Tips and advice on how to plan a lesson step by step
Those who are not teachers often believe that teaching just requires knowledge. However we all know that it is far from being the case. There is a lot happening on the backstage and planning is part of it. Here are some easy steps that you will probably find useful.
Define the objectives of your lesson
Start with those. Ask yourself the following questions: What is the topic of the Unit? How does it fit in the Unit? This topic will usually be defined by the curriculum you follow. What do my students need to be able to do by the end of the lesson? If you are a language teacher choose specific linguistic skills and grammatical points that will need to be taught. Identify as well communication tasks that will be required. Think about their prior knowledge. What do they already know that you could use to start the lesson?
Check the material you have. You will probably use a textbook but this is not enough. Look for other material online and even better create your own material to suit your students’ needs and abilities. As much as possible try to find authentic documents that will trigger your students’ speaking skills and engage them more. Include technology as much as possible but don’t fall into the trap to use technology for the sake of it. Your material needs to serve your teaching objectives.
How to organise your lesson plan
Have a progressive lesson. As any good story we need a beginning, a middle and an end. We usually use what we call the PPP format which means Presentation Practice and Production. It has to be progressive.
- Start with reviewing prior knowledge. Have a quick starter to refresh their memories such as a word search, a crisscross puzzle, a reading comprehension, a matching up activity. The starter is aimed at knowing what students already know and it can also introduce some parts of the language introduced later in the lesson.
- The presentation stage is the introduction to the topic. It is a teacher centered activity. Students start getting used to the new language progressively. Here we focus on receptive skills.
- Then short practices follow such as games to reinforce the language and to have students to integrate it. As much as possible vary the types of activities (kinesthetic, auditory, visual) and the mode of interaction (group work, pairs, individuals, whole class)
- Then you dig deeper to focus on grammatical skills for example. Remember that your grammar point has to be embedded naturally in the lesson. It shouldn’t come out of nowhere. You need to get students think before eliciting the grammar point so that they can integrate the grammar point.
- Include some practices to reinforce the grammar point.
- The final stage is the production. By the time you get to that stage students should already be able to use the language autonomously. In the production they use their creativity to reuse the language learned. You could have a writing activity (letter, emails, conversation), a speaking activity (role play, debate, conversations) depending on the context.
- Last but not least the plenary will help you check what has been learnt and what needs to be reinforced.
How to manage your time
Timing is important. You need to evaluate how long each activity will be so that they can fit in your lesson plan. Activities for secondary school students shouldn’t last more than 10 minutes each which means you need to prepare short activities to avoid boredom and keep them on task. I also suggest that you plan more activities just in case. If you don’t do everything that was on your lesson plan, never mind you will have something ready for the following day.