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Workshops on 8 May and 21 May 2018 at the LGTC – “Lesson Planning”

Our predecessors, Anna and Tasja from Team VI, started with introducing the concept of a lesson plan to the English teachers at LGTC after Nina from Team V had started with this topic. We decided to continue with their work. Once again, we invited the English teachers and those who were interested to take part. In total five teachers joined us for our workshops.

Lesson planning is one of the most challenging topics for any aspiring or future teacher and we realized that our teacher-students were very eager to learn more about this new topic. Since they asked us to use a certain page in the book Technical English (p. 56, the heating system) as an example, we decided to conduct our first workshop on that. Teachers (no matter where) need lots of best-practice examples before they can plan their own lessons independently. We wanted to make sure that the English teachers would feel more confident about beginning the long process of learning how to use and later vary the regular steps of planning a foreign language lesson.

As requested, we picked the same page as our predecessors (first page of Unit 5 of Technical English 1) for our sample workshop, because the heating system was soon to be taught in all of their English classes at that time.

1st Workshop 8 May 2018

As we wanted to ensure that all the teachers had the same premise concerning the subject of heating systems before we actually started to introduce our topic “Lesson planning”, we chose the following agenda for our first workshop:

  1. General understanding of the content;
  2. Introducing the steps of a lesson plan;
  3. Discussing each step;
  4. Discussing possible structure and content of the introductory phase.

Our workshop goals were:

  1. The teachers’ understanding of the content;
  2. Understanding the different steps of a lesson plan;
  3. Knowing how and what to do (in) the different steps of a lesson plan;
  4. Choosing suitable content for the introductory phase of this page.

The above-mentioned page contains a lot of technical information and terms which may not be readily accessible for teachers in every learning context. Hence, we started with discussing the content and the proposed exercises. The page in question deals with the topic “Heating systems”. It displays a house equipped with a solar heating system. The picture shows blue and red lines depicting the cold and hot water pipes. Additionally it contains each installation needed to make the system work.

Together with the teachers we went through the text. We talked through it step by step referring to the picture so everybody could follow. Then we dived into the first exercise that asks the students to draw arrows in their respective images to show and eventually understand the flow of the water in a pipe system. After a short discussion in which we argued over different methods to realise this exercise we eventually agreed on letting the students do the exercise in pair work to then present the results together on the board. In order to do that we agreed to use a flashcard of the image of the house and paper arrows (blue and red according to cold and warm water) to indicate the flow of the water.

After the working phase, in which the students work on the task in pairs, the teacher will initiate a presentation phase on the board. In this final phase of the exercise the teacher asks the students one by one to come to the board and stick the arrows to the flashcard according to their results of the pair work. If needed, the teacher is required to adjust the panel to assure a correct result.

For going through the first exercise of the page, we created a board panel showing a sample lesson plan for it. The template we chose came from Janina (Team V), who used it in her workshop How to teach with TechTalk. To ensure all of the teachers were paying attention, could follow, and most importantly got a sample to be saved for later, we provided copies of an blank lesson plan. With the help of this we asked them to make and add their notes.

After dealing with the column “Teacher-Student Activity”, which states the exercise and its execution during the lesson, the discussions on the time frame for each activity took up quite some time.

We recapitulated each lesson phase. For academic reference we used the general one by Wolfgang Klafki and added the concept of a presentation phase from Gunter Otto as follows (cf. references):

  1. Introduction Phase (introduction to the topic of the lesson)
  2. Working Phase (exercise for the students)
  3. Intensification/Presentation Phase

As we ran short of time after 90 minutes, we decided to conduct a second workshop on the same topic.

2nd Workshop 21 May 2018

For our second workshop we again invited all the English teachers and those who were interested in the topic. We were happy to see that once more four English teachers joined us.

First we wanted to pick up where we left off last time, so we created and handed out a list of the most important didactic terms. These were also based on the above-mentioned models by Klafki and Otto. The terms state the different phases and social forms for the lesson.

We chose the following agenda for our second workshop:

  1. Explaining the didactic terms;
  2. Preparation of the first excercise with those terms;
  3. Collecting ideas for the following exercises so that the teachers could get a feeling for creating ideas for their lessons themselves detached from the pre-set techniques in the Teacher’s Book;
  4. Discussing the distribution of content matter onto the phases

Our workshop goals:

  1. The teachers get familiar with the didactic terms;
  2. They know the sequence of the phases;
  3. They are able to use them for their own lesson plans and can refer them to the suggestions proposed in the Teacher’s Book;
  4. They get an example of how to conduct a lesson for that page.

While working through exercise 2 and 3 on the page,1 we focused on the social forms because the teachers wanted to revise them. So with each “Teacher-Student Activity” that was proposed by them, to customize the book to their particular learners’ needs, we asked them what kind of phase we were dealing with – introduction, working and presentation or intensification phase – to then choose an appropriate social form accordingly.

Our goal was to ensure that the differences between the phases were understood. We did not only explain those, but encouraged the teachers to think for themselves and come up with ideas themselves, with the help of the pattern we provided before. Furthermore, we encouraged diversity in their ideas by stressing that it is not necessary that everybody creates the same lessons. One has to keep in mind that each classroom situation is different and therefore the teachers need to adapt their lesson plans accordingly. We repeated that a well-structured lesson would contain all three phases and that they would need to build up on one other.

Ideally, teachers start every part of the lesson – activities, exercises, or tasks – as an introduction phase. This leads to a working phase for the students and concludes in an intensification or presentation phase (cf. Klafki, Otto). (Editor’s note: In more advanced language-learning classrooms, to activate speaking and practise fluency, one would also add the fourth “production” phase.)2

Keeping this in mind and having accuracy as a focus (because of the complexity of the exercises for students and teachers alike), the teachers will hopefully remember that after a working phase they also have to make sure that the results are correct. They should therefore grant visual access to the correct information for all students.

In our own experience, this is especially addressed to the students whose English is still at a basic level and who are therefore less likely to follow the lesson without visual aid. With aid, those students would also have the possibility to correct their mistakes and learn from them. In our case, since there are students at the LGTC who are not really familiar with the English language at all it would make sense to even provide Lao translations additionally.

For each part of the lesson plan, we asked our teacher-students to point out which social forms they would prefer for which phase, and this differed from teacher to teacher. This was a natural result, since lesson planning also depends on teacher personality. Lessons plan models are blueprints to work with to develop your own teaching style eventually, after a lot of experience and practice.

Overall, we concluded with the impression that our tandem-teachers valued the usefulness of our exhortations and already started using the concepts for their own lessons – also thanks to the work of our predecessors. We are confident that this will help them towards planning and conducting their future lessons in a carefully structured way.

Text by T. Wedemeyer, S. Roehm

Photos by T. Wedemeyer, S. Roehm

 

Notes

1 Exercise 2 is a follow-up task to check on the results of exercise 1 in which the students are asked to show the flow of the water in the diagram. Exercise 3 deals with the function of pronouns and that they replace or represent a formerly mentioned tool in the text that accompanies the diagram.

2 In our workshop we did not specifically include the fourth phase “production”, which is relevant for L2 (foreign language) lessons. For more detail, see Workshop on 16 November 2017 – How should we teach “Technical English” at Lao Vocational Colleges?

 

References:

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unterrichtsplanung Accessed 21 August 2018 10:19 CET
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernd_Ott Accessed 21 August 2018 10:21 CET
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Klafki Accessed 21 August 2018 10:22 CET
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unterrichtsphase Accessed 21 August 2018 10:22 CET

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