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Planning an individual lesson or sequence of lessons 2

Planning an individual lesson or sequence of lessons

Things to consider when planning an individual lesson

When in the process of planning an individual lesson, it is important to take its aims, ‘shape’, and the techniques that are the most suitable for a certain team of students, into consideration. E.g. if a new grammatical structure is to be introduced to the students, the teacher would probably choose a Presentation, Practice and Production (PPP) approach or a Task-based Learning (TBL) approach. Skill lessons have regular shapes which can be used by teachers to organize lesson plans. As an example, for receptive skills, tasks/activities are usually planned for the students to do before, during or after reading or listening; however for productive skills, an introductory stage is usually present and used to set the scene. That means to explain and describe the context. Also, there is a feedback stage after the speaking or writing activity.

It is also important to think about the connections between the lesson aims and the procedures used by the teachers in order to achieve them. The materials which are available to the teacher, the lesson length and the information that the teacher has about his/her students aids them to find the probably procedures. However, the most crucial thing is to ascertain that all the materials, tasks and activities selected are the right ones that will assist a certain group of students to achieve the aims that are identified.

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Planning an individual lesson or sequence of lessons 4

Sequence of lessons

A certain number of lessons which are related to each other and are used to develop and improve language knowledge and/or language skills over a period of time are known as a sequence of lessons. Sequences of lessons may be used to develop one single topic or language area. They can involve topics or language areas that are closely connected to each other.

Structural sequence

  1. Revision: past simple
  2. Revision: present perfect
  3. Contrast: past simple vs. present perfect

Integrated skills sequence

  1. Vocabulary development: describing places (function: describing)
  2. Reading; choosing a holiday
  3. Writing: letter to a friend narrating holiday experiences (function: narrating)

Project work

  1. Reading and listening about free time activities
  2. Class survey and research: sport and entertainment
  3. Preparation of a poster display to show results of survey

It is important to consider a few things when we are planning individual lessons. These are:

  • Whether each step of the lesson assists the student to achieve the aim of it.
  • Whether or not the topic of the lesson will be interesting and motivating for the students.
  • Whether the activities and the materials to be used are the right level for all the students.
  • Whether we have planned enough activities for the duration of the lesson and whether we need any extra materials.
  • Whether we have planned too much to do for the lesson period and if there are any stages of it which can be cut out if needed.
  • Whether we have thought precisely about how we would begin or end the lesson.

A scheme of work

A scheme of work aids the teacher in planning a sequence of lessons in the best way possible to cover the school syllabus or course book units in the given time. Apart from this, it also aids the teacher to think about what he/she wants to achieve and what materials might be needed. Also, it helps to include variety across our lessons. The teacher and the learners need to have clear aims which are beyond the single lesson. They need to see how all the lessons are connected to each other.

Schemes of work are not as detailed as the lesson plans. A sequence of lessons must have logical progression which is learner-friendly. It must also have a good balance of approaches and activities. Just like a lesson plan, schemes of work aid us in identifying our aims and also make sure that we select the proper procedures and materials to suit those aims.

Planning an individual lesson or sequence of lessons 5
Planning an individual lesson or sequence of lessons 6

Things to consider when preparing your lesson plan

Make them as simple as possible

It is better to make small notes rather than using full sentences and it is unnecessary to explain in detail every single step. However, there may be certain important things that we would want to note down in complete form. E.g. questions used to examine the understanding of the students, instructions, prompts important for drilling, etc.

Make them clear
It is always important to make a lesson plan clear and easy to read and understand by using various colours, boxes, underlining, etc. It may be helpful to add drawings of how the black/whiteboard will look at different stages during the lesson.

Add variety

Variety is crucial in a single lesson or a sequence of lessons. Teachers should try their best not to repeat similar things in the same order, making the lesson monotonous. This will lose the student’s interest. For example, always starting the lesson with a dialogue (conversation) or always finishing it off with a role-play. There are a number of methods to do this. Given below is a list of things that can add variety.

Pace  – quick and fast-moving or slow and reflective

Interaction pattern  – individual, pairs, groups, whole class

Skill  – productive or receptive

Level of difficulty – non-demanding or requiring effort and concentration

Content – changing from one language point to another; from one subject to another

Mood  – light or serious; happy or sad; tense or relaxed

Exciting or calming activities – ‘stirring’(lively and active) or ‘settling’(quietening down)

Students may need more occasional revision than what is provided by the course book. A good way to ensure that we recycle language (i.e. reuse language) is by using a scheme of work and adding more frequent revision activities.

  • Usually, the units in a course book are arranged around a certain specific topic such as sport, relationships, etc. this may be a convenient way to link a sequence of lessons together. By using this type of sequence, we are given a chance to improve on particular areas of vocabulary. However, the students could probably feel that the lessons are repetitive. Therefore, it is important to have a lot of various texts and tasks.

A Practice Task

Match the terms given below (A-H) with the lesson stages listed (1 – 7). There is an extra one which you do not need to use.

Lesson stages
1.Teacher tells students they are going to listen to a poem by William Blake.
2. Teacher gives students a blank piece of paper and some coloured pens. Teacher asks
students to listen to the poem, read it aloud several times, and to draw the place and events
described.
3. Between readings, students compare their pictures in pairs and discuss reasons for any
differences between the pictures.
4. Teacher writes groups’ titles on the whiteboard and the class comments on each.
5. Teacher now asks students to find and circle a maximum of three words or short phrases they don’t know but that they think are important.
6. Teacher reorganises the class into groups of two or three people, gives each group a learner’s dictionary, and asks each group to choose one word from the board to research.
7. Students research their word in the dictionary, using the context to make sure it has the same meaning as it does in the poem.

Terms
A. Learner autonomy
B. Giving instructions
C. Whole class feedback
D. Setting the scene
E. Peer checking
F. Intensive reading
G. Reading for specific instructions
H. Gist listening

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