Ever have one of those days in Korea where you were desperate for an easy set of English language lesson plans to keep the class busy and keep you from spending 50 minutes in "on" mode? Or maybe you just left that day's work at home...you know that old stand-by: "my dog ate my prep work." Never fear!
Well, like you, my last school also gave me plenty of opportunities to practice ‘winging’ a lesson plan. Luckily, I now have a no-fail formula that can be adapted to any age group at any language level. All you'll need is a bit of creativity, some adaptability, a good sense of humor and nerves of steel (hey, you are ‘winging it,’ after all!).
Before borrowing/stealing my lesson plans below, follow these quick tips:
Bring in vocabulary, sentences or key topics from past classes. Reviewing, consolidating and building on these is the thread that holds your lessons (and class) together.
Next, go 3 P’s: Presentation, Practice, and Production:
Present your learning aim in an interesting and interactive way; like charades or pictionary and give enthusiastic students a go in front of the class.
Get students to practice the content: use the activities listed below to give your students a chance to experiment with the language and work out how it fits together.
Allow students to be part of the production. Review students mini-books or comic strips to determine whether they have really taken in the lesson.
Above all, use the activities to teach ESL in a way that takes the "show-time" burden off of you while driving home the lesson plan.
Now, let the games begin!!
1. Find Your Partner
With a little practice, this activity will run itself.
Materials: 1 piece of blank paper, pen and scissors.
1-Cut your paper into 8 little cards by cutting the paper in half length-wise, then into horizontal sections (see photo)
2-Use the classroom's overhead projector/camera to display the cards to the class.
3-Write a word/sentence/draw a picture on one piece of paper, and on another piece of paper, write/draw the matching item.
Vocabulary: name of animal – picture of animal (same animal, preferably recognizable)
Sentences: ‘I like puppies but I don’t like kittens.’ – picture of smiling puppy and picture of frowning kitten
Conversation: ‘What’s your name?’- ‘My name is ___ (Kim Jee Hoon, Slim Shady, etc.’,
Tip: When filling out the cards, elicit words and pairs from your students as an effective method of review and consolidation. Don’t forget, the more vivid you are when you elicit (in my case: the more foolish I look) the more likely they will remember your teachings.
1-Hand out all your cards- 1 per student. Lie them face down on each desk and tell them to keep their card a secret you say "go"
2-Ask your students to stand up and quickly find their partner. Show them how to do it instead of just explaining verbally. Remember, they are in your class to learn the curriculum, not to decipher your instructions!
3-Get students to display their work. My fav way of concluding this activity: have each pair race to the front of the classroom and read their answer to you. Many Korean schools have a competitive culture, so write the first 3 pairs (winning teams) on the board for incentive. Leaving the rest of the students off the board will eliminate any feelings of ‘losing’ the game.
Once they get the hang of it, think about having the kids split into groups and work together to create their own "Find Your Partner" cards for the rest of the class. This allows you to stop talking and moderate their work instead.
2. Tic Tac Toe: Revised Edition
Many teachers have turned this game into an unproductive time-killer. Here’s how you can turn it into a CHALLENGING and EDUCATIONAL activity:
Materials: Blackboard/Whiteboard, markers/chalk
Prep: No preparation necessary!!
1-Split the class into 2 teams
2-Draw up an oversized Tic Tac Toe game on the board (see photo).
3-Instead of writing answers in the boxes, write ‘clues’. When a student chooses a box, you can have them use the "clue" to create a sentence, identify the opposite word, draw a picture, etc.
4-Once the game is firmly established, split the class into smaller groups of 2 or 4, pairs give each group a piece of paper and ask them to start their own game.
5-Go from group to group, encouraging students to keep talking, while you Observe & Report (card).
Tried and tested, this activity is just as popular in the classroom (if not more) as it is outside a family mart at 3am on a Sunday morning.
Materials: Blackboard/whiteboard, markers/chalk
Prep: No preparation necessary!!!
1-Split the class into teams
2-Write one word/sentence from your review list (vocab/sentences/topics/conversation) on the board. Elicit as much of the list as possible from your students, writing each appropriate answer on the board.
3-Write one of the words on the board (above head height) and stand under it. Ask students questions about your word (just like in the original game of headbanz) or mime charades for lower level classes, making sure to model the activity for all to see (see photo)
4-Choose a student from each team (start with the most enthusiastic or a brave soul who you know can handle the pressure). Stand them in front of the board, facing the class. Write a word from the list above their heads and make it clear that they should not look at it.
5-Assist each student in asking their team for clues. 1 clue/question per student until it is their turn again.
After 4 or 5 questions, this game should play all by itself. Sit back and enjoy the entertainment!
4. Comic Stip
It’s pretty much exactly as it sounds!
You will need: Paper, color pens/pencils/crayons/markers
Prep: Demonstrate to the students how to make their comic strips. Fold the paper in half long-ways (to make a long, skinny rectangle). Open up the paper and draw a line along the crease. These sections will now serve as the strips. Draw lines perpendicular to the crease. Now you have comic strip boxes!!
Getting started: Once your students have prepared their comic strips, encourage them to draw a comic based on the focus topic of the day. You can choose to have them draw specific pictures in each box or let them loose and draw as they wish. As long as there is relevant English on the page, you can rest assured they have learnt something today :D
Ideally, you can rotate these four several times during a term once the learning curve is in place.
Now I need your help! Does anyone have other creative and easy to execute lesson plans that keep the class engaged, active and doing the talking so you don't have to? Send em my way or post them up in the comments below.