Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lesson Delivery 1: Planning to Delivery

How do your lessons go in comparison to how you plan them? Do you follow the lesson plan closely or follow the "teachable moment?"

30 comments:

Heidi Gradall said...

Because I don´t have lesson plans with much detail, more a vision of what I´d like to talk about and accomplish in the class, there is plenty of flexibility for teachable moments. I love taking advantage of questions to go off on a teaching tangent, or to introduce a new topic. For example yesterday, a student asked me the difference in pronunciation between bad, bat, and but. So I decided that to make the next class a little more fun we´d exchange tonge twisters, a great activity to practice pronunciation. I´m going to try to make one up with these three words to help them learn it. Today in my morning class a big bird flew by and we all stared at it. It became my next sample sentence of using adjectives, big bird. As I teach sometimes I notice things that haven´t yet been addressed and usually take the time to address them, like the use of a versus an.

My lessons don´t typically go acording to my plan/vision, but sometimes go much better because of the teachable moments. Today´s was learning the word ¨sneeze¨ and how to respond with ¨God bless you¨or just ¨bless you¨.

amanda.hokanson said...

As I have a mix of ages and various students, I also have various 'teachable moments.' For instance, I was trying to teach them clarification questions the other day to give them tools if they don't understand something and discovered while they were spelling things to each other in response to, "Could you spell that please?" that they didn't know the alphabet really well. Then I had them go to the board and attempt a relay to see how fast two teams could write the entire alphabet. They confuse many of the letters in Lithuanian with those in English. They also cannot distinguish well between the vowels, so we're now back-tracking to those topics. I guess I consider myself as a 'tweaker.' If there's something they need to 'tweak' in their proficiency, I'll plan a lesson around that for the next day. Generally while tweaking, I'll then find another problem to pursue. That's how my presentation goes.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds said...

Try to include things like the ABC song into transitions between activities, etc. Have them play scrabble, word searches, etc to strengthen their alphabet processing. It's hard since they're coming from Cyrillic, right?

amanda.hokanson said...

Yeah, actually their alphabet is based on the Roman one- just like ours, except that they have about 5extra letters. I did have them sing the alphabet song and they can do it perfectly, except that I still sensed they didn't actually know it- that's when I had them do the relay. Afterwards, I had them make their own alphabet books- where each student had to come up with a picture representing the letter, a word that starts with the letter, and then use that in a sentence. Each student did 2-3 letters. Then I photocopied everything (after shrinking it) and gave them their books. They loved it! I also had them do the, "I'm going camping and I'm bringing" game where they have to remember everything everyone else says in order of the alphabet. After those two activities, we had another relay and it stuck! Woot!

Nessa said...

I tend to have detailed lesson plans. I've always found it nice to have a well organized plan with lots of detail. That way I've always got something to fall back on and I don't have to worry about forgetting anything. It's nice to have examples and discussion questions thought out in advance. However, I don't always follow the lessons exactly. Working as a teacher's assistant, and not as the main teacher, means that I have to be very flexible. Sometimes the head teachers needs to take part of the lesson or would like me to make last minute changes.

I also like to write the day's plan on the board. It gives the students a heads up on what they'll be doing. It also helps shift the focus off of me ("We need to move on to the next activity, because it's there in the plan." Not, "I need you to do this now.")

It's definitely a better idea to plan extra activities. I usually don't get all the way through my plan, but it's much better to have activities you don't get to than an extra five or ten minutes at the end. Plus, I want the students and teachers to know that I am prepared.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds said...

Agendas are real life savers. They help us in the sense that the students know what's coming up and will help us move ahead.

We also need to ask the learners to tell us when they have completed a task very quickly.

SarahKjrsten said...

I work with three different lead teachers. It's up to the teachers to dictate what the students learn, but they want me to plan and teach the actual lessons. The teachers deal with the what and I deal with the how. Some weeks the teachers have given me an outline for the week in advance and I love that. Other weeks I haven't been given anything and when I arrive in the classroom I have to improvise.

I've noticed a huge difference between the classes that I can plan in advance and the classes that I have to improvise. I love it when I've been able to plan in advance.

I feel like the lessons that I plan in advance are so much stronger and better for the students than the improvised classes. Today I had my classes planned and I the kids got the material so quickly and so well that I was able to preview what they were going to talk about next (fish and mammals) at the end of class.

Two weeks ago I wasn't able to plan in advance and I'd never seen the worksheet the teacher wanted me to do with the class before. To begin with the worksheet was confusing and a mess and on top of my never having seen it before, the students just got confused. So I had to discard the worksheet and think of a way to teach the same concepts right then and there.

