Hi all - Thank you for all your posts in September. Here are the blog topics for October 2015.

We had some fantastic posts in September and it was great to see so many of you sharing your stories about how and why you became teachers.

This month we are focusing exclusively on Planning lessons and courses. The British Council's new continuing professional development framework includes 12 professional practices and planning lessons and courses is one of these. We thought it would it would be interesting to look at some of the elements included in this aspect of teaching, which is a skill that can sometimes be overlooked after initial teacher training has finished.

Happy blogging!

Topic 1

Gamification is a term that has been around for a few years and much has been written about its usefulness in an educational context. To what extent do incorporate game-based elements into your planning and what is the impact of this on your students’ learning?

Topic 2

In the British Council’s new CPD Framework, being able to ‘describe how a lesson is linked to those before and after it’ is one of the elements in Planning lessons and courses. Often called ’timetable fit’, this is covered and expected on most teacher training courses, but it tends to become less thought about in day-to-day teaching. In your planning, how much do you plan for a sequence of lessons and incorporate recycling of previous language or skills into what your learners do?

Topic 3

Helping learners develop specific learning strategies can provide a useful focus for developing learner autonomy. How much do you incorporate a focus ‘learner training’ into your plans?

Topic 4

To what extent do you reflect on how well a lesson went? Do you keep notes, a diary or post on your own blog? Are there opportunities for sharing ideas and reflection where you work, either formally or informally? What techniques would you recommend for teachers to reflect on a lesson- this could either be while to class is taking place or afterwards?

Comments

At my school we have now embedded a policy for encouraging learner autonomy and a timetabled learner training slot. After initially wondering how this could be fitted into an already packed weekly timetable for our full-time students, who all do a short progress test on Friday mornings, at Wimbledon School of English we realised that the logic of following the test with some self-reflection and some study skills work was undeniably good. First we ask students to complete a short self-reflection about what they have found useful, easy or difficult, and then to decide what they will do to help overcome their difficulties. We make suggestions as to how to do this. This runs on a four-weekly cycle leading to an individual monthly tutorial with the class teacher. Student feedback indicates that generally they find this process very useful as it helps them focus on particular areas for further study.
The next stage in the Friday lesson is a focus on study skills. This could be deliberately designed to follow on from some difficult area of the week's studies and could, for example suggest writing personal sentences using the grammar of the week, or it could be a reminder of different ways to record and learn vocabulary.
Sometimes students record that they found writing generally a problem and we may suggest that they write for five minutes every day. This does not have to be structured writing, It can be a diary, an e mail to a friend, or just a stream of consciousness! We then suggest that they review their writing and notice how often the have, without really thinking about it, used language and vocabulary they have recently learned. The students are often surprised how much there is evidence of this!
There are countless different study skills to teach, sometimes starting with the need to train students how to use their study folders, dividers and notebooks! We are grateful to our ADOS for choosing this area of study as part of his DELTM and for his quiet persistence in encouraging us to take us his ideas. It really is rewarding when we see our students make progress as a result.

Hi,

I'm new here...but I'll try to do my best!

Well, I try to incorporate game-based elements into my planning all the time because children love "Gaming". They usually don't understand the great impact it has in their learning process but we, as teachers, understand it very well. They can learn efficiently if they think they are playing a game.

Planning for a sequence of lessons and incorporating recycling of previous language or skills into what my learners do is something I usually do. It's very important making our students realize that learning a language is a sequence of knwoldegement, this is, we cannot forget what we did last week because it is useful in today's lesson. Besides, I try to stimulate them with activities which incorporate recycling of previous language or skills.

Being an independent learner is reaaly important. Teachers should always be worried with the process of learning and not with the end of it. By incorporating skills as Predicting, Guessing, Experimenting, Self Evaluating,... in my classes, I am leading students to the "learner training" and they feel it is worth it.

Reflecting on how well a lesson went must be a priority for us. We should do it while the class is taking place. We can easily understand it if we try to understand childrens' performance and happiness while doing the tasks we offer. Planning shouldn't be a rigid process, it should be flexible in order to let us change while reflecting. As classes go on, we should ask ourselves: is the aim of my class achieved? Are the working materials stimulating students? Am I being a guider in their learning? Am I giving constructive positive feedback to the ones who are not so able? Should I try a different activity with that student over there? Are they bored?.
I try to share my reflections with some teachers informally and this is really important, since we sometimes think we are on the right way and a really nice talk makes understand the other way round!

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