Teach English in Caobu Zhen - Nantong Shi

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1. Introduction “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Benjamin Franklin Just as this quote suggests, if a teacher were to enter a classroom with no plan, they are unlikely to achieve any measurable success. It is thus of the utmost importance to always be prepared, and even though we may stray from the plan we devised, having said plan is an invaluable resource. The need for a lesson plan is thus indisputable, but how do we develop one? What do we need to consider when we are developing said lesson plan? That is what this paper will aim to discern. 2. What do we need to consider? The point of a lesson plan is to help the teacher ensure they cover everything the students need to learn in said lesson, to help keep a record of what has been taught, and to plan the best ways to teach the topic of the lesson. It is thus useful to keep the following questions in mind: · What do you want the students to learn and why? · What tasks and activities can be used and are necessary? · What materials, aids, and so on, will you use and why? · How will I check for understanding? · What instructions will you have to give to help them understand what is expected of them? Now that we know what we need to consider when developing a lesson plan, how do we put it all together? Luckily there are models of lesson plans that we can consider. 3. Models of lesson planning The first model that can be used is Tyler’s rational-linear framework. This model consists of the following four steps: 1. specify objectives; 2. select learning activities; 3. organize learning activities; and 4. specify methods of evaluation. An alternative model was designed by Yinger who suggested planning in three stages. These stages are 1. Stage one: This stage consists of “problem conception” where the teacher’s goals, knowledge, and experience are integrated. 2. Stage two: Is where the problem is formulated and a solution achieved. 3. Stage three: Involves implementing the plan along with its evaluation. These two models can prove useful in developing one’s own lesson plan, however, there is one issue that needs to be looked at first. According to a study by Richards & Lockhart[1] that looked at English language teachers who actually devised lesson plans, most of said teachers had a tendency to deviate from the plans they had set out. 4. Deviating from lesson plan A study by Bailey[2] pinpointed six principle reasons why teachers deviate from the original lesson plan. These six principles are: 1. “Serve the common good.” This is, for example, where a student asks a question that the teacher believes to be of utmost importance to the class’ understanding. 2. “Teach to the moment.” We do not live in vacuums. Sometimes things happen and some of these events might be timely for the class. 3. “Further the lesson.” This basically means that the lesson plan should not become more important than what is supposed to be taught. 4. “Accommodate students’ learning styles.” It is impossible to create a lesson plan that will apply universally to all students, so when it happens that we discover our class might learn a new concept faster and better in a way that is not strictly speaking part of our plan, we should deviate and prioritize the students instead. 5. “Promote students’ involvement.” We are not infallible, and sometimes something might look good on paper but does not work well in practice. Our lesson plan might prove to be boring for the students and when this happens it is more important to regain the student’s attention than it is to stick to a plan. 6. “Distribute the wealth.” This is where the class has been dominated by some students and the shyer ones have been uninvolved, in such cases it is okay to deviate from the plan in order to get the shyer students more involved in the process. 5. Generic Components Now that we know lesson plans are invaluable tools, and yet, it is acceptable to deviate from said plan, where does that leave us? Well, Thomas Farrell[3] suggests that we use Shrum and Glisan’s (1994) adaptation of the Hunter and Russell (1977) model. This model contains the following: Opening The teacher asks the students: What was the previous activity (what was previously learned)? What concepts have they learned? The teacher then gives a preview of the new lesson. Stimulation The teacher (a) poses a question to get the students thinking about the coming activity; (b) helps the students to relate the activity to their lives; (c) begins with an attention grabber: an anecdote, a little scene acted out by peer teachers or lay assistants, a picture, or a song; and (d) uses it as a lead into the activity. Instruction/participation The teacher presents the activity, checks for student understanding, and encourages active student involvement. Teachers can get students to interact with the use of pair-work and/or group work. Closure For this phase, the teacher checks what the students have learned by asking questions such as “What did you learn?” and “How did you feel about these activities?” The teacher then gives a preview of the possibilities for future lessons. Follow-up The last phase of the lesson has the teacher using other activities to reinforce some concepts and even to introduce some new ones. The teacher gives the students opportunities to do independent work and can set certain activities or tasks taken from the lesson as homework. 6.Conclusion Lesson plans help in many ways but they shouldn’t become anchors or impediments to what students are supposed to learn. That being said, to at least have a plan will help to ensure we don’t forget anything and will help us keep a record as well as be useful to any substitutes that might need to take our class last second. References [1] Richards, J. C., & Lockhart, C. (1994). Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [2] Bailey, K. M. (1986). The best-laid plans: Teachers’ in-class decisions to depart from their lesson plans. In K. M. Bailey & D. Nunan (Eds.), Voices from the language classroom: qualitative research in second language classrooms (pp. 15–40 ). New York: Cambridge University Press. [3] Farrel, Thomas S.C. (2002). Lesson Planning. In Jack C. Richards & Willy A. Renandya Methodology in Language Teaching: An Anthology of Current Practice (p33-34) New York: Cambridge University Press.