Thankfully today I was given an outline for all of my class until December so now I can plan ahead!

- Sarah Fox

Charlotte said...

Though I am tutoring an English Language Learner online, I feel that most of my lesson planning/delivery "teachable moments" have come from my student teaching placement in Wisconsin. I am currently teaching 8th grade English, and one of my hours has 4 native English speakers and 14 English Language Learners.The majority of my ELL students are Hmong, but I also have one from Thailand, one from China, and one from Russia. Because of budget cuts, there is little ELL support offered within the school.

Because I am in an American school and have to adhere to Wisconsin state educational standards, I plan my lessons accordingly. However, it did not take me long to realize that my daily lesson would need to be modified for this particular class period because of the language differences. I have learned that my teaching in this class tends to be much more teacher-centered as these students are more reluctant to speak up in class or even work with their peers.

While I tend to underplan in the other five hours of my day, I have noticed that I rarely get through the day's lesson in this particular class period. I have instilled the use of TPR and have incorporated supplementary resources into this hour. Since I have to grade these students based on the same standards that I grade their native-speaking peers, I generally find an alternative way to get to the same result that is more conducive to their language needs. I can't expect these students to write a descriptive essay when they don't know the difference between a verb and a noun. Instead, we spend more time on vocabulary, parts of speech, and sentence structure.

Over the past few months, these students have become more comfortable with me and the language, so I try to take cues from their questions and statements to feed into the next day's lesson. I've found that the best tool in my arsenal has been to relate the lesson to some event/activity that is relevant in their everyday lives. Also, I've learned to expect that the majority of my lessons will not go according to plan, so flexibility is key!

Talia said...

For the camp, though the activities are pre planned, and we cannot change them. The way that we interpret the activities and how we want to teach them is completely open. As long as we reach the final objective, we can pretty much do whatever we want which is nice. Since every camp we do is completely differnt (differnet age levels, English levels, environment, etc,) Because of this, I usually dont plan how I am going to teach the lesson ahead of time, but change my teaching strategy depending on the students that I receive. Some students are super self motivated so I can just let them work and they will do great in the activity. Other students dont want to be there at all, so I have to adapt the activity to make it motivating for them. To do this, you can make the activity into a game, a contest, or show them that they will receive some sort of reward at the end. Using one of these strategies usually can motivate the students, if even for a short amount of time.

cjdrummer said...

Going off of what Talia wrote, using games as a form of teaching is a great way to motivate students.

Here is a game we played the first day of class:

The class sits in a circle with one person standing in the middle. (Make sure that there is one less chair than there are people. The person in the middle says: “Hi my name is _____”. Then the rest of the class responds: “Hi _____!” The person in the middle then says something about themselves, for example, “I like the color green”. Everyone else who likes the color green must stand up and move to an open chair. The person who is left standing in the middle will then go next.

We used this game as an ice breaker activity to get to know names and a little about each person. The class we used it for was with teens and adults of ages levels from very beginning to intermediate. I liked this game because it's fun and can be modified for all ages, all levels of English, and can be used to practice a specific grammar point or vocabulary set.

Games and activities are essential for young learners to keep their attention and to keep them motivated. Especially when it is the last class of the day and the room is humid. What the teacher decided to do was to have story time. I told the class a story and then they had to draw what happened. I thought this was a good change of pace for the students.

cjdrummer said...

The theme for this week was “At a Restaurant.” I was in charge of creating some activities to practice the grammar and vocabulary. However, some of the others were not prepared with their materials until right before the class. Therefore my main activity had to be thrown out the window because it was too similar to the questions that the other volunteer did. Therefore, it would have been too repetitive and boring. So I came up with two activities on the spot. The first was using the grammar of this/that is vs. these/ those are. I used markers (or sometimes just one marker) and held them at varying distances from the students. I then asked questions such as: “What is that?” and “What are these?” The second activity was a play on Hot Potato. So I would sing the Hot Potato song and when I said Stop, the person who was holding the potato had to answer one of the questions that they had been practicing in pairs. That’s one thing about co-teaching. You really need to coordinate with each other otherwise overlaps happen easily. It is also important to make sure that there is never a lull when switching activities. I noticed that a few times the first night. I don’t think we had any lulls this time around so that is good.

