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See the presentation used at the webinar:
Planning an online lesson:
What do we know about lesson planning?
Some of us used to work at school or study this at the university, so they told us that every lesson has some classic structure:
- Saying hello
- Revising previously learned material
- Homework check
- Presentation of new material
- Finishing the lesson
But how about an online lesson? Is the structure different?
The answer is both “yes” and “no”.
Online lessons have a number of unique features which require certain flexibility from the teacher.
- One of the top important ones – and I want to say this now, before we start the boring theory – please switch from screensharing back to the video as often as you can. First of all, when you are having a lesson in skype, sometimes kids cannot see your face when you are screensharing, so you loose their attention easily. And even if you use some other videochat – for example, our Allright platform – where the students are still able to see you, please don’t forget to sometimes switch screensharing off and just establish eye contact, this is so much important. And also – this is just boring to look into the book for the whole of the lesson 🙂
Let’s go through all the parts of the lesson to find out what is important for planning an online lesson:
1) Saying hello…
…is really important 🙂 Doing it lively and actively helps to build a friendly atmosphere at the lesson.
When I was working at school we used to have some routine warm-up at the lessons. It helped to roll the students into the lesson. As they knew all the questions beforehand, then even the weakest students could participate with some routine answers. For example, we used to ask:
- What day is it today?
- What month is it now?
- What’s the weather like today? Etc.
Of course, that won’t work for an online lesson. Yet, the routine is important.
- So I would suggest to ask the student about how he is doing, about the weather, about his pet or friends, what he did yesterday, etc. Include questions to practice some grammar topic, studied previously: “What are you doing now? What did you do yesterday? What are you going to do tomorrow?” etc.
- I also like using some games at this stage. For young children this is really great to play “emotions” mime game, asking questions “How are you? Good? Bad? Sad? Hungry?”
- Use a puppet or a toy to talk to the student instead of you: “Hello! What’s your name? How are you? What are you doing?”
It is important to connect today’s topic to the one, studied during the previous lesson.
For example, we are going to study the names of the rooms in the house today.
So, I would revise the furniture first, as we probably studied this at the previous lesson.
Ways to revise something:
- Use flashcards / toys / real objects (“Look and say”, “What is missing” etc)
- Use a board game.That’s an interesting thing to do.
You can download some board game and play it with the student at the beginning of your lesson.
If your student is confident about using the computer, you can place the board game to an online whiteboard and place there.
If not – then you can just screenshare and move the chip around the board yourself.
To throw the dice you can use any online service, just google for “throw the dice online”.
4) Homework check.
This part can be optional for online lessons.
Not all students like to have homework. Some of them agree for having exercises as homework, some just learn the words, others like to have cartoons or movies for self-study.
You need to agree about this with your student and his parents when they come to their permanent lesson.
5) Presentation of new material.
- Starting from here you can use either your own materials or the book – that doesn’t matter. There are different ways to present the material and this is worth of another webinar, of course. Just make sure that you present it in some vivid and interesting way.
Remember that we don’t present grammar rules just as they are – we present it as a construction, showing an example in speech or text or a comic.
Both an offline and an online lesson should include different kinds of tasks to practice the lesson’s language. But the priorities are different:
- 50% of the lesson falls for speaking practice; some schools even have special software which analyzes the recording of the lesson and counts how much the student was speaking. Make sure that your student speaks at least as much as you do, and of course try encourage him to speak with complete sentences, not just “yes” or “no”. At least make it “Yes, it is” or “No, I don’t” 🙂
- Second important part is listening. The student already practices it alongside with speaking, while listening to the teacher’s questions. There are also lots of listening tasks in our book. You can also use cartoons and short movies together with comprehension tasks to practice listening.
- Reading is only the third on the list. Believe me, your student does enough reading at his school English lessons. So try to avoid long texts without pictures 🙂 Our book has funny comics which work totally great. If you need to teach reading to your student – there is a colorful course in our library.
- Writing. This is always a hard question for online lessons. Well, normally we do not practice writing here. I mean the usual writing – using paper and a pen. This is the least practiced skill at online lessons.
Of course, you cannot avoid it at all. And you shouldn’t. Try to shift writing for homework.
Then, when you need to check your student’s writing, ask him to show it into the camera or to make a photo and send it to you. You can check it together using the paint program on your computer.
Starting from around 9 y.o. the students are perfectly able to type. Use it, but make it fun.
I like having a dictation in the skype chat – the students type the words and I send them smiles – happy ones for correct answers and sad or angry ones if there is something wrong.
You can also go to an online whiteboard, post an exercise there and ask your student to type the answers in. But don’t do too much of writing during the lesson – 5 min out of 30, not more.
7) Finishing the lesson.
I remember my head teacher at school used to say: if you don’t finish the lesson properly, then count you didn’t have this lesson at all.
What I usually do: I go through the topic we did today and make some small revision.
For example, if we studied the rooms, so I would name some piece of furniture and make the student shout out a room, where it could be appropriate.