This module we are asked to read and blog about

1) Our curriculum and how to plan a teaching program/select resources – and how it might apply to assignment 2

2) Our experiences and any recommendations for planning lessons

Curriculum and Learning Objectives for Assign.2

For the second assignment, I will focus on one course which I often teach – UTAS Access 6.

The question of curriculum and learning objectives is a tricky one for me. As a teacher at an independent adult TESOL (English language teaching) centre, largely catering to overseas students aiming for tertiary degrees, we are not governed by any government body or subject to much in the way of national standards. Our courses run for 5 weeks each, and a typical student will progress from level 4 or 5, and exit at 6 or 7, meaning that we usually only teach them for a total of 15 weeks, or often less. The courses themselves are very prescribed, with purpose created texts which deliver most of the content materials of the course, and exams happen at the end of each 5 week period.

The result is that the curriculum could be broken down into the various skills and content knowledge delivered by the books, and tested in the end of course exams. However, there is no specific document which is available that does this.

The course documentation does list 6 areas of study, and 5 ‘intended learning outcomes’, which can be found here . They are as follows:

Curriculum Areas

Students develop ability and confidence by focusing on:

  • English Language proficiency
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • The use of academic conventions
  • Constructing essays/reports and retrieving and citing relevant sources
  • Managing a university workload
  • Preparing and presenting research assignments

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

1. Produce sentences using general and academic vocabulary in written and spoken contexts.
2. Use reading and listening strategies to identify main ideas and details and answer comprehension questions based on authentic materials.
3. Produce essays and reflective writing paragraphs
4. Use functional language to make formal group presentations based on authentic materials.

I will therefore attempt to link my various resources to a curriculum area, or areas and one or more intended learning outcome.

Lesson Planning

keep-calm-and-pretend-it-s-on-the-lesson-plan-47
self-created image


As far as lesson planning is concerned- I am indeed, pretty experienced, with around 8 years teaching in primary and secondary schools, and the last 13 or so teaching in tertiary English language classrooms. I have also the advantage (and potential handicap) of teaching, repeatedly, the same seven 5-week courses, that have changed their content only a little over the last 10 years.

This is an advantage because I can walk into any classroom, at any of these levels and teach the content with confidence and ease. It is a disadvantage because such familiarity can, and sometimes does, inspire a bit of laziness where preparation and planning is concerned. The fact is though, that, despite the familiarity of the material, you can always manage to bore students and fail to engage them, if you are not well-prepared and using good teaching techniques.

In fact, there is always an endless variety of methods of delivery, and I keep myself very busy and happy by constantly trying to update both my own versions of the material that is prescribed in our books (some of it is awful), and the way in which I deliver it. Obviously, technology has figured largely in this process in recent years, and has prompted me to take this Masters course, in the hope of finding new and better ways to engage my students.

Planning, for me, usually involves quickly reviewing the week’s desired learning outcomes. What do I want my students to be able to do at the end of it? Then it’s a matter of what sort of scaffolding and process I think will best get my students to that point. These days, in many cases, planning is doubly necessary because I often flip my classroom (Bishop & Verleger, 2013), which means you have to find or create a selection of online, prefereably interactive material BEFORE you review and practice it in class it. If you’re not planning ahead – that can’t happen. Equally, I often use classroom mobile tools like Kahoot, Socrative or Quizlet to quiz and individually assess the students to make sure that they have done the homework, and that they each understand it. For this, you also need to create the quizzes – they don’t just happen by magic (sadly).

If I do not flip the learning, but deliver it in class, I still prefer to ensure it’s not presented in passive, lecture style, but rather with plenty of opinion seeking, idea sharing, and concept checking- which means creating a presentation that has plenty for students to do. Once, again these interactive elements need to be carefully planned and mangaged, if not outright created – and their effectiveness needs evaluation after you’re done. Once again, good planning is essential.

As I just mentioned, I think that in any discussion of lesson planning, we need to also remember the flip-side: post-class reflection on what was successful and what needs review or improvement.

Sometimes it seems that a teacher’s job happens as much out of the classroom as in it!

My main recommendation for lesson planning would therefore be to focus, not just on the content and learning objectives you want to deliver, but just as much on how this would be best delivered.