Originally, the coordinator said I would be in charge of this class, but it turns out it is more of team effort. There are four other volunteers helping with the class. Only ¼ has experience teaching English/ knows what’s going on. So it made me kind of angry and annoyed that the coordinator split the work up among us and put us each in charge of something for the class. I suppose it makes them feel like they have a part, but sometimes if just want to yell at them because they don’t know what they’re doing. Actually, the day after our class (so on Tuesday) we have a group meeting with the coordinator and we talk about how the class went and then talk about what topic to have for the next week. One of the girls got really excited and said, “At the zoo!” I tried to be nice about it, but I think it still came out kind of mean. I said that this is an adult class, we did a needs assessment, and they want to learn things like how to give directions. I felt bad for killing her dream, but it had to be done. I then suggested that the theme be descriptions: meaning that we would go over physical and character descriptions as well as incorporate the vocabulary for family members. Everyone liked that idea and that’s what we will do next week.

I find it very helpful to have lesson plans detailed with examples and extra activities to make sure there is always something to do. However, sometimes it is necessary to veer off of the plan to accomodate the students needs. It is a balance.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds said...

CJDrummmer, Sounds like you are experiencing the typical push and pull of team teaching. To me, it sounds like you are handling it well.

Cait said...

I have now been teaching English for two weeks at Extreme English. I have had two weeks (Monday through Friday) with two classes a day of Pre-Intermediate 1 and Pre-Intermediate 2, as well as 3 Saturdays of 6-8 year old kids for two hours. In that time, naturally, I have experienced a lot, had fun and had frustration. It has been a rollercoaster of exciting feelings towards teaching as well as other days that I just wanted to quit. However, I have now come to the realization that teaching will not be easy every day nor always have good results with the students but when you come back strong the next day and see their success or progress –even if small- it makes it worth it.

I have very different dynamics in both of my classes meaning very different experiences. Even though it is more difficult to have two classes- meaning more work- it is great to have that extra experience. Initially I had the impression of mainly having adults in my classes. However, in my first class- it is almost all teenagers 14-19 so meaning I basically have all high school students. It makes me laugh because I never used to think I wanted to work with that age. I’m now learning I enjoy some things about it and am struggling with other aspects. Overall, I think I would like to work with age group, but not as a teacher, but rather maybe a counselor or communicate with them in the community more as a mentor. Nonetheless, they are giving me great practice with my patience and stretching my creativity to keep them participating while enjoying the class.

One of the main troubles I am having is being creative making lesson plans every day. The book we have is really not very great, plus it is boring to only use the book all the time anyways even if it is good. Therefore, I am creating a lot of my own extra activities. We have a curriculum we are suppose to follow, so I still have to cover certain topics and vocabulary each week, but I try to spice it up so it is informative while interesting. But, like I said, I am finding it challenging to think of new ideas every day. I use the internet to get new ideas and it is great having Karlene here so we can talk about lessons together and get ideas from each other.

An aspect I have found useful most of the time, which I like, is having the students explain a certain topic to each other. This way, it cuts down on Teacher Talk Time (ttt) and increases Student Talk Time (stt) which is a good thing. Secondly, it gives a new perspective. Even in the U.S. in my classes in English, I wouldn’t fully understand a topic until a peer explained it in a different way. This has shown to be effective in many of my classes. But I need to listen carefully to the student explanation so they don’t give wrong information. I also need to be attentive to the student’s reaction and if they appear more confused, I need to politely cut off the explanation and try in a new way. One issue with this is students will often try to easily just explain in Spanish. I understand that can be easier, and sometimes I allow it if it is a really challenging concept that I have tried in a few ways to explain in English. But I really discourage simple Spanish translations of vocabulary because that doesn’t help the students make the connections and learn it.

It has been quite the adventure so far, and I’m sure I will only continue learning a lot every day.

Elyssa said...

Going off of what Cait said, I have the same problem with my students using the translation of a word instead of trying to figure it out in English. One woman I am working with will sometimes stop me while I am speaking and then ask me to repeat the English word she didn't understand. After I do this, I then spell it out through the text chat on Skype (I am tutoring/teaching online). If she still doesn't understand, she will ask me in Spanish what the word for it in Spanish is (because she knows I speak some Spanish). I have told her that I would really like it if she would use English only for our lessons but she does still speak in Spanish when she doesn't understand something. I'm not sure if I should completely discourage this, or if it is ok to do when things get especially confusing.

cjdrummer said...

Cait - I also agree that it is hard to be creative with activities all of the time. The night class that I do has no books or any materials that are given to us. We get to make up our own themes, grammar points, vocabulary, etc. There is internet access as well as access to a printer. So that helps. However sometimes I wish I did have a book so I could steal ideas.

