A lesson plan is a detailed description of a lesson which provides the teacher with a set of guidelines to help them build a successful lesson. It gives the tutor a platform to stand on throughout the classroom time. But a good teacher must be flexible, and will often step outside the frames of a lesson, or change parts of it as they go.
In his book “ How to teach English” Jeremy Harmer says that a good lesson must combine coherence and variety. Coherence – so the students can see a logical pattern to the lesson, and variety so they don’t lose interest in the subject.
When it comes to writing a plan, every trainer has his own vision of how the plan should be structured, what should it look like. Short, long, with just a few pointers, or extensive explanations, cartoons, signs and so on, they will vary depending on the teacher and the particular course. But basically, all plans answer the same questions. Who are we going to teach? What are they going to learn? How are we going to teach them that? And what kind of materials and printed matters are we going to use for the purpose?
However, here we will focus on one particular type of plan, the well- designed and well- executed plan. After we already know, what a lesson plan is, now it is time to explain what do we refer to when we say a well-designed plan.
Providing we have already answered to the questions- who are we going to teach and what are we going to teach them we can start shaping our plan.
Format of a lesson plan
According to Brown, there are 6 components to the plan of a lesson.
- A goal
Every class, or a course aims at particular targets. To reach these targets we need some guidelines on how to do that.
It is very important to set tasks on which you will be working in the classroom time of the lesson. We distinguish two types of objectives:
In stating objectives, you should be able to identify an overall purpose that you will attempt to accomplish by the end of the class period. But there may be other supportive objectives that need to be stated as well, leading us to distinguish between two kinds of objectives: Terminal objectives are final learning outcomes that you will be responsible for assessing. Enabling objectives are interim steps within a lesson that build upon each other and ultimately lead to a terminal objective.
Terminal lesson objective:
- Students will successfully ask for directions.
- Students will comprehend and use the following 20 new words (vocabulary must be listed)
- Students will be able to understand the meaning of spatial prepositions.
- Students will produce questions with where and when.
- Materials and equipment
Equipment is very important in teaching. Many teachers use different realia and authentic materials in their classes. Every student is individual with specific needs, and every student learns differently, so a teacher must use all the resources that he possesses to ensure that the majority of his students will be able to unlock their abilities.
We have to make sure that our plan includes few elements:
- An opening word, or activity.
- We have to plan appropriate portions of time for whole- class work, work in pairs, teacher talk, student talk, and work in small groups.
- And we need a closure.
In order to determine whether our objectives have been accomplished or not, we need a feedback.
If your lesson has no assessment component, you can easily find yourself making assumptions that are not informed by careful observation or measurement. Now, you must understand that every lesson does not need to end with a little quiz or formal test, nor does evaluation need to be a separate element of your lesson. Informal assessment can take place in the course of “regular” classroom activity.
Once we have decided what kind of assessment we are going to apply. We should study the results and make adjustments in our lesson plan for the next day if needed.
- Extra class- work
Commonly known as “homework”. It could be anything, from simple questions to answer, to writing an essay or even, creating their own realia or authentic materials to encourage their creativity and motivate them to get involved in their own education.
Guidelines for lesson planning
- Writing a script
Writing a script can be extremely helpful especially for teachers without much experience. It doesn’t have to be a word-by-word script, but an instructive script which covers:
- introductions to activities;
- directions for a task;
- statements of rules or generalizations;
- anticipated interchanges that could easily bog down or go astray;
- oral testing techniques;
- conclusions to activities and to the class hour.
- Variety, pacing, sequencing and timing
The variety is important to keep the students interested in the subject. And it helps us to see our students’ potential, their strong and weak sides, their interests and ways of learning, etc. And this will give us more information to consider when building our classes.
Pacing means, to make sure our activities are not too short, or too long. We have to consider how smooth the task to task transition is.
We should pay attention to the order of class activities. Are they adequately sequenced? Do they follow a logic that will be easy for the students to see? The elements of the lesson should build up progressively toward accomplishing the aims of the class.
Timing is very difficult to control, which makes this aspect of planning the hardest. And it is not unusual for a new teacher to plan a class so tightly that they will finish long before the classroom time is over. Or the other way around, not to be able to finish the lesson in the time frame of one class.
