LESSON PLANNING Farrell, Thomas S. C. (2002) Lesson planning in: Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. A unit plan is a series of related lesson around a specific theme such as “the family”, “money”, etc. Planning daily lessons is the end result of a complex planning process that includes the yearly, term and unit plans. A daily lesson plan is a written description of how students will move toward attaining specific objectives. It describes the teaching behavior that will result in student learning.
According to Richards “the success with which a teacher conducts a lesson is often thought to depend on the effectiveness with which the lesson was planned”. As a result planning helps the teacher to: * Think about the content, materials, sequencing, timing of the class and the activities implemented. * Provide security * Keep a log of the taught items * Teach the class in case there has to be a substitute. There are different models of lesson planning. The oldest one is the one of Tyler (1949) in which the objectives have to be specified, the learning activities have to be selected and the method of evaluation is specified.
Another model is Yinger? s (1980) which follows a series of stages which starts from the problem conception to discover the goals, knowledge and experience of the teacher and continues with the stage of problem solution to end up with the implementation and evaluation of the class. However, research has found that teachers do not always follow the sequence of activities in a rigid way, and sometimes get involved in teaching routines or focus on particular students and the class is deviated. Some reasons to deviate the plan are: * To serve a common good * To further the lesson To accommodate to the learner? s styles * To teach to the moment * Promote students? involvement * Distribute the wealth HOW TO PLAN A LESSON Developing the plan The first step is to start with appropriate and clearly written objectives. An objective is a description of a learning outcome or what we want the students to learn. They help to guide the selection of appropriate activities and help provide overall lesson focus and direction. They also give the teachers a way to evaluate what their students have learned at the end of the lesson. They can also focus the students. when the teacher writes the objectives, it is better to use action verbs to set the objectives because they are easier to quantify. The next step is to decide the activities and procedures used to ensure the successful attainment of these objectives. This implies thinking through the purposes and structures of the activities. Shrum and Glisan (1944) proposed the generic lesson plan: I. Perspective or opening.
What was the previous activity? What have they learned? (warm up) 2. Stimulation. A kind of attention grabber which can be a song, a question, a picture, etc, as a lead to the activity. . Instruction, participation. Presentation of the activities, understanding checking and encourage active student involvement (pair work or group work). 4. Closure. Make sure students learn by asking themselves “what did I learn? How did you feel about these activities? 5. Follow-up. It refers to the use of other activities to reinforce some concepts to introduce some new ones. Opportunities to do independent work and tasks taken from the lesson as homework. Useful questions they teacher can ask himself before planning the lesson: * What do you want the students to learn and why? Are all the tasks necessary – worth doing and at the right level? * What materials, aids and so on will you use and why? * What type of interaction will you encourage- pair work or group work – and why? * What instructions will you have to give ans how will you give them (written oral, etc) What questions will you ask? * How will you monitor student understanding during the different stages of the lesson? Implementing the plan Teachers might get sidetracked by unplanned events. Two reasons to deviate from the original plan are when the lesson is obviously going badly and the plan is not producing the desired outcome.
Second, when something happens at the beginning of the lesson that necessitates improvisations. Then a contingency plan must be built. The teacher must monitor lesson variety (to keep the class lively and interested) and pacing (change the tempo of activities from fast-moving to slow). Pair, group or individual work can help to improve the interaction. Go from easy to more demanding activities. Activities should be of interest to the students. Ur suggests harder activities early in the lesson and the quieter ones before the lively ones.
Pace is linked to speed and lesson timing. To develop a sense of pace Brown suggests: 1) Activities should not be too long or too short. 2) Various techniques for delivering the activities should flow together. 3) There should be a clear transition between each activity. Evaluating the plan After the lesson has ended or within the lesson itself, the teacher can evaluate its success or failure. Think about what was good and why. Criteria for evaluating the lessons’ effectiveness (Ur, P1996): 1) the class seemed to be learning the material well ) the learners were engaging with the foreign language throughout. 3) the learners were attentive all the time 4) the learners enjoyed the lesson and were motivated 5) the learners were active all the time 6) the lesson went according to plan 7) the language was used communicatively throughout. Other useful questions for the teacher are: What do you think the students actually learned? What tasks were most successful? Least successful? Why? Did you finish the lesson on time? What changes will you make in your teaching and why or why not?