Elyssa - With what you and Cait said about using Spanish with students... I noticed that the English teachers here usually revert to translate the English into Spanish if their students don't understand immediately. I also have found the the other volunteer teachers (who have no experience/ background with teaching) first speak in Spanish and then say the English. Personally, I am against using the L1 when teaching English. If a student does not understand the first time, then explain it in a different way, use pictures, use gestures, give examples,etc. Yes, it does go faster if a fellow student explains it to them. But like Cait was saying, sometimes they explain it wrong or just don't help at all. The same thing goes for translations. Yes, they are faster, but sometimes there is no good translation and like Cait mentioned, the students don't make a very strong connection with the meaning that way. So I say that avoiding L1 as much as possible is the way to go.

cjdrummer said...

In order to complete all of my hours for the practicum, I was put into three different programs. I began teaching at an elementary school four days a week and teaching an adult class one night a week. This last week I did some private tutoring. I was originally told that I would be giving lessons to a group of preschool teachers. I was told that the goal of the lessons was to teach songs, vocabulary, and phrases that they could use in their English classes with the preschoolers. So I prepared a lesson following these guidelines. It turned out that only one woman showed up, so instead of a group lesson it was a private lesson. I began giving the lesson that I had prepared, but she had questions unrelated to what I had planned. So I decided to just throw out my lesson and work on whatever questions or topics that she had. Her first question was how to differentiate between the uses of simple present and present progressive. So I did a little grammar lesson. First I explained the difference and then gave examples. I then had her make her own sentences using the different subjects (I, he, they, etc.). My supervisor had a book for me to use, so I used a few pages from that. I had her to read a worksheet and fill in the answers using simple present. Next I had her talk about her daily routine. Then I had her pretend like it was Saturday and had her explain what she was doing. We did a few more activities and then class was over.
The next day I decided to spend the time working on simple present again. She needed to work on her subject-verb agreement, especially with the he/she/it sentences. She then showed me the English workbook she had from her university. She had a speaking test that day, so I asked her some questions from the book.

I thought that the one-on-one aspect of teaching was nice, but at the same time it was scary. I know that in any classroom students can throw questions at you at all times, but since this one-on-one lesson turned into question and answer time it was really hard. So I ended up following the "teachable moment", but I don’t like feeling unprepared and especially with teaching grammar I think it’s helpful to have a book with me to help with the explanation or at least know in advance to prepare. Even though I only did two of these private one-on-one lessons, I think it was still a really good experience. It’s a completely different kind of environment than the typical classroom. I could see myself giving private lessons on the side.

In all of the programs that I worked with, I ran into situations where I had to throw out a previously planned lesson or activity and come up with new material on the spot. It is hard to predict how students will respond to a lesson and sometimes it is in their best interest to adapt your lesson to their wants and needs.

Elyssa said...

@cjdrummer: I really relate to what you’re saying about having something planned and having to follow the teachable moment instead. This happens a lot with me and my online student, and I wonder if it happens more often in one-on-one lessons. I try to formulate my lessons around what my student is working on in his evening English class. This way, he can ask me further questions about what he’s studying and we can work on concepts that he is becoming familiar with. I often find that while I have a plan for the lesson, the lesson always takes a turn into almost a question-answer period. Sometimes that is all the lesson ends up being. My student will have so many questions from his English class that usually I end up just helping him to understand what he didn’t understand in class. I would like to have more of a formal structure to my lessons but I can see that by answering his questions, I help him understand his in-class lessons even better. One way I have been trying to deal with this is by introducing culture lessons in which I teach him about American culture and when he asks a question, I formulate the answer to the question through sentences that involve something culturally significant. In this way, I am able to both answer whatever (grammar, vocab, spelling, etc.) question he has as well as incorporating another teachable aspect into the lesson.
One of the biggest problems I have been having is giving on-the-spot differentiations between words. Almost every lesson, my student will ask me a question like “what’s the difference between only, just, and alone” or “what is the difference between for, with, and by.” Any suggestions for handling things like this?

Astri Gerdes said...

I definitely follow the teachable moment. The lesson plan is always there waiting for later when we run out of that spontaneous material. However, this great flexibility might only exist because I am teaching online to individuals. I imagine that in a classroom, on an official syllabus and potentially strict timeline, teachable moments would be on a similarly strict timetable. I like the way that we have been taught in our TEFL classes; we don’t move on until we understand and show it, and teachable moments are allowed to have their time. How do we balance good teaching like this with a foreign school’s strict timeline? I would like to know for future reference!

nate mortenson said...

