Each week, choose one good lesson, and make it GREAT!

At times I feel inundated with planning and creating fresh ideas for a proficiency-based classroom. I especially felt this way the first year I stopped using the textbook. I had to put everything in perspective: I’m trying something new and it will take time. I won’t always have a perfect lesson. I’ve found that if I try to take one good lesson and make it great, then it all becomes manageable.

Step #1: Find another teacher to plan with

Each week I plan one lesson with another teacher. Sometimes it’s a language teacher at another school, a new teacher, an experienced teacher or a teacher from another content area. It’s so nice to look at a lesson from a new perspective!

Step #2: What’s the authentic goal?

We are both teaching a health/doctor unit, so we chose the “I can describe body parts” goal. We wanted to include the monster listening activity where students listen to a command (draw 5 green heads), they draw it, then they pass their papers to the next person, give another commend, and repeat. Then we would give each student a monster and they would describe it to their partner. They love these activities, but we started asking ourselves the tough questions. WHY do they need to know how to describe body parts? Well, if they go to a doctor’s office, they may need to say “large red swollen finger”. So we rewrote the goal to be more measurable and specific. I can describe body parts including size and color. That meant that they would need vocabulary about size, colors, etc. That’s not that exciting nor is it new vocabulary for this group. Hmm.

Step #3: What’s the culture focus?

None! We had no culture in this lesson. Then we thought of using monsters from Spanish-speaking countries instead of the ones we had from Monster’s Inc. The ideas started flowing! She had a video of “El Cuco“. Great attention grabber! Maybe they could find a video with their monster?!

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Oh! Goya painted “Que viene el Coco”. Grimm has two episodes about Hispanic legends (La Llorona and El Cucuy). Maybe that can be a homework extension activity?!

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Now the vocabulary would need to be adjusted to include some words like “pointed” and “hairy”, so we rewrote the goal one more time.

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Much better! Not only did I learn something new, I’m now excited to teach this lesson.