Articles, Blog

Professor Jack C. Richards – Lessons and Lesson Plans

January 19, 2020


hello today we’re going to talk about
lesson planning now planning a lesson before you teach it is generally
considered essential in order to teach an effective lesson and it often
receives considerable emphasis in teacher training programs although
teachers of course vary in the nature of the planning they do and the kinds of
information they include in lesson plans from my observations experienced
teachers generally make use of less detailed lesson plans than novice
teachers and often teach from a mental plan rather than a detailed written
lesson plan or a detailed description of aims and objectives and indeed studies
of teachers planning processes and planning thoughts have tended to report
that experienced teachers seldom start with aims and objectives when they plan
a lesson rather they start with materials or content and they think
about students interests and activities that may be required they’re also more
efficient in lesson planning and they often plan their lessons mentally with
only brief notes as reminders they’re planning thoughts are often too much
richer and more elaborate than novice teachers novice teachers tend to start
with aims in a particular statistic fairly closely to the prescribed
curriculum guide they tend to spend a long time preparing for lessons and to
use fairly detailed lesson plans which may include what they go to say what
actions they intend to take and even not they’ll put on the the white board now
differences that we observe between expert teachers and novice teachers have
been attributed to the fact of course that expert teachers have a very rich
experience on which to rely they’ve mastered a repertoire of routines from
which they can draw whereas beginning teachers have not in
planning lessons it teachers draw on their subject matter knowledge their
theories and principles as well as their teaching experience
now this can be understood as a process of transformation in a sense in which
the teacher turns the content of a lesson the subject matter into a form
that is pedagogically powerful and also
appropriate to the level and ability of the students of course experienced
teachers use these cognitive skills view like every day when they plan their
lessons when they decide how to adapt lessons from their course book and when
they search the internet and other sources for materials in content that
they can use in their classes the ability to do this is one of the most
fundamental dimensions of teaching one that’s acquired through experience
through assessing appropriate knowledge and through knowing what learners need
to know and how to help them acquire it so when I work with novice teachers this
is one of the crucial skills I try to help them develop while experience is
crucial in developing skills of this claim working with more experienced
teachers in a school through activities such as shared planning through team
teaching through observation in other forms of collaboration can also play a
very important role in helping less experienced teachers understand the
thinking processes employed by their more experienced colleagues of course
lesson plans are just set and they often differ from the lessons teachers
actually teach since there are sometimes good reasons for departing for a lesson
plan depending on the way lesson proceeds and develops however as we all
know lesson planning is an administrative requirement of many
schools and teachers are often required to prepare yearly term unit or weekly
and daily lesson plans while teacher preparation courses usually emphasize
the importance of preparing detailed lesson plans student teachers find that
experienced teachers often make different uses of planning in their
teaching they notice that few teachers around them spend time writing out
detailed lesson plans and certainly not ones containing formal aims and
objectives they knows as for its more common for
experienced teachers to be making lists of items in order to teach them or
jotting down rough notes or reminders to themselves about what they intend to
cover but lesson planning does serve a variety of purposes whether it be a
mental plan or a written plan one important purpose is to help the teacher
think through the lesson in advance to think it through here the teacher makes
use of his or her pedagogical reasoning skills by which I’m referring to those
specialized thinking skills that enable teachers to transform particular
potential lesson content into effective means of learning in training programs
the lesson plan also provides evidence of having done your homework or having
researched and analyzed language for teaching purposes but in addition to the
conceptual and cognitive processes activated through lesson planning it can
also serve a number of other functions these include for example to provide a
framework or a roadmap for the lesson perhaps to help think through and
rehearse the teaching process itself perhaps for some teachers a form of
security also to help map out the sequence and think and timing of the
activities that will take place in the lesson it might also require the teacher
to turn his or her principles and beliefs into practice and lastly it also
may provide a record of what has been taught so a lesson plan typically
reflects decisions about a number of different aspects of a lesson for
example the lesson goals what are the general goals of the lesson activities
what kinds of things will students do during a lesson such as take partner
dialog work or free writing or some sort of brainstorming activity the plan
typically also identifies sequencing the order in which activities will be used
including opening and closing activities the plan
will often also include information on timing how much time will be spent on
different activities grouping when will the class be taught as a whole and when
will they break up into pair or group work resources what materials will we
use such as the textbook worksheets or DVD so these are some of the things that
are typically included in a lesson plan this ones of course are very complex
events and lessons reflect the complexity of the processes involved a
successful language lesson there’s not necessarily one that realizes its lesson
plan because during the lesson often unanticipated things happen and teachers
often have to revise their plans mentally as the lesson progresses
classroom life involves multi-dimensional activities that often
involve events that are immediate and unpredictable and of course they also
occur in a public arena and may reflect knowledge of experiences and activities
that have been experienced over long periods however the experience of
teaching also enables teachers to develop their own personal theories and
principles that they try to reflect in their teaching and in their lesson plans
for example a teacher may arrive at two important principles that relate to how
to motivate her and reluctant learners such as make lessons learner centered or
the principal make learning relaxing rather than stressful so with principles
like this in mind as the teacher plans and delivers lessons he or she then
looks for opportunities to build these principals into his or her teaching
teachers often make use of a set of core principles which are reflected in the
kinds of teaching practices which they make use of and these principles are
based on background knowledge and experiences so principals can shape
practice but practice can also lead to new principals a particular principle
such as make learning fun may in fact shape a number of different forms our
class classroom practice now here are some
examples of some of the unplanned decisions that teachers reported that
they made during lessons and the reasons that they departed from their lesson
plans some had to do with timing where the teacher dropped activities because
of shortage of time or added activities to fill out time sometimes effective
factors came into play the teacher added an activity to liven up the class or
modified an activity to increase its interest level sometimes teachers depart
from their plans for pedagogical factors in other words they may change the
sequence of activities halfway through the lesson they may elaborate an
activity because they realize it’s not sufficiently clear they may change the
grouping Arrangements or they may change or drop an activity because it’s proving
too difficult indeed they may add an activity to strengthen the lesson
another way in which teachers depart from their plans is perhaps to add
something that increases the language focus of a task they may modify an
activity to change its language focus to maybe draw more attention to grammar or
pronunciation they may add an activity to provide a more language work so
teaching can be thought of not so much as the process of realizing plans but
more as a creative interaction between plans between student responses and the
teachers improvisation one teacher expressed it to me in this way she said
I always think of lesson plans is a kind of springboard I never write them out in
full and usually I just work from a few points I want to cover but I’m always
ready to drop my plans if something comes up that I see the students want to
spend more time on or perhaps they’re having difficulty with language that I
had not anticipated so I might need to spend more time on vocabulary or grammar
or something another teacher commented and some of
the changes he made during a lesson he said them I changed my mind
twice during my last lesson sensing that what I planned was too much for the
students I think I must have taken into account their
body language are subconsciously almost I’d been going to to get them to
complete worksheets individually as homework for the next class but then I
decided to get the class as a whole to collaborate and do it as a whole class
activity pooling their knowledge and it worked really well of course two
teachers may create very different lessons from the identical lesson
content through these kinds of elaborations that teachers create while
teaching a lesson so to sum up a lesson plan is not a fixed template for a
lesson since teaching is often a process of improvisational performance no matter
how brief or detailed a lesson plan the teacher has during a lesson the teacher
monitors a student’s performance and makes many individual decisions based on
how the lessons preceding these decisions may involve providing an
explanation of a concept or language item clarifying procedures to carry out
a task questioning students about language knowledge or indeed changing
the focus of an activity

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