I found that I hardly even follow my lesson plan. It's that way when I'm giving a presentation as well, I just go from what's inside my head rather than looking at my plan and then teaching from that. I think it was a little choppy and unorganized this way so I really tied to get better at planning my lesson well and following it exactly. I found myself making really nice lesson plans and then just falling into the teachable moment rather than following my plan exactly. So I'm working on finding a happy medium.

Karlene said...

In an earlier post I mentioned how lesson planning used to take ages to complete, but over the course of the summer my practices and ideas have gotten better which have picked up the pace when it comes to planning. Still, however good my lessons are doesn’t always make a difference as to whether I follow them completely or not. I have found that the more I plan the less I use it in the classroom. During methods class in the spring I remember talking about the different structures and paths that exist in writing styles in different regions of the world. Just as Hispanic novels tend to veer off track and come back to the main point, so does the flow of classes when I teach in Latin America. Classes aren’t always carried out in this way, but frequently I find that it is the case. It is especially the case with my basic students because they are so eager to learn the language that they must know in that moment how what we are learning connects to other things that have already been presented. I think that it is better to go with the “teachable moment” because then it really shows what the teacher knows and knows how to present well, rather than following a lesson plan and/or the book. When students help guide the class it seems to go more smoothly, and they get what they want out of their learning and my teaching.

MC said...

I try to stick with a list, a detailed list. If I start doing "teachable moments" I end up digressing. I can divulge from my list but I try hard to keep to it. There have been times when my planning had not worked and I need to improvise. I usually panic internally while trying to seem collected in front of my tutees. One of the challenges of tutoring one-on-one is there is little, if any, transition time, so If I am not organized, it shows.

Maggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lindsaymariekline said...

I'm similar to Heidi. I start with a lesson plan but it almost always has to be modified. I planned once to do a kind of introductory activity where the kids drew pictures of their favorite things. I quickly discovered that they did not know what "Favorite" meant. I tried to teach them that and discovered that their English vocabulary is not broad enough to have favorites. For example, if I asked them their favorite animal, they mostly responded with dog or cat because they don't know the words for any other animal. My lesson quickly turned into a kind of vocabulary lesson. This has tended to happen for most of my lessons. I start at what I think is a basic level but discover that I have to take it down even more until I am literally teaching the basics like what sound each letters make.

Chelcea said...

This has been an interesting journey.. this transition from planning to delivery. Even though I have planned and “delivered” a lot of different things for classes, for church, for speeches, etc, this is truly different. Planning has been much harder than I thought it would be. I think a lot of this has to do with not really knowing the kids beforehand. I had no idea what their levels were and I still don’t know what they learned last month much less last year. I don’t know which students are new to the school and which have had English classes here for the last few years. So, before I came here, I thought planning would be me knowing exactly what everything would look like, and being able to plan out a good chunk of lessons, maybe a week or 2 at a time, but boy was I wrong. I can barely plan one day in advance because so many things change so quickly. Honestly, just the other day, my boss told me that we all have to do a project and present the song for the Olympics. Well, that’s a great concept, but does that mean that we just stop our lessons where they are right now and drop the unit? I don’t know.. it’s just so much “go with the flow” and little structure. Then, it turns out that each grade level needs to do the same project, so that means that since I teach one section of 3, one of 4, and one of 5, I have to collaborate with the other English teachers who teach the other halves of each of those classes, as to what projects we are going to do, even thought the levels of the classes is different. Frustrating, a little, mostly because I want to start it now since the kids are sooo squirrely because they know the Olympics have started and they want to do a project NOW J But I do think that it will be good to be working with my coworkers to figure out these projects.
 
Another thing that I’ve been coming to understand is how even if you plan out the most beautiful lesson in the whole world, it might not work out at all. This past Friday, with my lovely students from 3rd year, I had this whole lesson planned out and in the end they were going to be drawing pictures to match the phrases “good morning, good afternoon, and good night” and they love drawing so I was really excited to tell them about my new reward system. I told them if they worked hard and were quiet, then I would check off one letter of the word DRAW on the board, and if all the letters were crossed off at the end of the class, they would get to draw! Sounds great, right? Well, they were still rotten, they wouldn’t listen and it was supppper frustrating. But now, instead of yelling, (which I did do on various occasions) I stand at the front of the class in silence, waiting for them to be quiet before I continue. Well, we didn’t accomplish much of anything, and I spent most of the class standing at the front in silence listening to them yell at each other, “BE QUIET!” … it was so frustrating, but I stayed calm.. this fun lesson I had planned was nowhere near completion, so I hope that on Monday, or after our Olympics unit, they can all sit down and focus and do the games and activities I have planned. Overall, I’m learning that planning to delivery is a big jump and anything can happen once your are in front of your class. …

Ashley said...

