New Lesson Plans, One Week Later

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Last week, I made a bit of a splash. I’ll admit, I’m kind of proud, but mostly, I’m amazed. My last post, which was really just me reflecting on things that other people have already blogged about, ended up generating (with some retweets and mentions from some awesome people on twitter) in one day almost 6 times the hits on my blog that my previous highest day had. And the next day had over 3 times the previous record, too. I added followers both here and on twitter. So thanks for visiting, and welcome to all the new readers!

So now the (language-teaching) world is wondering, how did it actually go this week?

Honestly, it was kind of a disaster, and I am completely satisfied with that.

I don’t mean that my teaching was a disaster this week, but let’s just say I learned a lot about lesson planning this week. So here are some of my takeaways:

  • Music March Madness sort of messed with my first 8-minute section since watching two songs ended up taking more like 10 minutes each day, depending on the length of the songs and how much the kids had to say about them. But there are only 3 days left, so we’ll see how this changes after we’re done.
  • Brain Breaks are awesome. I started with simple brain breaks this week, and managed to do them all in the TL! (By the way, I took ideas for brain breaks from Sara-Elizabeth CottrellMartina Bex, and Maris Hawkins for this week). The kids loved them and over the course of four days, only one student asked what the point was. I told her it was just a little brain break, which made her happier than I expected. I could definitely see increased interest, attention, and wakefulness from my classes, and I’m hoping that as the kids start expecting a little extra fun each day, they’ll come to class excited!
  • I absolutely need to put the start time for each section on those lesson plans. I ended up writing them in this week.  I started from the end and worked backwards, mostly because I realized that I need them halfway through a lesson, and it just made sense to me.It helped me when one activity went over, I knew I needed to adjust somewhere else. Some days it worked better than others, which brings me to…
  • Maybe every single day doesn’t have to have two learning episodes. At the CSCTFL workshop, Sara-Elizabeth mentioned that her learning episodes for her older kids are usually 45 minutes each. Well, that’s about how long my classes are to being with. I definitely see value in shortening – it keeps kids’ attention and it gives more opportunities for input, but sometimes there are bound to be things that are worth taking more than 8 minutes. I ran into issues where there were activities that I felt deserved more time than I had planned for, but as soon as I started extending time in one place, I obviously lost time in other places. I’ve never been that good at following my own lesson plans anyway, so this struggle didn’t surprise me. I just tried to shuffle things around so that the activities I really wanted to hit stayed in the same section of each lesson – input or practice. I still think I would include a brain break in a lesson, even if I only planned one learning episode cycle – they are seriously that good.
  • I need to plan more “backup” activities for the above reason. If we don’t get to the second input of the day, and then the kids can’t do one of the practice activities I had planned, I need to have other options – I’m counting on my energy level for this, and my thinking on my feet skills being higher after a week of rest over spring break!

So, from an outsider’s perspective, comparing my original plans to what actually happened in my classroom this week, it probably would have looked like a disaster. BUT, as I try to convince my students, we learn through struggles and you can’t be afraid to make mistakes! I’m definitely not giving up on this! Have you tried it out yet? Are you planning to? I’d love to hear about it!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. secottrell says:

    Great reflections! Amy had the great idea to whip up a simple template to help with this and I tweaked it for my taste and we’re both about to blog it. Maybe it’ll help. 🙂

    1. Melanie says:

      Excellent! I can’t wait to see it!

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