Sara Davila is a Learning and Language Acquisition Expert. She is also a teacher, materials writer, researcher, and teacher trainer who has worked in a variety of contexts in the education field. In her second instalment in this series talking about her top ten uses of the Global Scale of English (GSE) Teacher Toolkit, Sara looks at how teachers can use the toolkit for lesson planning inspiration.
#9 Lesson planning inspiration
Most language teachers will have experienced the challenge of adding excitement to their lesson planning, while still ensuring that learning is leading to meaningful results. The GSE Teacher Toolkit offers a quick way to get inspired and augment your lessons with new concepts and ideas.
But how exactly does it help you plan your lessons more creatively?
First, it encourages you to consider a few questions around the content you want to introduce:
- What concepts have my students mastered?
- What is a concept that my students have been exposed to, but is an area that is unmastered?
- How can I use what my students know to reinforce their skills that need strengthened?
The answers to these questions will be heavily informed by your current curriculum, as well as your specific knowledge of your students’ abilities. In order to answer the first two questions, it’s a good idea to consider:
- The scope and sequence of the coursebook that you’re using
- The classroom syllabus you’ve created
- The institutional learning objectives that have been outlined by the school
Using Scope and Sequence for skills targeting
Looking at the coursebook and understanding what skills your students have developed is one way to help you target the right skill to push some new progress in areas where there is still weakness.
Let’s take a look at how this might work in practice. Here is a scope and sequence from the series University Success, at the Pre-Intermediate Level (B1-B1+):
- As the teacher of this course, you know your students have already completed Bioethics and Business Design in Part 1.
- In these two units the students built skills like actively listening to an academic lecture, and actively participating in a discussion.
- In class you can see them taking notes and answering discussion questions with more confidence. The class has also covered Zoology, which built some summarizing skills. But even though the class is moving on to new work, they are still struggling with summarizing information.
So let’s return to the content questions:
1. What concepts have my students mastered?
Your students have mastered the concepts of active listening to an academic lecture, note-taking, answering specific questions, and actively participating in a discussion.
2. What is a concept that my students have been exposed to, but is an area that is unmastered?
Your students have been exposed to the concept of summarizing information, but they have not mastered this skill yet.
3. How can I use what my students know to reinforce their skills that need strengthened?
As summarizing is a challenging concept for you students, you will use that to inform your lesson inspiration search in the GSE Teacher Toolkit.
You’ve answered your questions – so now it’s just a matter of looking at the GSE Teacher Toolkit.
Using the GSE Teacher Toolkit to inspire your lesson plan
The GSE Teacher Toolkit has an easily searchable database with over two thousand learning objectives. There are 86 results for summarize, mapped by CEFR level as well as on the GSE scale. This makes it easy to see which learning objectives are level appropriate for your students:
Here, you can see the skills associated with summarize to give you some ideas for your lesson. One of the first things you’ll notice is the mediation objectives at a level that use a combination of L1 and L2 to support the development of summarization as a skill.
This could provide you with the inspiration to incorporate skill development into the upcoming work on History. For example, while your students are learning to discuss the details of historical events, you could use mediation and summary to have students find a relevant historical event of importance in their home country (presented in L1) and during class have all of your students exchange the historical information in English (L2). Not only does this encourage great cultural exchange, it deepens your study of finding and discussing key points from academic text, while building even stronger mediation and interaction skills.
Before looking up “summarize” in the GSE Teacher Toolkit, you might never have considered a lesson plan that incorporated this skill. However, now the toolkit has suggested several objectives to review, there’s lots of potential to support your students’ continued language development, without having to waste any precious learning time.
Don’t forget to look out for the next article in this series, which focuses on using the GSE Teacher Toolkit for teaching vocabulary.