Planning – end of term review

In the lead up to the term I’ve just completed, I’d participated in a webinar which awoke an interest in reflecting on how I plan lessons.

I decided to use the questions below to analyse the way  that I plan.

What do I take into consideration?

Why do I decide on certain activities and others?

Do I use certain activities too frequently?

Why do I change activities?

What happens in the classroom?

Why do I alter items in class?


It’s been an interesting term for planning, mainly because I’ve had to deal with two new modules (as mentioned in a previous post). Adding an extra layer of complexity the planning process were students joining the course right up until week 5. Luckily, the other students needed quite a bit of recycling (although this did make it difficult to cover all the content). Due to the nature of the course I had to cherry pick and heavily adapt the coursebook material to ensure all aspects required for assessments were covered.

At the start of the term I was very conscious about presenting more (i.e. talking) then I ordinarily would. I think this was because (1) in lieu of a coursebook I was using powerpoints to present information; (2) my unfamiliarity with the modules and (3) not being quite sure (or confident enough) of areas I could easily hand over to students.  This meant that there was a bit more ‘heads up’ (teacher fronted) than ‘heads down’ (student led) time. However, as term progressed ‘heads up’ time didn’t necessarily mean that the activity was teacher led. As I became more familiar with the modules’ content I began to look at making it more interactive and varied: I used Kahoot!, PollEv , Kubuu and the like to introduce and review content; I incorporated Google Docs (which students could access via links on powerpoints and the college VLE) and Nearpod; I asked students to bring their own materials, to conduct surveys to create their own graphs and included activities such as ‘speed speaking’ (a bit like speed dating).

It’s been interesting to see how my planning has changed over term and although I wasn’t able to review my planning in the way I’d originally intended I did notice aspects I took into consideration when planning and when altering a plan in class. The themes I found are

  1. involving students as much as possible (i.e. having students actively participate)
  2. making the content as interesting as possible (from a student’s perspective)
  3. making the sessions as interactive as possible
  4. ensuring that different mediums are used
  5. bringing the coursebook content ‘off the page’ as often as possible
  6. changing the pace of a session (in the class especially  as a reaction to students’ moods)
  7. altering activities if I had seen a better way of doing them (in the class)
  8. adding extras to challenge students (in the class)

These areas indicate students tend to be the focal point of my planning and my lessons are designed to motivate and encourage students to learn  – where possible in their own way.

It’s a shame I’m not teaching the same modules again this term. If I were I could look in more detail at the frequency of the activities I use. But no, it’s another new module, set of assessments and coursebook for me! No peace…




About sarahali

I am linguist working in the EFL field. I started my teaching career in East Germany in 1997, continuing for a while (7 years) in Austria before settling back in the UK, where I am now based. I have taught English in various forms (ESP, ESOL, Business English, EFL (general) and EAP) to students ranging from 3 years of age to 80. I have written, developed and edited teaching material and curricular for the Arabic speaking world, as well as African countries. I have also written materials and teacher's books for 3-year olds learning in multi-lingual schools in Spain and have worked on translating and adapting Early Readers for the international market. I'm currently a senior tutor for EAP, a TEL coordinator and an academic proofreader. I also work as a freelance materials writer and developer. I speak English, German and French, with a basic knowledge of Arabic and Spanish.
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