Lesson Planning Tips

These lesson planning tips are for teachers wanting to make a change in how class is going, or for folks who are starting a new approach, beginning to introduce more of a focus on using the language in class to communicate.

You might well want to meet your students in the hall at the beginning of the mini-unit and tell them that you need to change up the routines for this “Listening Comprehension” unit.  Maybe new seats or even a new room arrangement.  

1.  Have an opening routine.

Some teachers need to get their pencils on paper right away.  In that case, you will want to institute a routine of their coming in and getting started with some writing right away.  Maybe give them a weekly packet so they have something to get going on.  It should be something very easy.  Choosing the words that match up with a selection of pictures for instance.  If they do not enter the classroom like you want them to and get to work and work with focus, then I might re-teach and re-do till they execute the opening routine as you want it to be done.  It is a little awkward to do this because there might be one kid that is messing it up for everyone, but you want the kids’ peers to be helping you to motivate the kid, by their frustration.  Eventually they will do what you want them to do, and then you probably will not have to re-do it again and again the net day (except that with some classes, you DO, ha ha)

Myself, I have the opening routine of letting them settle in and talk in English for a minute or so (sometimes more) and then having a clear signal to begin class.  I go over what we are going to do that day and the grades that they will get, and the objectives in student-friendly terms, for example:  We will have a class discussion in French about TV shows we like and do not like and then we will take a listening assessment about what we discussed.  At the end of class, we will turn these in for a grade.  We will also practice speaking in pairs.  Then I set them up (usually in English) with the materials they need and then I have a kid give a signal to start the French portion of class.  I let each class choose the signal.  For instance, some classes say a “catch phrase” and others sing a song etc.  Then we start the French portion and during that time I ruthlessly enforce the “no talking over” rule.  I literally STOP EVERYTHING every single time anyone interrupts me as I am talking.

2.  Provide input in small doses mixed with writing and speaking.

That means going super-slow in your speech and also taking breaks.

Many of your administrators want to see more student-to-student interaction.  It is easy to put that into the lesson.

All you have to do is, after a few minutes of providing input, maybe 5-6, have them jot down some things that they heard.  You can even do this together.  Then have them turn and talk and give them a sentence stem to use.  Give the instruction in English and the sentence stem two times in the target language.  It sounds like this:  “Turn and tell a partner a detail about X.  Say, “Aujourd’hui il fait…/Hoy hace…” “Aujourd’hui fait…” OK!”  

Then you can follow up with some whole-class questioning.  

Then I would suggest reviewing what was discussed so far, just simply repeating it while referring to a visual aid, such as pausing and pointing to the H-chart we talked about, with “Likes” “Does Not Like” and “Hates” at the top, and then giving them a written Quick Quiz on five questions.  I repeat the question three times during the Quick Quiz.  I generally tell the kids they can write in English or French.  But if your admin wants to see more output, I would tell them to try their hand at writing the answer in a French sentence.  (I mean, I would NEVER grade the sentences for accuracy so it is fine to ask them to give that a try, no harm no foul there!)

3.  Then give more input (about the same topic or a different topic) and repeat the whole process I gave above in #2.

You might put up a picture or two of a related topic, such as pictures of people watching a movie or pictures of movie ads in the culture or an infographic about TV/movie viewing habits or such.  Talk and discuss it for 5-6 min, and then do the turn and talk and quick quiz on five questions.

Then repeat the whole process again if time permits:  short 506 min of discussion/input, and then turn and talk and a quick quiz.

4.  At the end some closure is good.

Write and Discuss is like the BEST closure.  You can have them copy.  Even if all you do is write two or three sentences to summarize what you talked about, and they copy into their notebooks/packets, they have a feeling of closure.

Write and Discuss from my French class last year:

Write and Discuss with a Paragraph Frame from my Sheltered Social Studies class this year (starts about 34 min. in):

Or you can end with a final Quick Quiz.

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