If we finish. This is why, it is a good idea to have always some additional activity planned. Or if we find ourselves unable to complete the lesson in the planned time, we have to elegantly end the class on time, and on the next day pick up from where you left off.
- Gauging difficulties
Figuring out in advance how easy or difficult certain techniques will be is usually learned by experience. It takes a good deal of cognitive empathy to put yourself in your students’shoes and anticipate their problem areas. Some difficulty is caused by tasks themselves; therefore, make your directions crystal clear by. writing them out in advance (note the coflrments on “scripting” lessons, above).
Planning that ahead can help us figure out if our directions are clear enough for students to follow.
- Individual differences
As lessons and lesson goals are usually planned and aimed at the majority of students or the “ average” ability range, our lesson plan have to take these goals and expectations one step further. Considering that not all students have the same ability to learn, and their specifics as individuals, it is good to build a lesson plan which allows for more individual approach to our students.
We can take several steps to account for individual differences:
a. Design techniques that have easy and difficult aspects or items.
b. Solicit responses to easier items from students who are below the norm and to harder items from those above the norm.
c. Try to design techniques that will involve all sttdents actively.
d. Use judicious selection to assign members of small groups so that each group has either a heterogeneous range of ability or a homogeneous range (to encourage equal participation).
e. Use small-group and pair work time to circulate and give extra attention to those below or above the norm.
- Student talk and teacher talk
We should allow enough time for student talk in our classes, where our students will have the chance to talk and to initiate their own ideas.
- Adapting to an established curriculum
Our primary task is “not to write a new curriculum of to revise an existing one, but to follow an established curriculum and adapt to it in terms of your particular group of students, their needs, and their goals, as well as your own philosophy of teaching.”
And we should follow the goals of that curriculum as close as we can, but considering the specifics of our learners.
- Classroom lesson notes
It is good to keep your notes in order and easily accessible, because they are designed to serve you, and a stack of many pages might not be so practical to use. Most teachers operate well with about one page of lesson guidelines.
Textbook: Hello! English for the 6th grade
Module 3: The World in my Eyes
Unit 1: Legends and Myths
Grade: sixth Time: 45 minutes
|Stage/time||Aim||Teacher activities||Student activities|
( 5 minutes)
Learning the conjunctions-And , Or, But; usage of So and Neither; the new vocabulary for knights, legends
To capture Ss’ interest and to enable them to get involved in the lesson
|T directs Ss’ attention to the illustrations in the textbook and introduces the topic of the lesson by a conversation about legends and real stories.
|Ss participate in class dialogues
|To improve Ss’ listening skills
Ss learn the right pronunciation of the new words
|T introduces the new words-middle-aged; sword, knight, enemy- for listening comprehension task about king Arthur (p.68/ex.1) . T helps Ss with the correct pronunciation of the new words. T plays the recording once, using the pictures in the textbook at the same time. After the second listening Ss check their answers.||Ss listen to the recording and then answer the questions of the quiz
They work in pairs and individually
|To improve Ss’ oral skills
To reinforce the new vocabulary
To learn more about king Arthur
To pay attention to conjunctions and express agreement/disagreement
|T gives the new words-effort, noble, brave, equal, wound, kill, steal, decision
T directs Ss to the illustration on p.69 and asks them-Who is king Arthur in the drawings? Can you describe him? What is happening?
Ss read the text(p.68/ex.2)
T helps Ss to put the pictures in the correct order
After the exercise, T asks Ss to make a review of the pictures and tell the story
|Ss work in pairs and use different words, using previous knowledge
Ss read aloud
Ss try to formulate their own sentences
Ss try to make more complicated sentences using conjunctions and, or, but
|To reinforce the previous and the new vocabulary
To make Ss feel certain about their knowledge so far
|After the second reading the text T explain ex.3 on p.69||Ss read and answer the questions-orally and writing
Ss practice the new words
The lesson is structured according to the Ss’ abilities and perception possibilities and the T managed to achieve the aims set. The lesson focused on learning new words, developing different language skills- listening and speaking; reading and writing. Ss actively took part in all exercises, working individually and in pairs. The practice stage helped the Ss to exercise the new words and phrases. The illustrations helped Ss to tell the stories.
- Douglas Brown. Teaching by Principles. An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. Pearson Longman 2007.
- Jeremy Harmer. How to teach English. Addison Wesley Longman Limited 1998