Supposedly I am now taking a week of with the family, but beneath the still waters this sun-heated brain is processing the CELTA course at NILE in Norwich.

So to elaborate a bit on the previous post on the Lesson Plan Outlines (LPO) and why they are so key:

One of the strengths of these LPOs is that many of the stages within individual lessons are identical, e.g. the ubiquitous Lead-In. Also many interaction-patterns are systematically repeated throughout (such as pair/share followed by Open Class Feedback) so picking all this up within a few weeks is not as daunting as it sounds.

Similar to shells, different Lesson Plan Outlines lend themselves to certain goals more than others. In the same way that the two open class shells described in Newsletter #1 are well suited for content as varied as rote learning of historical data and icebreakers, but not for team building, specific LPOs would work well with systems, but not with skills.

An example would be the Test-Teach-Test which consists of six stages: 1. Lead-in, 2. Context, 3. Test knowledge, 4. Teach to improve, 5. Test to see check improvements, 6. Freer Practice to integrate. Excellent for functions, vocabulary and grammar, but not well suited for speaking, writing, listening and reading.

When I took over EFL at Sjællands Privatskole back in 2006 and had to scratch build the lot, I foolishly bought highly recommended materials which promised to integrate the national curriculum, be varied in approach, and so forth. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that great, especially the 4th and 5th grade material we found to be both boring, convoluted and unfocused. The text/exercise book combo just chugged along randomly mixing exercises to comply with Dpt. of Educations demands for variation.

I know that many teachers have this experience with materials, for various reasons. Many of us, and certainly CELTA teachers, rarely get to handpick our own, and auxiliary teachers often come in 5 minutes before the bell rings, getting some coffee stained coursebook jammed into his hand and told to “Just do page 45 with them.”

I tried to get as much out of what I had by using sequence of cooperative learning shells for all exercises, but now I feel these multiple interaction patterns might actually have accentuated that underlying lack of focus.

However, had I had something akin to these CELTA Lesson Plan Outlines, I would have been able to narrow down each 45 minute lesson to a hot spot that actually suited specific needs of individual classes – rather trying to put the aimless coursebook on steroids with tonnes of CL interaction – and have made the learning experience much calmer for my students, as the repetition of that handful of recognizable lesson plan outlines would leave their minds free to focus on the content.

I have already decided to make such an example lesson plan adaption with integrated CL options available in the August edition of the eCL newsletter, so follow this to get a look into the thought processes that goes into it and feel free to partake.


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