Though I am still holding out some hope for landing the long sought after University gig, I am accepting the distinct possibility I will return to the same middle school I am currently working at…with all of the constraints it brings. With the prospect of another year at this establishment, I’m considering how best to retool my lesson plans before the start of the next semester. Hopefully, I can get some productive feedback. As of now, I will probably stick with a somewhat similar approach in the upcoming semester. However, I will make multiple enrichments and shifts.
First, I hope to review relevant literature. One field I have never really explored in depth is “Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL).” I hope there are some insights germane to my context in that field. Here’s a place to start researching: http://www.teyl.org/index.html . I also plan to get my hands on a copy of Nunan’s appropriately titled “Teaching English to Young Learners.” Beyond that, I’ll be reviewing a number of books and articles which I feel are relevant for my teaching environment. They include:
Joy Egbert’s seven criteria for effective lesson planning:
- Knowledge acquisition
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Creative thinking
Certainly applying such criteria is much easier said than done. However, it is certainly worth an exploration.
Eric Jensen: Teaching with Poverty in Mind. This is full of little tips for working with students from disadvantaged backgrounds. I feel it is appropriate to my current situation (can anyone say ADHD?).
Nation and Macalister’s Language Curriculum Design. I found this to be a wonderful read. Pertinent to this discussion is the authors’ 20 principles which include:
Content and Sequencing
- Strategies and autonomy
- Spaced retrieval
- Language system
- Keep moving forward
- Learning burden
Format and Presentation
- Four strands (meaning-focused input/output; language-focused learning; fluency activities)
- Comprehensible input
- Deliberate learning
- Time on task
- Depth of processing
- Integrative motivation
- Learning style
Monitoring and Assessment
- Ongoing needs and environment analysis
I will certainly not address all 20 principles. For instance, I feel it is very difficult to focus on strategies and autonomy in my current environment. However, generally there is room for growth even in a less than optimum environment.
At a more pragmatic level I will attempt to provide richer images (less clipart in the powerpoints), provide better explicit modeling, especially as it pertains to pronunciation for worked examples of target language items. Also, I will get a stop watch. During the last several weeks I have been reviewing/recycling old material with my students. The goal has been to have students complete various games (such as those found at waygook.org) at an ever increasing rate, following multiple reviews of one lesson’s vocabulary students as a whole class were able to complete a 20 question version of jeopardy in 57 seconds. I hope to develop more refined and workable methods for promoting “fluency development under time pressure” in the upcoming semester.
Beyond that, one thing I should do, but am somewhat reluctant to is administer surveys (i.e. likert items) to my students and co-teachers. I may or may not do that. I have yet to decide.
Thus, to my colleagues I ask: What steps will you take to prepare for the upcoming semester? In your experience what methods of pre-semester prep have been most effective?