In her latest guest post, Nicky Salmon talks about how to write effective lesson plans on the CELTA/Trinity TESOL course.
What is a lesson plan?
On a CELTA/Trinity TESOL course a plan is made up of:
1.The procedure. This is what I will be referring to in this post. (See the example below, kindly included here with permission of Action English Language Training in Leeds.)
2.An analysis of any language –grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation features- that may be included in the lesson.
Why do I need to write one?
When you are doing a CELTA or Trinity TESOL course, you will need to write lesson plans. Actually, the lesson plans are an important part of your assessment and you will need to file them in a portfolio together with feedback from your tutors.
Do I only have to write plans when I’m on a CELTA/Trinity TESOL?
I have had to write lesson plans at other times in my teaching career as well as during my CELTA and Trinity Diploma.
There are plenty of occasions when you might need to write plans for other people as well as the plans for your own records.
A few of those times might be:
-colleges and schools go through internal and external assessments and inspections.
-line managers may ask to observe your lessons (especially when you are a new teacher) and so will ask to see a plan.
-you might be involved in peer observations with your colleagues and so will need to provide them with a lesson plan.
What makes a useful plan?
Before you read any of my recommendations or my list below, maybe ask yourself this question and make a quick list of your ideas.
There is some very useful writing on lesson plans.
‘Learning Teaching’ J. Scrivener (2005 Edition) Chapter 6.
‘The Practice of English Language Teaching’ J. Harmer (2007 Edition) Part 8, Chapter 21
‘Teach EFL’ D. Riddell (2010 Edition) Chapters 17-20
From the viewpoint of a CELTA trainer
My main work is as a CELTA trainer. Below are the things I look out for and what I think makes a useful plan.
- Lesson aims: do these link to the stages and activities in the lesson plan?
Sometimes I ask trainees to use different coloured highlighters to highlight each lesson aim and then the activities and stages in the plan that are linked to these aims with the same colour. It’s a simple, visual way to see what the links are and how each aim is weighted in the lesson. If there is a stage or an activity in the lesson which is not highlighted, ask yourself why it’s there.
- Are the students on the plan?
This sounds strange, but often teachers and trainees write a plan purely from their own view point.
–Students will complete Ex.2 and feedback answers.
There is nothing here about HOW the students will do Ex.2. Will they speak or write? Will they work alone, with a partner or a group? Can they check together before feedback? How will feedback be conducted?
- Make it easy to follow and make it useful.
Remember that a plan needs to be useful to you as you teach! It also needs to be clear enough for observers to follow and perhaps for another teacher to use if you were ill or unable to teach the lesson.
Try not to describe in paragraphs on the plan. For example:
First I will put the students into pairs with the person sitting next to them and give students the handout and ask them to complete Ex.2 in with their partner. Then I will monitor to offer help and encouragement as they work. I am going to stand at the front of the class and make sure I observed everyone and help people if they need me.
Instead maybe use bullet points that will be easier to read.
- Circulate handouts for Ex.2. SS work in pairs to agree, complete gaps in text and check answers.
- Teacher monitor to check and support.
Don’t forget to add
- Materials- What page? What task? What handout? What picture?
- Interaction patterns (pairs, whole class mingle, etc )
- Make sure you have clear stages on the plan.
This makes it easier to achieve your lesson aims and see the ‘shape’ and ‘flow’ of the lesson.
If you have clear stages you can recognise a point to each one and the link to your lesson aims (see point 1 above).
- Rule a line across the plan to show clearly where each stage finishes and the next begins.
- Provide a clear stage name. For example, Reading for Gist, Freer Practice, Introduction.
- Provide a clear stage aim for each stage. For example (using the stage names above),
-to provide students with practice in reading for gist and activate their interest further.
-to encourage freer practice of the target language in the context of personal information.
-to introduce the topic, activate interest and elicit personal experience.
An example template for a plan.
Have a look at the example template. It includes a front sheet (for your lesson aims, information about your students, etc) and then the landscaped page for the procedure itself.
Download this example template here
Good luck with your plans. Let us know if this has been useful.
Featured image rights: www.brainlesstales.com
About the author:
I have been teaching and training for over 25 years. I have worked in secondary schools, further education colleges, private colleges and universities both in the UK and abroad. My training experience is mainly with Cambridge CELTA but I have also worked on Trinity TESOL , Cambridge ICELT and delivered a range of in-service courses to practicing teachers.
I have a special interest in supporting teacher reflection and more recently, an interest in writing for educational publications and blogs. I’m really looking forward to sharing ideas through this blog and learning more about what teachers are interested in.