What makes a good session title and a good session plan?

In unit 6, we discussed effective session design, produced a plan and evaluated the plan of a colleague on the course.

I actually used my plan and materials in a training session. Many thanks to the teachers who attended to help me practise. 😊

Framing the session title as a question seems to be a popular option. My title was: How can I help my students improve their speaking skills? The focus was on different tasks and procedures, as well as ways to scaffold speaking activities.

What I tried for the first time

1.Approach: participatory. My presence was mainly facilitative.

2. Asking teachers:

  • what makes a good session
  • to come up with  their own criteria against which they would evaluate the session at the end.

Open it here.

3. Using an activity to uncover  teachers’ beliefs about teaching speaking. There were three possible answers.

  • I agree
  • I disagree
  • yes but..

4. Input: Using  a handout with 6 speaking activities.

Asking teachers to choose 2-3 activities, read the procedures and evaluate them.

Would they change anything?

What? Why?

Open it here.

5. Reflective task: Suitcase, freezer and wastebasket. Inspired by  Wright & Bolitho and Martyn Clarke’s cognitive freezer!

6. Emailing teachers a summary of what they talked about, after the session.

  • Choice of topic and task – needs to be relevant and motivating.
  • Using controversial topics to generate discussion.
  • Scaffolding the activity, using videos, flashcards, PowerPoint or  questions to guide students.
  • Getting students’ full attention when describing the task-giving instructions.
  • Choice of hot (on the spot) versus cold (delayed) feedback, depending on level, task complexity and students’ expectations.
  • Facilitating discussions. Standing back and letting them “do the work”.
  • Feeding in some useful language when necessary to avoid breaking their “flow”.
  • Encouraging an it’s ok to make mistakes atmosphere, supporting students to take risks.
  • Asking students how much support they need. Differentiating support.
  • Activating what students already know about the topic/language with brainstorming activities.
  • Pushing students to go beyond their comfort zone. Demand high.
  • Encouraging students  to use lexical chunks, e.g. adjective-noun collocations, phrasal verbs etc.

The main challenge

..was time management. I hadn’t allocated enough time for group tasks. It was the first time I was using this approach and I realised it is more time-consuming.

The best part

..was that there was no flow of knowledge from me to teachers. There were group tasks, pair tasks, and change of partners, which really helped teachers learn from each other. Everyone played an active role and had control over the process. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot by experimenting.

Special thanks to: 💚

Louay Mohammad, Despina Anagnostou and Farida Khan Begum for their support!