What I try to keep in mind when preparing any classroom material (or lesson generally) for my students –
my top 10!
• The needs of my students as well as expectations / relevance
• Clear purpose of the material / aim
• Appropriate level and style
• Design – Use colours or at least encourage your students (even adults) to use colours or highlighters when learning or working with your handouts. Use images, pictures that are eye-catching and can possible lead to discussion. Try to keep your materials in “shape”- easy to follow and understand. Avoid complicated and long instructions if possible.
• Authenticity – working with real life topics, materials, videos or stories – bring the world to the classroom
• Length – not too long and complicated or sophisticated, rather sort of catching and inspiring
• Curiosity – everyone is curious and we learn better when we are really interested in something
• Playfulness – laugh and fun are magic ingredients. I know people who claim that when students want to learn something properly, the lesson has to be serious, it has to have an order and it doesn’t work with being playful in the classroom. Well, I think we can achieve as much using games and fun. Game and fun can be as meaningful as any drilling exercise. There are at least three positive factors of being playful in the classroom: 1. It creates a relaxed atmosphere (less anxiety →less stress →more talking/asking →more confidence →better results) , 2. It helps students remember the language in context and 3. It makes the learning less painful experience (after all, we all know that learning doesn’t end in with a certificate) and one of our main aims should be waking up the curiosity and willingness to learn and see learning as something natural and as pleasant as possible.
• Multilayeredness– well, let me explain what I mean. I am not sure if I have just invented this but I guess, you may be familiar with what’s hiding behind the term. My latest handouts tend to be more or less just a frame for the lesson. I am becoming a fan of using technology not only in the classroom but also for kind of pre-lesson activities or follow-ups (you may call it homework). And sometimes there is no handout needed at all. Moreover, you don’t have to be always explicit in terms of stating what activity/task is for and strictly dividing it to parts such as listening, reading, grammar. I think, students like sort of structure (I keep stating some of the parts) but it’s not a coursebook and you can show them that grammar is everywhere, listening goes hand in hand with speaking and writing can be such a fun when you are not asked to write 10 sentences using the given words for instance. You can repeat/recycle a lot when your students are not focusing only on one grammar/language aspect.
• Adaptability – if that’s possible prepare handouts or activities that you can easily adapt and use again (if not content then the structure – frame)
When preparing a lesson (with or without additional material –actually I can’t remember a lesson when I used ONLY course book), these are the adjectives that are on my mind “ natural – inspiring – coherent”. What about you?
Few of my lesson plans (handouts – these were created without further teachers’ notes so feel free to ask me if you need to explain anything there):