English class is not often a favorite when it comes to younger students. “I already speak English, why do I need to take an English class?” is a commonly echoed sentiment in classrooms all over the country.
As you may expect, this makes it even harder on the teacher to create a learning environment that engages their students when they don’t think the class is necessary.
In order to effectively teach English, you will need a solid lesson plan.
What’s a Lesson Plan?
A lesson plan is what you’d guess – a plan for your lesson. However, there is more to it than just choosing the topic to teach. As a teacher, you are tasked with convincing students that they should listen to you for the next few minutes or hours so that you can help them learn about a specific topic.
Many teachers will simply begin by writing on a chalkboard or reviewing homework at the start of a lesson, immediately losing their class’ interest. They will then proceed to talk for an extended period of time about symbolism in Shakespeare, going off-track and barely engaging their students until the bell rings and they miss a section to review.
This leaves the students unengaged because they don’t understand the importance or relevance of the lesson, bored because there’s no interaction or engagement with the materials, and ill-informed because they didn’t receive the full lesson.
A well-constructed lesson plan will solve all three of these shortcomings, and then some. Lesson plans help to provide structure to the lesson, make it progress more smoothly and ensure that the students get something out of it at the end. Here’s how to do that:
Give Purpose to the Lesson
Aside from the dreaded, “pay attention, this will be on your test” threat, there is no better way to get your students’ attention than to make them care about the lesson. When they care they are more likely to listen and be engaged, which will lead to better comprehension and understanding than just memorizing the information. You can do this by setting a learning outcome for your lesson and then setting the lesson up to achieve that outcome.
A learning outcome is what the student should know after the lesson. You can test their level of knowledge using evaluations like worksheets, quizzes and more. For example, if you were talking about symbolism in writing, your lesson outcome could be “decode what a symbol means using context clues”.
In order to get students interested in learning, this learning outcome could be introduced as “learning deductive skills to find hidden meanings”, which sounds much more exciting than identifying what the author meant in line 27!
Keep It Interesting
English classes often cover a wide variety of topics. From grammar, spelling and punctuation to reading and writing, there is a lot to cover and a lot of angles to work from. Unfortunately, not all of these topics are exciting, making it important to spice things up in your lesson plan.
Additionally, many teachers don’t work to include different learning styles into their classes, which can lead to students falling behind. To remedy this, you can develop interactive and engaging activities to mix in to the lesson.
One of the best things you can do as an English teacher is to mix up the activities for different topics, including a variety of different learning styles. For example, you may have some students fall asleep if you read aloud and give lectures on the readings, but if you were to instead group them and have them act out some Shakespeare, everyone is more likely to pay attention and be interested because they are actively involved in doing something.
They will also receive a different perspective on the works than they would simply reading them, encouraging them to seek out more information and motivating them to read the passages themselves and form their own interpretations.
Keep Things on Track
One of the beautiful things about reading is that people have different perspectives and interpretations of what they read, making it easy to have conversations about topics, but it’s also easy to run out of time on lessons. With a well-scheduled timeline in your lesson plan, you can work to touch on the most important topics while still allowing for a discussion, questions and reflection.
An important part of creating a timeline is laying out all the important topics and information needed to achieve the day or week’s learning outcome. This will guide you through the lesson, reminding you of important topics to touch on and how long to spend on each part. Without this structure, you might spend too much time on something insignificant or forget to mention something entirely, leaving your students confused on their quizzes!
Unfortunately, English is often thought of as a dry subject, but in a subject as expansive and underappreciated as English, a lesson plan is crucial to making the most of your time in class and keeping the interest of your students.
Employing a lesson outcome for each lesson will give your lessons a purpose in addition to giving you a direction to tailor the activities and content of the lesson towards. Without it, you may end up forgetting something important, running out of time or losing your students to sleep!