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Curriculum Planning: Lesson Planning

Lesson Plannning: Learn...

Refering to the instructional unit described on p. 56 of the Planning Curriculum for Learning World Languages guide, let's consider how we move from unit design to lesson planning.

Before designing lessons, the teacher has already done the following:

  • set clear language targets (standards) and expectations (performance
    guidelines)
  • developed a context for the unit by identifying the overarching question
    that fits the stage of language learning (beginning, developing,
    transitioning, or refining) and that has been focused by a thematic
    topic that provides a richness of content to explore
  • described the end-of-unit performance assessment that will provide
    solid evidence of achievement, assessment that incorporates all three
    modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational)
  • identified the key structures and elements of vocabulary that students
    will need to know in order to be successful in the performance assessment

The instructional unit focused on what students needed to know and to practice in order to successfully complete the performance assessment tasks. The teacher broke the performance assessment into its component language functions. From the content standard of “Students will ask and answer questions, including biographical information,” the teacher developed the assessment task of having students share picture books about their family with classmates, finding out additional information about the people pictured on each page. The teacher determined which structures and vocabulary the students needed. The list included certain question words, question formation, how to say “my” and “your,” and a list of descriptive adjectives. Rather than teaching everything there is to know about possessive adjectives or how to ask questions, the instruction focused on what was needed for success in this unit. Grammatical structures and vocabulary were included as needed for the unit assessment.

In order to make sure students were able to perform the assessment task, the teacher designed classroom activities in which students practiced asking questions about people. Students read questions to a partner and wrote down the information learned; they asked memorized questions in rotating pairs, alternating asking and answering; they took a bingo sheet filled with questions about people around the room, asking questions of each other, trying to fill their sheet with positive responses; and they practiced looking at family photographs, asking and answering questions.

Planning for instruction involves making very conscious choices about what students need to learn. Instead of teaching too much of a grammatical structure because the curriculum simply lists the item under the course syllabus or teaching a random series of vocabulary words because they will be seen in a text reading, the teacher consciously chooses what students need based on the end goal. The teacher is highly selective in choosing how much of any grammatical topic to introduce, practice, or review as well as which vocabulary categories and words need to be taught—all selected by the criteria of what is necessary to be successful in the already envisioned performance assessment for this unit of instruction. With the standards as a mind-set the teacher has a solid basis for making critical instructional decisions.

Please read pp. 141-174 of the Planning Curriculum for Learning World Languages guide.

Next: Lesson Planning: Connect-Reflect


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Last updated: August 16, 2005
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