I usually have my lesson all written out and in order of what I am going to do first. When I start my tutoring sessions I begin with what ever I first wrote down on my plan and then progress from there. But I've noticed that sometimes as the session progresses I sometimes tend to go in a completely different direction then what I had originally had planned. Sometimes this is because I forget that I have a plan sitting right in front of me, usually because I get so caught up in the moment and excited about what we are talking about/working on, especially when things are going very well. Other times it is because I think of something better or more appropriate to do/talk about, instead of what I originally had planned.

Although some times when I do this it happens that what I think may be a "good idea" or thought actually turns out to be not such a good idea and ends up creating confusion. Mostly because since I did not prepare it beforehand my explanations and such are poor and some times miss guided. But hey, we all have to learn from our mistakes as much as we learn from our successes. :)

Ashley said...

@MC
I completely know what you mean. I tutor either one-on-one or in a group or 2-3 students. Some of the time I will have lots of things prepared and other times I will only have a few things prepared. Either way I usually end up digressing from my original point because we get sidetracked or our lesson goes in a direction that I had not anticipated. Especially when the student asks a question and then I have to answer it on the spot. So just like you I too have it show whether i am properly organized or not because there are so few of them which means that there is either a lot of awkward pauses as I attempt to think to answer their question or whether or not I have had my things and lesson properly prepared and organized.

Ashley said...

I've noticed after reading quite a few of these posts that a lot of people do the same thing I do, and that is, to quote someone's post we "follow the teachable moments". A majority of people seem to have their lesson plans made up and to attempt to follow it but they also like to follow the flow of the class. And if that means going off on a relevant tangent in order to learn and grasp things then that is what needs to happen. It's up to the teacher’s discretion to know when these moments are important and necessary and when to follow them through. I've noticed myself that I sometimes let my tutorees lead the session because I would rather have them tell me what they know and want to learn then for me to attempt to teach something or talk about something that they may not have interest in.

Carolyn said...

I would have to go along with what Ashley has said along with what other teachers in training have written as well, "follow the teachable moments."

For me, this occurred this week while I was teaching my first lesson about music festivals to the seven classes that I teach through rotations. During one the classes, one of the students was talking about a music festival in Belgium called Tomorrowland. I had never heard of it and so the student explained it to me and during their work time, we listened to the after movie of the music festival which was all music and the students loved it! As I was going around and checking in with each group, many of the students shared more information about this festival which helped give me the idea that for the next lessons, I should show the students different festivals in the United States so they can learn about them and get more ideas about what music festivals/festivals are and perhaps how they compare to the USA.

Taylor Shryne said...

My lesson plans are more of a reference for me. I make them relatively detailed, but they mainly just line out what pertinent topics I need to cover during the class period and a few activity ideas. However, I find that a lot of times class will take a different direction. It is hard to anticipate certain questions or problem areas that might come up during class. Most of the time, someone will ask a question that leads into a whole other discussion that maybe isn't relevant to the lesson itself but is important to discuss nonetheless. I think it is really important to take mistakes and questions that come up in class and turn it into a good teaching opportunity. A detailed lesson plan is important, but you can't rely on them too heavily - you have to go with the flow of the class.

Jennifer Speier said...

I definitely keep my lesson plan as the loose guide. I usually go off my first (bulleted) draft of my lesson plan. I keep it open so I can reference it if I need to, but usually I go with the feel of the class. For me the shorter my class, the easier it is to kinda go with the flow. When I have longer classes with lots of information that I have to get across, I find myself a) watching the clock more and b) sticking to my plan more.

There have been many situations where I did not anticipate getting into a cultural discussion but questions were brought up from readings and that is where the conversation went. For me it is important to take advantage of these moments because there are so few native teachers at my school and so few foreigners to interact with, the knowledge of the US is really low and really stereotypical.

I can identify with the other examples that people have given above, such as bless you and thank you for sneezing.

I usually come up with more examples while I'm teaching than I do when planning ahead of time. I try to take all those extra things and add them to the lesson plan after the fact so I can remember them for next time.