How to Write Effective World Language Lesson Plans -2


THIS component is crucial if you want to write effective lesson plans: TENSION

Do you have enough tension in your lesson?

 I don’t mean bad tension, the kind that raises the affective filter and shuts the brain off.  I mean the good kind that motivates students to hustle.

How to Write Effective World Language Lesson Plans, Part 2: Tension

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, the most important component of a successful lesson plan is a well written learning objective.

In this post, we’re going to discuss another important element – tension.  As you can see in my lesson plan template, there is a block dedicated to tension under the subcategory, “Anticipatory Set,” courtesy of Madeline Hunter.  Why do I include it? Because if I don’t, students won’t engage but, if I do, they’ll hustle.

It’s basic human psychology.

Years ago I attended a professional development session presented by an exemplary teacher for whom I have much respect.  She taught us a new concept and then gave us our assignment.  No one, including overly-conscientious me, could adequately perform the task because we hadn’t been paying attention during the presentation, nor were we motivated to do so because there was no accountability.

Comparatively, when I present a workshop, I begin by telling my audience what we will be learning and then, immediately afterward, I tell them what THEY will be doing at the end of the lesson to demonstrate what they have learned. It looks something like this:

Today we are going to talk about how to craft an effective closure activity. Then, each group will present their activity in front of the staff.  

Agh!  Burst of adrenaline, focused energy, all eyes on me!

How to Write an Effective Lesson Plans

If responsible adults will not work without accountability, how can we expect adolescents with shorter attention spans to apply themselves?

At the beginning of each class, I project the learning goal in kid-friendly fashion.  For example:

How to Write an Effective Lesson Plans
(Yes, it’s all in Spanish.  My level one students understand it because, for a few months, I also wrote the English underneath the Spanish. Then I just stopped using English.)
How to write effective world language lesson plans part two

So, what happens?

The good students will be motivated by the points, the average students by the competition and ALL students by positive peer pressure, collaboration, and a desire to be accepted and respected.

Every assigned task needs to have an accountability component.  Tell students exactly what they will DO at the end of the lesson: perform, act out, present, lift white boards, participate in a competition, take a quiz/test, etc…  These activities answer the question, “Why should I?”  Additionally, make the assignment due on the same day, or the following day, to enhance motivation.

There are other, more subtle, forms of tension that you do not need to write into your lesson plan but nevertheless have a positive effect.  Here are a few examples to add to your repertoire of effective lesson plans:

1.  Explain the task to students, then project an online timer on the screen so they can see it count down. That always gets them hustling.

2.  Wait time: During question/answer sessions or competitions, ask the question and pause.  Ask it again and pause.  Do NOT say the name of a student or call a number until AFTER you have asked the question.  The delay ensures all students engage because they know they may be called upon. As soon as you say a student’s name the rest of the class is off the hook and tempted to be off task.

3.  Use a stopwatch.  I tell students they have two minutes to turn in their papers.  Then I hit the stopwatch.  As soon as I have all the papers in my hand and all students are quiet and looking at me, I stop the time.  Any time left over gets added to their fun minutes.  (See Fred Jones)

Now that you are equipped with ideas on how to insert tension into your lessons you are on your way to writing effective lesson plans. In case you missed it, here is the previous post: How to Write Effective Lesson Plans, Simplified.

      Here are the posts 3-8:

Effective World Language Lesson Plans, Part Two (How to Add Tension)

Effective World Language Lesson Plans, Part Three (The Hook)

Effective World Language Lesson Plans, Part Four (How Explain, model, demonstrate)

Effective World Language Lesson Plans, Part Five (How to Check for Understanding)

Effective World Language Lesson Plans, Part Six (How to Add the Best Comprehensible Input)

How to Plan an Effective Closure Activity

My next blog post will be dedicated to the anticipatory set, of which tension is only one component. Stay tuned!

But, we need to talk about the holidays because they are around the corner and, just as you need students to intensify their focus, they may be mentally on vacation!

Good news! I just finished a Christmas bundle with captivating visuals that will keep students’ interest while they learn the vocabulary for La Navidad and cultural practices in Spanish-speaking countries.  Students from level one to AP will be able to talk about Christmas in their own country and also learn about, “El Día de Los Reyes Magos,” and, “Las Posadas.”  It also has interactive notebook activities, a Google Drive Activity, and a listening activity for Spanish 3-AP.

Here is the link:  Spanish Christmas PowerPoint, Culture, and Activities

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