One reading we invited to examine was the chapter in Simons and Hawkins (2009, pp.54-105).  Several aspects of planning are suggested; these aspects are:

screen-00009(Simon & Hawkins, 2009, p. 52)

We are encouraged to plan activities which stretch students to use a variety of cognitive skills, including higher order skills such as evaluating and creating, to consider structure and pacing of the lesson, and of course, to reflect upon the lessons success and failure, for improvement of future deliveries.

However, I found the integration planning scheme in Roblyer and Doering (2014) more comprehensive and accesible. They propose a seven-step process for integrating technology into your planning and teaching (2014, pp. 66-78). I could summarise these as follows (with my own understanding of the step after the colon).

1) Determine relative advantages: How can a technology offer advantages beyond what you can achieve without it?

2) Assess Tech-PACK (TPACK): How confident do you feel about integrating the technology with the content and with sound pedagogy. Do you have the necessary skills? What problems might arise due to lack of knowledge – how can you bridge these gaps?

3) Decide objectives and assessments: What learning objectives will be achieved? How will you test how successful the learning has been? How and when will you review and re-test?

4) Design integration strategies: What interdisciplinary content will be best? What student grouping? what is the sequence of activities?

5) Prepare instructional environment:

Essential conditions (See ITSE here): Are the resources adequate and available (time, hardware, software)? Is there adequate support, both technical and financial? Are there the required policies in place?

Access: Do all students have the skills and the access required to partake in the learning tasks? How will special needs be addressed? Are there any problems that might occur? How will you deal with them?

6) Analyse results: How did students feel about the tasks? Objectively, how well did they test? How do the results compare with previous results?

7) Make revisions: Were objective results satisfactory? Who did not do well? Why not? Did students enjoy the tasks? If not, why not? Could the task have been more engaging?

iste-essenetial-conditions

In Roblyer and Doering’s model, they are specifically planning for technology integration, rather than general teaching planning, so this focus makes sense in that context. However, my own preference, for palnning in general, would be to move the consideration of learning objectives and assessment to the first position, while consideration of the advantages of various tools comes second. Technology, as I have mentioned in other blogs, is simply a tool to achieve objectives, not an objective in itself, and sometimes other tools will have greater advantages.

My own version, intended for general teaching planning, with technology as an option, might look like this:

1) Decide objectives and assessments: What learning objectives will be achieved? How will you test how successful the learning has been? How and when will you review and re-test?

2) Determine Delivery Tools and Strategies: Which delivery methods and tools, including technological tools, are best suited to the achieving learning objectives, and to assessing and reviewing aquisition and understanding? If technology is used, what advantages does it offer beyond what you can achieve without it?

3) Assess Tech-PACK (TPACK): How confident do you feel about integrating the technology with the content, and with sound pedagogy. Do you have the necessary skills? What problems might arise due to lack of knowledge – how can you bridge these gaps?

4) Design integration strategies: What interdisciplinary content will be best? What student grouping? what is the sequence of activities?

5) Prepare instructional environment:

Essential conditions (See ITSE here): Are the resources adequate and available (time, hardware, software)? Is there adequate support, both technical and financial? Are there the required policies in place?

Access: Do all students have the skills and the access required to partake in the learning tasks? How will special needs be addressed? Are there any problems that might occur? How will you deal with them?

6) Analyse results: How did students feel about the tasks? Objectively, how well did they test? How do the results compare with previous results?

7) Make revisions: Were objective results satisfactory? Who did not do well? Why not? Did students enjoy the tasks? If not, why not? Could the task have been more engaging?

This, I think, represents what I would like to think I do when lesson planning.

References

Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. ASEE National Conference Proceedings, Atlanta, GA (Vol. 30, No. 9). Retrieved from http://www.studiesuccesho.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/flipped-classroom-artikel.pdf

ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). (2017). National educational technology standards for students: Essential conditions. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/tools-resources/essential-conditions

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching: International edition, 6th Edition. Pearson. ISBN : 978-1-292-02208-6.

Simmons, C., & Hawkins, C. (2009). Planning to teach an ICT lesson. In Teaching ICT. (pp. 54-105). London ; Sage Publications Ltd. Retrieved from http://primo.unilinc.edu.au/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?vid=CSU&search_scope=default_scope&docId=csu_equella83a93a56-17ae-453c-a3e6-cc4bf6f27489/1&fn=permalink

 

 

 

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