This is the second part of a two-part series. If you haven’t read part one, be sure to click here to do so!
Recently, at Everyday ESL, we’ve been talking a lot about lesson planning. We’ve talked about the 3 Stages of Lesson Planning, and we’ve been digging a little deeper into what it means to Pre-Plan.
Since lesson planning is such a personal journey and is so influenced by a teacher’s personal preferences and needs, the way that an individual plans will vary greatly from teacher to teacher and classroom to classroom.
Nevertheless, I’ve learned a few things from creating lesson plans both from scratch and based on a curriculum. One of the things that I’ve learned is that pre-planning is indispensable. This is what prompted me to create The Busy Teacher’s Guide to Pre-Planning, which guides teachers through pre-planning and the decision-making processes that are necessary for creating seamless and engaging lessons.
In my experience, pre-planning not only allows you to create a better lesson plan, but it also gives you time to think and focus on what your students need from you the most.
There are 4 major steps in the pre-planning process. The first two (use and topic) are discussed in part 1, but today we’re going to be talking about the final 2 steps: language and review. Keep reading below to learn more about how pre-planning can help you to meet your students’ language needs and create review routines that will help to strengthen your students’ English skills.
Language: What Do My Students Need to Succeed?
You may wonder why language is the third thing I consider when planning out an ESL class. After all, I’m supposed to be teaching language, right? While that’s definitely correct, a lot of times language is learned more through use (such as when discussing a topic) than through explicit instruction, and there’s no point in teaching language that isn’t useful to your students and their lives.
At this point in my pre-planning routine, I figure out what language I need to teach in order for my students to successfully participate in the lesson and achieve the lesson goals that I’ve already set. This could be anything from vocabulary to grammar to pronunciation.
Sometimes the language is explicit in the goals I set. For example, I may decide that I want my students to be able to use English to discuss past experiences in a conversation. However, there are other times that it’s not quite as obvious. When that’s the case, I try to consider three things: what my students struggle with, what my students need in order to accomplish the lesson goals, and what I’m required to teach.
If I’m teaching a lesson on holidays celebrated in America, it’s not clear what language I’ll be teaching. This is a great opportunity to address some of the things that my students have had trouble with in past lessons or which I’ve observed my students making errors with. However, the lesson itself also requires me to teach certain vocabulary and, depending on how I’m approaching the lesson, I may need to address the difference between “We celebrate” and “My family celebrates.” This is the language my students need to successfully participate in the lesson.
If I’m required to teach a language point, I approach it in the same way that I approach a required topic. I try to figure out how I can incorporate it into my lesson seamlessly, and I try to figure out how I can make it more applicable to my students.
Review: What Information Are My Students Struggling With and What Will They Need to Recall?
Often times, review is neglected and just “thrown in” as a warm-up at the beginning of the lesson or as a time-filler at the end. I’m guilty of this as well. Pre-planning is a great time to think through what your students need to review and how it complements your current lesson goals. In fact, it’s one of the biggest ways that you can really tie your lesson plan together seamlessly.
There are two main factors that I like to consider when I’m pre-planning the review portion of my lesson. The first thing I consider is what I’ve recently taught and/or what my students have been struggling with. This is an obvious indicator of what information and skills need to be recycled and revisited in my classroom.
The second thing I consider when pre-planning the review portion of my lesson is what my students will need to recall in order to successfully participate in the lesson and achieve the lesson goals.
Continuing with the example of teaching a lesson on holidays celebrated in America, my students may need to use language about the calendar year (such as seasons, weather, etc). They’ll also need to be able to recall how to talk about traditions and use terms like “always,” “sometimes,” and “never.”
Once you figure out what material your students have been struggling with and need to review, as well as what material they’re going to have to recall for your lesson, you will have a good idea of how to incorporate it into the lesson. You may opt to use it as a warm-up or precursor to the new material you’re teaching, or you may need to use it to help you teach the new material during the ‘presentation’ period of your class.
How you use the review material will depend entirely on your lesson goals and your needs, and it will vary from lesson to lesson. One of my favorite parts of review is that you, as the teacher, almost always have full freedom when it comes to what, how, and when you use the review material. Have fun with this aspect of your lesson plan!
How you lesson plan will change and evolve as you change and evolve as a teacher. Your students’ needs and your classroom needs have a huge influence on how you approach lesson planning, as well. Nevertheless, the 4 steps explained above (and in part 1) are the things that I have found helpful to consider in every teaching context that I’ve been involved in, and I hope you’ll find them helpful too!
I Want to Hear From You!
What routines do you follow when creating lesson plans?
How has your lesson planning evolved since you began teaching?