A lesson plan is a framework for any lesson that a teacher has to compile before attending a class. The lesson plans are the products of a teacher’s thoughts about their classes including what goals they hope to achieve at the end of their classes and gives the different methods/ways of achieving the goals and most of the lesson plans are in written form (O'Bannon, 2008).
Importance of lesson planning
Lesson planning is of great significance to both the learner and the teacher in very many ways. The lesson plan acts as a guide to the teachers in order to efficiently teach the same subject and topic for a presentation. The plan therefore acts as a road map to the teaching process. It therefore keeps the teachers on track in order to accomplish the lesson objectives. In some other cases, through the use of the lesson plans, the teachers are able to achieve a logical content arrangement which in turn makes the lesson to be sequential thus improving the learning teaching process through logical impact of the instructions (O'Bannon, 2008).
The lesson plan is significant for enabling the early preparation of teachers making a smooth running of the lesson, this happens when the lesson plan has been effectively organized. The early preparation of the teacher enhances effective content delivery and arrangement of all the required equipment and resources for facilitating the learning of that specific content. Some of the resources and equipment that would be organized prior to the lesson involve computers, projectors, availing hand outs and the preparation of the white writing boards and even the semblance of pens.
The lesson planning process is important since it adequately provides an evaluation room and process for the teachers in their teachings and resource use. This is in line with the various components of lesson plans which include the objectives, the instructional activities and assessment/evaluation of the teaching process (Mitchell, Diana, & Stephen, 1999).
A lesson plan is important in ensuring time management. Through the use of lesson plans, a teacher is able to be guided by the time limits that are provided against each and every activity that is to be carried out throughout the whole lesson, sticking to the provided time limits enable the students and teachers not to exceed the timeline thereby saving more time for other activities. Each time that has been allocated for each particular learning content is professionally utilized by the teacher thus enhancing a time balance during the teaching-learning process.
Through the use of lesson plans, the teacher is able to realize the use of varied activities throughout the lesson. The lesson plan enlists the varied communication and instructional activities that a teacher should engage students in during the class time. Such learning activities include questions and answers, formation of groups for discussions, practicum, discussions, presentations and argumentative statements. Through this, the learners learning ability is boosted and thus learning becomes effective and efficient due to the application of a variety of practices within the single lesson framework.
Lesson planning is important in the sense that the plans at times act as the memory banks for the teachers. Since the plans have kind of short notes written on them regarding the subject content to be taught, the teacher might refer to them at the time of memory lapse. This helps the teachers not to give irrelevant or rather suspicious instructions to the students. It therefore further act as a memory defense and a point of reference for the teachers while teaching.
Lesson planning is a professional requirement for all teachers. A lesson plan is therefore a professional document that a practicing teacher or rather a teacher trainee needs to posses in order to deliver and work within their professional requirements. The ability of a teacher to make a lesson plan enhances the reliability and credibility of such a teacher in the professional teaching field.
Through lesson planning, the teacher is able to carry out an assessment of whether the lesson objectives have been achieved by creating and testing a balance between what the objectives of the lesson were and the probable knowledge that has been gained throughout the lesson time thus enabling the teacher to assess the importance and effectiveness of different strategies and resources in achieving the varied educational goals.
Lesson planning is a basis of future planning thus increasing the teacher’s future performance in the delivery of the content to learners. The content that has been taught to a particular group at an earlier date can be delivered to a next group of learners by gaining reference to the already existing lesson plans and short notes as the benchmark (Wong, 1998).
The teaching learning context
The teaching learning context in this case involves a case of children around the age of eight at the lower grade level of learning who are learning more than one language basically English language and other foreign languages. This is basically evident by the presence of writings on the wall marts in a foreign language seemingly Chinese with its relevant translation into the English language.
The theories of second language acquisition demand that the learning takes place gradually with limited output during the initial stages of learning new words.
In establishing a lesson plan therefore, I would prefer the use of simple models that seem basic such as cups, bowls, spoons and troughs as the learning resources since they are the basic materials that the learners are used to and thus are able to initialize their meanings at a faster rate. This depends on the theory of second language acquisition which states that the progress in learning should be from the less demanding vocabulary related activities towards the complex ones. Vocabulary learning becomes more effective when learners engage themselves with small work groups just like the ones on the wall marts since they are mastered first (Barcroft, 2001).
The methodology of learning foreign languages is largely based on the theory stating that it concentrates on simple words with their translations are effective methods of learning and should be reinforced together with relevant together with pictures and pronunciation with maximum avoidance of elements that would distract the process of vocabulary learning such as sentence building at the beginning of the language learning stage. (Nation, 2001)
In establishing a lesson plan for such a class, interactions would be a major learning activity since the second language transfer is primarily based on the principles of social interactions with the learners having a comprehensive input to the learning process.
The elements of lesson planning
The core of a lesson is the task and thus the task is organized into varied categories bearing in mind the fact that any vocabulary and grammar formation is largely dependent and increases the likelihood of learners’ distraction away from the task on the detection of errors or looking up languages in grammatical dictionaries. The basic outline of the task based learning lesson is composed of the pre-task, Task and the language focus and task activities.
The lesson or instructional objectives
These are the specific aims that the teacher has for the indicated lesson and should be achieved at the end of the lesson. These are the objectives drawn from the lesson content and should be achieved as short term objectives. The instructional objectives are useful in providing guidance to the teacher in choosing the content matter to be taught to that group of learners. The instructional objectives also guide the teacher on the appropriate selection of materials and resources to be used during the lesson in order to facilitate the learning in class.
