Mind the gap in your English lesson planning

Professional teachers love lesson planning. They can always teach a class using their full wardrobe of methods, techniques and games, but a detailed plan means they can deliver a richer and more modern lesson – after all, a teacher usually plans using their full potential....

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Professional teachers love lesson planning. They can always teach a class using their full wardrobe of methods, techniques and games, but a detailed plan means they can deliver a richer and more modern lesson – after all, a teacher usually plans using their full potential.

Whenever I observe a teacher in their classroom, I try to outline a sketch of their English lesson plan according to what is going on. I am careful to observe any “magic moments” and deviations from the written plan, and note them down separately. Some teachers seize these magic moments; others simply do not. Some teachers prepare a thorough lesson plan; others are happy with a basic to-do list. There are also teachers who have yet to believe the miracles a lesson plan could produce for them and therefore their sketch does not live up to expectations.

The “language chunks” mission

After each classroom observation, I’ll have a briefing meeting with the English teacher. If the observation takes place in another city and we cannot arrange another face-to-face meeting, we’ll instead go online and discuss. At this point, I’ll elicit more about the teacher’s lesson plan and see to what extent I have been an accurate observer!

When looking at English lesson planning, I am curious about these items:

I have found that Language Inspection is the most frequent gap in lesson planning by Iranian teachers. Most of them fully know what type of class they will teach; set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) objectives; consider the probable challenges; prepare high-quality material; break the language systems into chunks and artistically engineer the lesson. Yet, they often do not consider how those language chunks will perform within a set class time – and their mission fails.

The Language Inspection stage asks a teacher to go a bit further with their lesson planning and look at the level of difficulty of various pieces of content in the lesson. Is there enough balance so that students can successfully meet the lesson objectives? If the grammar, vocabulary and skills are all above a student’s ability, then the lesson will be too complex. Language Inspection allows a thoughtful teacher to closely align the objective with the difficulty of the grammar, vocabulary and skill. A bit like a train running along a fixed track, Language Inspection can help make sure that our lessons run smoothly.

Lesson planning made easy with the GSE Teacher Toolkit

If a lesson consists of some or many language chunks, those are the vocabulary, grammar and learning objectives we expect to be made into learning outcomes by the end of the class or course. I highly recommend reading what my peer Sara Davila has written about this in her blog. While Language Analysis in a lesson plan reveals the vocabulary, grammar and learning objectives, in Language Inspection each chunk is examined to determine what they really do and how they can be presented and, more importantly, to assess the learning outcomes required.

The Global Scale of English (GSE) Teacher Toolkit can be a teacher’s faithful lesson planning pal – especially when it comes to Language Inspection. It’s simple to use, yet modern and exciting. It is detailed and it delivers everything you need.

To use it, all you need is an internet connection on your mobile, tablet, laptop or PC. Launch the GSE Teacher Toolkit and you’ll have the ability to delve into the heart of your lesson. You’ll be able to identify any gaps in a lesson – much like the same way you can see the gap between a train and a platforms edge. Mind the gap! You can look into the darkness of this gap and ask yourself: “Does this grammar form belong in this lesson? Do I need to fit in some vocabulary to fill up this blank space? Is it time to move forward in my schedule because my students are mastering this skill early?”

The GSE Teacher Toolkit gives you the ability to assess your lesson to look for these gaps – whether small or big – in your teaching. By doing this you can plan thoughtfully and clearly to support your students. It really is an opportunity to “mind the gap” in your English lesson planning.

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