Since this weekend marks the end of one month and the beginning of another, I have spent much of my day completing my September reports and designing the modules for October. I thought you might like a peek in side my brain too see how I go about the planning. In a future post, I can share all the materials I created to make one of these modules come together in the classroom.
I begin by looking at our needs assessment, which looks something like this. This time around students want to learn about food first. Thanksgiving and Halloween fall in October, so this aligns nicely with food as a month-long theme.
My rough plan looks like this:
October 3-7: Share a simple recipe for acorn squash with tie-in to Canadian Thanksgiving; make a Language Experience Approach book when we cook and eat the squash.
October 11-15: Skill building, vocabulary building around food staples and making a shopping list
October 17-21: Our recipes (help students choose a recipe to present to the class using colour pictures and large poster paper, markers). Make a Language Experience Approach book about our recipes.
October 24-29: Food safety and Halloween. Make masks from paper plates and go to Maria's room to "trick or treat." Her students will come to us, as well.
For each week-long module, I will plan the lessons by working backward from the end objectives. I will mentally tease them apart, asking myself what skills we need to build before attempting the task. I also layer modules this way, so that the skills acquired one week help learners with the following week's objectives. For example, a module with the objective of making a doctor's appointment could be preceded by a module on calendar and clock skills, one on the body and one on symptoms. Each module has its own objectives, but they also build toward being able to perform a final real-world task.
Each week I will introduce no more than twelve new words and twelve terms recycled from a previous module. We will spend the entire week working with this language, creating as many linguistic affordances as possible for the learners. I will try, though it is not my strong area, to give each lesson and each module a kinaesthetic component. For example, we will really prep and cook a squash using the microwave off room 105. During week two, the classroom will look like a grocery store, with food packages all over the place! During week three we will use glue, pictures, and markers to make our posters. During week four we will check actual bags of candy for allergies, ingredients that are not Halal, and will throw out suspect items with broken packaging.
Of course the LEA books will make the language so much more meaningful. Students love to see themselves portrayed in the books. "We wash our hands (picture). Hanaa cuts the squash (picture). Mukai mixes the spices (picture). AnLe puts in the butter (picture). And so on. This becomes our little reader for the week. With lots and lots of daily practice reading it in 20-minute sessions--chorally, individually and in pairs, most learners can read it with fluency by Friday.
When I sit down to fill out my module planning form for my supervisor and our funder, IRCC, it helps me find the gaps in my plan and flesh out a more detailed syllabus for the month that includes activities designed to give learners opportunities to gain specific competencies. This is also when I will think about when assessments will take place and how.
How about you? How do you plan lessons and modules?