Through the analysis of the instructional objectives, the teacher is able to design the appropriate teaching strategies and methods. Having understood the lesson objectives, the teacher is able to design and provide the set standards that can be used in measuring the level of student achievements.
The objectives are also significant in providing the teachers with the appropriate feedback about the learner and providing observable behaviors to the learners relating to the topic of study (O'Bannon, 2008).
The pre-task cycle
At this point of the lesson, the teacher presents whatever content is to be expected of the students in the task phase. The teacher primes the students with the key vocabulary and grammatical constructs. The learner becomes responsible for selecting the appropriate language for this learning context themselves. The teacher may at this point present the learners with a model of the task through personal involvement, presenting audio materials, video materials or rather presenting the learners with pictures. At this stage, as a teacher I would provide the learners with basic pictures and audio materials that are present as the available resources for such a learning context (Ellis, 2003).
The task cycle
During this phase, the learners are allowed to perform the real task of the lesson; this may take several forms and structures dependent on the type of task thus ranging from small group works, individuals and even stratified clusters of students. The teacher might not play a role at this phase thus changing to be only a counselor or rather an observer. This a more of student centered methodology and is significant in the second language acquisition since the learners need to be more of involved in the process than the teachers. At this point the students will be involved in recitations and group discussions concerning their second language thus their ability to acquire the second language is boosted. After the learner discussions and problem solving approaches, the learners compile a report which is then presented to the teacher and this gives the tasks they have discussed and the final conclusions that they have reached. The learners therefore present their findings in spoken or written formats (Ellis, 2003).
The language focus stage
This stage the specific features from the task and highlighted and a basis of work is instituted upon them. The feedback concerning the learners’ performance at the reporting stage is also provided at this point.
The main advantages of task based learning are that the language is used for genuine purposes indicating that real communications is able to take place. At the time when the learners are reporting their discussions they are forced to consider the general language form rather than the specific nature of other models. The aim of task based model is integrating all the four different learning skills.
Since the task based learning model is concerned with reading texts, listening to texts, role plays, use of questionnaires and problem solving it offers a great deal of flexibility thus leading more motivational activities of the learners (Ellis, 2003).
The methodology of learning foreign languages is largely based on the theory stating that it concentrates on simple words with their translations are effective methods of learning and should be reinforced together with relevant together with pictures and pronunciation with maximum avoidance of elements that would distract the process of vocabulary learning such as sentence building at the beginning of the language learning stage. The various task phase methodologies such as the use of group discussions and chart studies are very key in improving the second language acquisition process thus would form a basis of learning through the task based model.
Challenges facing teachers in the planning process
Lack of adequate resources
The lack of enough resources is one major challenge that faces the lesson planning process. Planning involves the infusion of various resources and equipment in the lesson content and activities. The available limited resources pose a problem when it comes to their utilization and planning for use. The planning of practicum sessions is restricted in such cases since the resources for such activities are not readily available thus limiting the achievement of such instructional objectives based on learner’s practicality and application.
The reference books and dictionaries are also limited thus making the planning for language studies a nightmare to the teachers.
The resources are not up to date
The available resources such as dictionaries and encyclopedia may not be up to date thus unable to provide the current information with the changing technological world. Planning for lessons therefore becomes a very heavy task in that the available data does not really match the standards of study. The teachers are therefore unable to effectively plan and deliver to the learners due to the large information gap existing between the updated and old school books.
Limited time available
There is a major challenge in time that is allocated for each and every unit in the schools. All the units are allocated same duration of time which really does not take into considerations the wider nature of certain unit syllabi which require a lot of time. Practicum lessons which require a lot of time are therefore allocated little time thus a problem with achieving the topic objectives.
Individual differences and exposure
Learners hail from different social, economic and political backgrounds thus planning for learner involving activities is a major problem when it comes to assembling technological resources which might have not been exposed to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This diverts the attention of the planner to use alternative resources which would not be effective. Learners have individual differences such as health issues, intellectual differences within learning institutions. Learners with disabilities require more time that is dedicated to them which is rarely not provided for by the school curriculum (Wong, 1998).
Insights gained for planning in the future
Acquisition of adequate resources and up to date
The subject teachers at various learning institutions should be at a position of making requisitions for the resources that are needed for the learning process. The purchase should be made such that the learners do not really strain for the resources during the lesson hours.
The resources being purchased should also conform to the changing structures so that they are up to date and with relevant information to help in the knowledge transfer and reconciliation.
Compressing the syllabus content
Since the time available is inadequate for covering the basic syllabus, the syllabus should be compressed such that only the relevant and crucial content is left for study. The teachers can also overcome this by only planning for the lessons in areas of available resources and for a limited duration of time.
SAMPLE LESSON PLAN
Barcroft, J. (2001). Second language vocabulary acquisition:A lexical input processing approach. Foreign Language Annals, 37(2), 323-363.
Chenoweth, K. (2009). How it's being done:Urgent lessons from unexpected schools. Cambridge: Havard Education Press.
Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching. Oxford: New York:Oxford Applied Linguistics.
Mitchell, Diana, & Stephen, T. (1999). Exploring and Teaching the English Language Arts (4th ed.). Boston: MA:Allyn & Bacon.
Nation, I. (2001). Learning Vocabulary in another language. cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
O'Bannon, B. (2008). What is a Lesson Plan? Tennessee: University of Tennesseee.
Wong, H. K. (1998). The first Days of School:How to be an effective Teacher. Mountainview,CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.