Building A Lesson Plan From Scratch
- May 5, 2021
- Posted by: Shannon Amaadar
- Category: teaching techniques
There are a bunch of different circumstances where teachers may not have any resources available for building a lesson.
It may be that the school hasn’t provided a curriculum or books and is relying on the teachers to develop their plan. It could also be that teachers are working from a language centre rather than a school and don’t have the same access to resources.
In my case, I work freelance with private students, which is becoming more and more common. It’s suddenly a lot easier for teachers to work online, giving them the freedom to make their own schedule as well as their own lessons. So how do you do it?
The best place to start is at the end. I had a friend who would always read the last page of a new book before she started reading it so she knew where it would go. I could never understand how she could read the rest of the book when she knew the ending already.
In the case of lesson planning and curriculum building, however, the end is the best beginning. It’s important to know your final destination so you can effectively set targets and milestones in between.
Working with private students means I have an opportunity to discuss their goals and expectations. We can build a lesson based on that, keeping in mind it must be realistic.
If you’re teaching a class of students without a curriculum, it can be trickier to discover the final goal. Each student will have their own expectations and needs so planning must remain a little broader.
It can be a great exercise to involve the class in coming up with that final goal, no matter how old they are. If they agree as a class what they would like to achieve they’ll feel an obligation to work toward it. You’ll find amazing results using this method. Your students will be engaged and felt heard.
Once you’ve decided on your final goal, it’s time to set your mini targets and milestones. This will be different depending on how long you have to work with your students. I have long term students that I set 6 months goals with, your situation may be different.
When setting targets for a class, you likely have either a term or a full school year to work with them. If you work freelance, often you’ll have set packages such as monthly, 3 months and 6 months for example.
Keeping in mind this time frame, set your targets reasonably. Daily, weekly and monthly targets are all important, no matter how long your teaching contract.
Planning the lesson
Now that you have goals and targets in place you’ll find it extremely easy to design your lessons. You should have a daily target, whether it’s vocabulary, speech, grammar or listening abilities you’ll know what you should be doing and the time frame you have to do it.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure you’re including the 3 elements of planning a great lesson. You can read that post and see the infographic in the Building A Lesson Plan article post.
Each lesson should include an element of interaction such as a worksheet, game or song that students can use to practice. The next element is problem-solving. This can be something like a puzzle, debate or discussion. Anything that encourages the student to use the information they’ve just learned. Then, you want to take some time at the end of class for assessment. Allowing the students to discuss what they learned, correct some classwork or homework as a group or rate how well they feel they’ve understood the lesson are all great ways to involve the student in the learning process.
Is this the best method?
I prefer the freedom I have working without a curriculum to the constraints of a guideline that may not be suitable for the whole class. I prefer to adjust my lessons based on student reactions and understanding. However, if you have a well-designed curriculum to work from it definitely takes a lot of the load off you as a teacher.
It’s ultimately your own preference and how well you can instruct your students. I don’t think there is a definitive right or wrong way when building a lesson, just the way that works the best for you.