Module 2: Lesson Planning

Supposedly it all comes together in one place: the classroom.
We take our planned lesson, enrich it with materials, use aids in the classroom and research using resources to bring more resources for our students. Everything we do has a purpose. Lesson planning does not have to be difficult. Check out Writing lesson plans does not have to be difficult document for help.

Many people often leave out the assessment or evaluation from the lesson plan, thinking that it refers to formal evaluation. Summative, or formative, you need to make sure that your students have achieved the lesson aims and specific objectives. Plan to gather some evidence in the form of student work. You may include a rubric based on the lesson aims. Students might repeat some activities from the lesson without the teacher’s guidance as assessment. Evidence doesn’t always need to be a quiz.

Writing lesson plans is an integral part of teaching. Too many beginning teachers and veterans consider lesson plans a tedious and unnecessary chore which they must do for their supervisors. Once they are working, they resort to lesson plans only when they will be observed or if asked to produce them for revision.

Frustration with lesson plans results from three sources:
1. They do not understand the need: the purpose and rationale, although explained to them, is not felt or shared.
2. Trainees find it difficult to write measurable objectives.
3. Trainees find formats vague or of little help. They struggle to make the plan fit the format instead of the other way around.

To address these frustrations, this post will address these sources.
What will well-planned lessons do for you?
1. Focus you.
2. Provide you with a plan and a back-up plan.
3. Force you to consider the purpose of the lesson and reason for each step.
4. Establish clear goals for the lesson that are understood by you and the learner.
5. Allow you to predict potential problems.
6. Help you design a coherent and cohesive lesson within a framework of a unit or annual plan.
7. Help you make a smooth transition from one activity to the next.
8. Provide you with a written record of the course.
9. Encourage you to examine the lessons critically and make improvements.
10. Added by Luis Felipe from Maravatio: Having the lesson plan in place helps you to stop worrying about what comes next and helps you focus on observing and monitoring to know better how your students are progressing.
11. Add your own in a comment……

Clip Art and photo courtesy of wiki.itap.purdue.edu

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HOTS and LOTS and learning to learn

Here in Mexico, traditional teaching methods are still commonly found in most classrooms from kindergarten to university level. Student-centered classes are few and far between, and teachers who guide on the side are often called out by their principals to make less noise.

With teacher-centered classrooms still prevalent, students are given few opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. Many teacher trainees in Mexico know that they would like to help change the status quo, but have not had the experience to know how to make changes.

By relying on the HOTS of Bloom’s Taxonomy, teachers help students go beyond simple repetition to using target language and vocabulary in complex tasks which promote the use of critical thinking. The addition of reflection activities also provides many meta-cognitive experiences for learners. Find out more about Bloom’s Taxonomy in these Scoop it pages:

His life
A description of the taxonomy
learning outcomes and assessments

Teacher trainees in the Universidad Michoacana were given the task to design learning outcomes for the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. A great example of their work can be found on Yesy’s Blog, http://yesyhd.wordpress.com/ and and on Malena’s blog . Please have a look to see what we are doing.

Another blogging educator from Melbourne, Australia just published an interesting post on her blog. I invite you to read Edna’s post at http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/learning-isnt-linear/. Please read and share what you feel about the development of critical thinking skills today in Mexico. We welcome your comments.

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Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy

As one of my mentors, Shelley Wright has a lot to say and has done even more. Besides writing several books and organizing and promoting Connected Educators Month (August, 2013) and maintaining a Powerful Learning Practices site, she constantly is formulating ideas that make me think.

Since our foray into Bloom’s Taxonomy and your responses on your own blogs, I have felt that we had left Bloom with a lot more to investigate. During 2012, Shelley wrote a blog post that I would like to share with you here, so you can savor the flavor of new ways of thinking, of teaching and of learning.

Please note that Shelley’s post fomented 98 comments. Have a good read with less teacher, more student, Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy.

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Is lesson planning a part of Mexican culture? A question asked by disgruntled teachers doing lesson-planning every Sunday evening

Hofstede’s Five Intercultural Dimensions

Do you consider the activity of planning lessons to be especially difficult?  Put your idea

about lesson planning on this poll.

The idea of planning ahead might not be native to Mexican culture on the whole. Most people nowadays do not create the equivalent of IRAs for retirement; nor do most go on vacation creating an itinerary, nor do newlyweds start to put away savings for their future children’s college education. How many people actually make travel arrangements or hotel reservations months ahead of time? Have you ever considered that planning for the future might not be a large part of Mexican culture? Therefore, as teachers, planning lessons may be a difficult skill to acquire, but a necessary task to perform. Have you ever considered that lesson planning may be a cultural teaching skill imported from different educational cultures?

With the world becoming increasingly global and connected, it is important to develop cultural awareness and how that may enable or disable learning. Cultural awareness may be described as a person’s capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. This critical capability enhances effectiveness in learning as well as interpersonal interactions in a wide range of social contexts.

As an educator from one country (USA) living in another country (Mexico), I find myself in crosshairs of cultural diversity every day. Even my interest in facilitating online learning has sparked cultural diversity issues in my teaching situation where most people through fear of mistaking and avoidance of the unknown refuse to learn about incorporating technology into their classrooms or do so with reluctance. Most people working with cross-cultural communication and intercultural training and coaching have heard about Hofstede’s Five Intercultural Dimensions.

Culture may be likened to the “collective programming of the mind,” making distinctions from one group of people (nations, regions, religions, jobs, governments, ethnicities as examples) to another.

