Some people ask me how I teach lessons in my class. How are they structured? So today, using PPT slides, I will show you the progression of a 50-minute class.
I taught this lesson two weeks ago to first-graders. In my class, first-grade Unit 1 focuses on practical and informal English. As a result, the first lesson of unit one is all about introductions.
All classes start with the same four questions. I find that it helps establish a comfortable routine with students and warms them up to speak some English. I write the date on the board. And most classes meet on the same day of the week. The answers are easy, but I love starting out easy.
Next, I take a brief minute to explain what the current lesson is about. Most of the time I try and elicit responses from them (e.g. “What other ways do we say “hello” in English?”
“Nice to meet you!”
Choral Class Dialogue
Fortunately, most of my students have a solid reading base. So I utilize some form of choral reading early in the class. I want to give them easy examples that they will speak together. In this case, I assign teams 1 and 2 to read the part of Ant-Man and teams 3 and 4 to read the part of Kim Chung-Ha.
At this point, lessons may diverge. Sometimes I give them a kind of jigsaw activity. Other times it is a fill-in-the-blank assignment calling for a creative response. Other times, I write my own dialogues and make students practice in groups.
Dialogues are often hit-or-miss in terms of student enjoyment. If students get creative with their voice, actions, and gestures, then fun is had by all. But sometimes sleepy classes sleepwalk through the dialogue with flat speech and listlessness. While this can make teaching a drag, at least it makes everyone practice English.
The rigor I demand depends on the level. In my A-level (highest level) classes, I often ask students to memorize the dialogue. For lower level classes, I emphasize action over pure memorization.
Groups stand up and practice in different corners of the room for 10-12 minutes. I monitor, answer questions (I love when they ask questions) and ask them to show me their actions. If they finish early, then I ask them to memorize.
After every group sits down, I roll the dice to choose what group goes first, then travel either clockwise or counter-clockwise until all groups have shared their dialogues. In-between dialogues I will take a minute to share a vocabulary word or idiom expression that groups asked about earlier.
Group Creative Activity
After the dialogues, I often assign a group or individual creative assignment. Most assignments are fill-in-the-blank. I want them to be creative while finishing the assignment relatively quickly. Since my class prioritizes writing over speaking, I often find it more efficient to supply the grammar and simply leave space for their own response.
In this lesson, I used my Misfit friends’ names and asked students to make a fake profile. I supplied the name, but students had to fill in fake information about that person. Some students made quite funny profiles. Others were more mundane. Some adhered shockingly close to my friends’ actual lives.
One problem I encounter in creative group assignments is social loafing. Often one or two students will give a full effort while other group members will sit quietly or nod off to sleep. One method I use to counter such behavior is to cut their group assignment into four or five paper boxes. Each student has to complete one element of the assignment and then the group tapes their project together. It allows for more efficient individual work while still producing a collaborative experience.
Once students finish their pictures and assemble their group assignment, I ask groups to present their profiles together. I often ask students to roll a die in order to decide who goes first.
And often that is all the time that we have. I finish by instructing students to return any supplies and dispose of any trash. I compliment their effort (99% of the time) and wish them well.
Some lessons vary in terms of the activities, but the general structure of procedures is more or less the same. I have brief warm-up questions, a brief topic introduction, and two activities that try to reinforce the concept. While my lessons may undoubtedly change in the next several months (a natural evolution in a creatively liberating job), the current positive feedback tells me that my lessons are trending in the right direction.