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by Erica Fischer on Dec 16, 2011

Lesson Plans for World Language Education

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! We hope your holidays are starting off nicely and that everyone is enjoying this festive season.

This past Thursday we held a fun #langchat conversation that we haven’t done before — lesson plan sharing and discussion. If you weren’t able to make it, open up a new tab and direct yourself to the #langchat wiki page for the chat before we get started.

Essentially, in the spirit of sharing around Christmastime, we wanted to provide a forum for everyone to share some of their most effective or entertaining lesson plans with other #langchat participants. We’ve shared a lesson plan collection on Google Docs for submitting plans and reviewing your colleagues’ plans. If you haven’t yet checked it out, be sure to do so at the end of the summary or throughout. There are some fantastic plans shared, and we’re confident you’ll be able to find or adapt something for your own class!

Thanks to everyone who participated and shared your plans or ideas, and thanks especially to moderators @dr_dmd, @SECottrell and @placido. If you weren’t able to make it, please enjoy this summary and feel free to post in the comments below. Also, be sure to let us know what you think about this #langchat format; it’s the first time we’ve tried it, and we’d love to hear what you think!

The Best World Language Lesson Plans

Participants shared lots of great plans and activity ideas, but it wouldn’t be #langchat without some insightful discussion on teaching theory as well. This week we delved into what makes an effective lesson plan. What should teachers keep in mind while preparing for their classes?

Lesson Plan Objectives

A common trait that many participants stressed is clear objectives. Students and teachers alike need to know what students are expected to produce at the end of the class or unit.
To create clear lesson objectives, try planning with the end in mind. Ask yourself, what should kids know and be able to do at the end of the lesson? Work backwards from this point as you plot out how you will get your students there.

  • Think in functional terms for your objectives. “My daily activities” versus “Today, we’re going to learn regular -er verbs” (@NinaTanti1).
  • “I can” statements are great, student-friendly rubrics that are easy to plan for and descriptive (@dr_dmd).
  • Create the assessments you’ll give students before deciding how to teach the material; this way you’ll keep the objectives in mind at all times.

Lesson Plan Content

A helpful tip is to make sure students are interested in your topic. Develop a hook for your plan that will get them engaged and participating. The more meaningful a topic is, the better the participation, retention and proficiency.
A great way to find themes or subjects that students are interested in is to poll them. Another trick is to ask your colleagues on #langchat. This particular chat focused on sharing proven plans, but every #langchat discussion is full of tips and tricks to get students engaged in class.

Once students are willing to participate, make sure that they do. Include communicative activities to get them practicing and using the language that they’ve learned for the day.

@SraSpanglish reminds us that not EVERY lesson need have speaking and listening activities, but certainly every unit should. As lesson plans are the basic building blocks for each unit, it’s a good idea to include speaking and listening activities as often as possible.

Remember to use lots of authentic materials!

Lesson Plan Pacing

Another important element to any well-designed lesson plan is the pacing of activities or teaching blocks. @suarez712002 recommends a 4-step process:

  1. Warm-up — optional, but a great way to get students comfortable with the language again. For kids, yesterday (not to mention last week!) was a long time ago.
  2. Presentation — introduce and model the language for your students.
  3. Production — production takes on many forms. Students can practice in games, discuss as a class or a multitude of other activities.
  4. Closure — review the material and check your objectives.

@dr_dmd goes into more detail when organizing the middle stages of a lesson plan. When planning out the presentation, there are two key elements to keep in mind:

  • Setting the stage (a hook)
  • Comprehensible input
    • Remember to provide input that teaches to your outcomes — what do you want students to be able to do at the end of the lesson?
    • Storytelling is an excellent bridge between the two stages, as it’s both an effective method of comprehensible input and a terrific opportunity to have kids create their own stories as production.

For production, there are two major substeps:

  • Guided and independent practice
  • Application and extension activities to take the learning deeper

This week’s chat was focused on lesson plan creation and sharing, but for more information on some of the specific stages, be sure to check out some past #langchat topics that get into the details.

  1. For warm-up resources, visit Quick Motivators and Warm-ups for World Language Classes.
  2. For presentation tips that will speak to ALL your students, try Differentiated Instruction in the World Language Classroom.
  3. To get your students producing, check out Top Ways to Get Students Speaking Productively in Class and Ways to Inspire Conversation in the Target Language.
  4. Closure involves summarizing the content and checking comprehension, and don’t forget assigning homework — kids’ favorite part of the lesson. For homework ideas, see Motivating Homework Ideas in the World Language Classroom or @karacjacobs’ Google Doc for homework ideas.

@SECottrell reminds us that sometimes students’ minds need a “restart” in the middle of a lesson to maximize engagement. So, when teaching a 50-minute lesson, try considering it as two scaffolding 25-minute lessons. Music is a fantastic, on-topic break in the middle of a long class (@placido).

Additional Lesson Plan Resources

Check out @tmsaue1’s list of units mapped out with assessments.

More ideas on maximizing student learning through planning from the TELL Project.

Thursday’s Lesson Plan Contributions

Participants had lots of great lesson plans and unit plans to share Thursday in the Google Doc folder and included some commentary on the various lessons. We had so much to share, reading it all in the summary would take up your entire afternoon! You can check out the full #langchat archive, or better yet, go to the folder at the link above and peruse some of the lesson plans (or add your own)!

We’ll keep the collection going for new submissions and suggest you take your time in reviewing the various plans — as of the end of Thursday’s chat there were over 30 varied plans and activities listed, and growing!

If you have any comments or questions for the teachers who wrote the various plans, be sure to leave a note in the comments section below. Everyone would love to hear from you!

Happy Holidays

Thanks again to all the participants of Thursday’s chat, and especially to our moderators and everyone who shared their lesson plan ideas in the Google Doc collection. Your contributions and free sharing are very much appreciated! Please be sure to let us know what you think of this unique #langchat format.

Also, important note: #Langchat will take the following two weeks off for the holidays. Please enjoy this time with your family, and get some rest! We’ll reconvene in January with a fresh new year of free professional development.

However, keep tabs on the #langchat hashtag on Twitter for a special announcement when the first in a series of #langchat e-books is out. We’ve almost finished organizing this resource, and we’d like to make it available FREE to everyone in a few short weeks!

Merry Christmas to everyone! Joyeux Noël! Frohe Weihnachten! ¡Feliz Navidad! メリークリスマス!圣诞快乐!

(Leave your language out? Let us know!)

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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