teacher’s book, and ensure that, if asked, I could explain the correct/wrong answer in terms of the rules the book provided. If I didn’t think there was enough practice already available, I’d look for other exercises that I could photocopy for students to do at home. I would also read through these to make sure students could do them correctly with the background they had.
  • I’d see if the teacher’s book suggested good speaking/communicative practice for the grammar. If not, I’d look in another resource book – or possibly online – to find some.
  • I’d think about how to word my instructions.
  • I’d choose other activities not in the book which would round out the class – checking homework, revising, perhaps some correction – and decide when and how to do them.
  • I’d look back over my lesson to make sure it was balanced enough as far as student speaking time, not just me speaking or them reading or filling in gaps. If it was not balanced enough, I would try to adapt it to make it so.
  • Finally I’d go and argue with the copy machine.

Head back over to the original post for the happy ending, or at least some basic concluding thoughts.