What Are  Hofstede’s Five Intercultural Dimensions?

Professor Hofstede’s five intercultural dimensions are

  1. Power Distance : Measures inequality
  2. Individualism: is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups
  3. Uncertainty Avoidance: indicates to what extent people  feel either uncomfortable orcomfortable in unstructured situations.
  4. Masculinity: Masculinity versus femininity, refers to the distribution of emotional roles between the genders
  5. Long-Term Orientation: Long term oriented societies foster pragmatic virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular saving, persistence, and adapting to changing circumstances. Short-term oriented societies foster virtues related to the past and present such as national pride, respect for tradition, preservation of “face”,  and fulfilling social obligations.

CONCLUSION:

It is important to understand that the tool developed by Hofstede is just a support which may be used to stimulate questions and help people from different cultures to share information and discuss about meta-communication (communication about the communication process). It is not a way to judge since there are no good or bad intercultural dimensions. The tool may increase awareness about our own culture and others and help identify specific skills needed for candidates for expatriation or identify skills to develop to participate in means of communication inherent in other cultures.

So, does that help explain why lesson planning is so difficult to start doing when it is 7pm on a Sunday evening?

ClipArt by Alabama Learning Exchange

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Working with the teenage brain

If we remember Maslow’s Theory of the Hierarchy of Needs, we recall that the need to belong, the third level of the hierarchy, might help explain teenagers’ love of socializing. When teens confront English in school, they are often introduced to mere grammatical phrases that have nothing to do with their ‘real’ life.

In the context of teaching language, whether it be EFL or ESL, by providing students with a social context in which they can practice their new language skills, teachers can help students engage in their studies by working in social groups to determine grammar rules and practice the four language skills in collaborate groups while they are learning.

Larry Ferlazzo, who runs a blog in which he compiles great sites for EFL and ESL teachers, has compiled a great list and an article which I consider to be mandatory reading for  any teacher who works with adolescents. You can find it here.

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2011/09/15/teens-their-brain-working-in-groups/

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Why use technology?

Ah yes here is one of the thought provoking posts that I like to send out to you every so often. Through my twitter network of supporters, teachers and learners, I found this great commentary and review on an article which was published in the NY Times not too long ago. Check it out.

Collision Detection

It explains in clear language how technology enhances learning, and demonstrates different ways of applying wordles in academic situations, even in a second language classroom!

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A student-centered TPR application: Imperative forms

As teachers we are always looking for a way to improve our classes so learners engage with their learning process. Recently we were studying the different approaches to teaching English. I would like to share this post and incredible blog Movie Segments to assess Grammar Goals from Claudio in Brasil.  Claudio offers a truly student-centered approach to reinforcing and providing practice with grammar structures.

This is one more way in which technology can work for us to help engage our students. Check out this lesson and post what you think. Has anyone seen this movie?

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A great class to watch

In her post comparing a TEFL class online with her own suggestions, Adriana, a past TKT candidate, has shared a GREAT class that I recommend watching because it uses many motivational techniques that work. It is a task-based class, so the learning focus is centered on the students, not on the teacher, and involves the students on many levels.

Check out Adriana’s blog at http://arh1980.wordpress.com/

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Differentiation for different learners

After knowing our personal learning styles and exploring out multiple intelligences, we might come to the conclusion that we need to create lessons with several approaches to provide interest and variety in our classes.

For those of us who enjoy looking at photos, and remember that a photo is worth 1,000 words, here is a link to Ian James’ site where he shares a great lesson for questioning and answering based on photo-study, which addresses many multiple intelligences and learning styles.

Check it out.The Who What Where When and Why of Photos

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Don’t Motivate your Students

You are probably wondering what I am saying…and I mean it, don’t motivate your students. If you motivate your students, you are still doing the work for them of getting them interested. Instead, engage your students. Involve your students. Let them have control of their learning. How?

Let them make decisions about their knowledge. Let them set their own goals. Stop trying to control them, let them control their learning processes.

I recently took a good hard look at the typical school classroom in most schools in the town where  I live. In every classroom, the seats are lined up to face the front facing the teacher, the center of attention.

Students sit and listen while professors drone on, and once in a while students get to speak during pair work. Students in Mexican universities are required to study English in order to graduate, so they come in thousands (five thousand students registered this past semester in our Language Department and at times, hundreds are turned away!). There are no discipline problems, this is university level studies and they take it seriously.

So, what does engaging your students mean? This is what I think:

  • Asking them to reflect,
  • to evaluate,
  • to stand back and observe what they are doing,
  • to learn not only from their product but also from their process. If we say that life is the journey you travel to get to your destination, and the fun is in how you get there, then why do we place so much emphasis on the product?

ASCD author and Annual Conference presenter Bob Sullo says that educators could be more successful with their teaching if they invited their students to be collaborators in their own learning in this video.

Point in case: I asked my advanced level students to bring in their portfolio of written work they had done in the past year after doing an analysis of sentence structure (complex, compound and simple sentences). They were able to observe their progress and note where they needed to make improvements. Most of them had never had the opportunity to sit and reflect where they have been to see where they could go. The AHA moment was tangible as everyone learned and set new personal goals for their writing during the semester. Now that was engagement.

  • How would you place more emphasis on the process of learning?
  • Would you let your students design their own rubrics? Share expectations?
  • Give them a choice and so create ownership?
  • Go beyond the classroom walls?

What ideas do you have?

Original Toondo cartoon by author.

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