Plan and Manage the Learning Process
The course outline or scheme of work ‘is a plan which organises course content breaking it up into teaching weeks or lessons and putting it into logical order’ (Petty G 2001). One of the main aims of the scheme of work is to achieve the course aims in the most efficient way. (Reece I Walker S, 2001) There are a number of factors which need to be taken into account when designing a scheme of work. One must consider the aims and objectives of the course and plan to make them realistic and attainable.
We also need to consider our teaching techniques that will be used to deliver the training and try to ensure that they take into account different learning styles. The syllabus that learners are following is also an important consideration as it will inform the scheme of work. However the teacher must interpret the syllabus and deliver the subject matter in ‘bite size’ portions which are manageable for the learners.
Other important considerations in designing a scheme of work are the prior knowledge of students, students’ interests, individual learning needs of students and the structure of the course which should be logical and progressive with links between the topics. It is crucial to build in revision into the programme as this enables learners to consolidate their learning and also help absentees to catch up with sessions they have missed. Learners needs are the most important consideration when devising a scheme of work or lesson plan.
Assessment is a crucial factor in the scheme of work discussed in depth in unit 116 Assessment is used to assess and place students on suitable courses; as a diagnostic tool to determine the students need for Additional Learner Support; to find out the level of students’ learning and ascertain Accreditation for Prior Learning (APL). In general, identifying strengths and weaknesses, reviewing performance and setting targets through formative and summative assessment is important in lesson planning and designing a scheme of work.
One must also think about the pace, resources, techniques and methods and should check with learners on an ongoing basis that these elements are satisfactory. Assessments methods should also be incorporated in the scheme of work. Last term I taught an Entry 3 literacy class at Westminister Kingsway College. The general syllabus for this course is laid down by the National Curriculum. During the summer term the students will be assessed for the Edexcel Entry Level Certificate in Skills for working Life.
The units consisted of five units -health and safety, Information technology, Introduction to skills for work, introduction to Business administration, Introduction to business and Introduction to Computers as an option unit. The units were delivered by three tutors. The topic delivered by myself and the course tutor was the ‘Skills for Work’ unit. Capable Students are also expected to take the National Test in literacy at Entry 1. A number of the modules are interrelated so one scheme of work is produced in order to share information between the tutors about the topics that the students are learning.
Within these constraints I was able to take the provisional scheme of work, rearrange and adapt it to match teaching session. I examined the syllabus, core curriculum and course tutor’s provisional scheme of work and individual needs grids before devising a devising a scheme of work of my own. I included teaching strategies and methods, resources and assessment procedures. I also looked at the core curriculum skills that the students were expected to achieve. I tried to set achievable objectives, identifying individual targets and timed activities.
I aimed to link the lessons together and to the SOW. As the topics related to the long term goals of many of the students, it should help to ensure maximum interest and motivation of the students. I am thoroughly in agreement with Petty when he states that ‘the knowledge, abilities ,skills experience, preferences and expectation of course participants should bear on any course designed for them’ (Petty G 2001) Another important factor that needs to be considered is the prior learning and skills of students. This is achieved by both formal and informal means.
The student fills out an application form and has initial and diagnostic tests to determine prior learning, experience, skills and expectation of the learner. I also talked to students on an informal basis to glean any important information relevant to their needs and used observation in the classroom to determine learning styles before using a more formal learning styles questionnaires at a later date. Learning targets that are reviewed from time to time to ensure that individual learning goals are met. The learners ILPs can be used to inform the scheme of work, lesson plans and class targets.
Formative and summative testing results can be used to modify the scheme of work and lessons plans. Incorporating students’ prior experiences in the lesson plan help create and retain interest in the subject matter. I try to elicit students’ prior experience on the class topics – the students feel included and valued and the information can often generate good learning opportunities. Many of my lessons plan show this element has been incorporated and I have found it often engenders an interesting discussion with good student participation.
All these considerations are essential in meeting individual needs, structuring the course, lesson plans, and in planning teaching techniques to meet a range of needs and in accommodating different learning styles. It is particularly importantly to identify any special needs of students and structure activities accordingly. The diagnostic test should identify any special learning needs of students. I had a dyslexic student in my class who preferred cream handouts so I tried to accommodate her where possible. I also tried to increase her confidence by pointing out her strong points in tutorial-She was quite good at expressing herself verbally.
I also build in revision which I found that most students find useful. I used large fonts on the overhead projector at times and tried to keep teacher talk to a minimum to accommodate those students especially who have difficulty concentrating as in the case of my student with mental health difficulties. However, keeping teacher talk to a minimum has been found to be beneficial to most students as it has been found to be a method of learning that does not benefit retention of knowledge to any great degree. Another aspect that needs to be taken into account in designing a scheme of work is the structure.
One should start off with easier topics and build up to more difficult ones and at the same show a relationship between the topics building in revision to aid the learning process. (Walker S, 2001) Bruner called this the spiral curriculum. One should hold students interest by beginning with an interesting topic, vary and balance each session including new work and revision. Some topics may need more than one session and this should be a consideration. (Wallace S, 2001) I had to reschedule on more than one occasion to finish off topics we were doing.
The course started off looking at students’ skills and abilities. Many of the students seemed to enjoy this session and it was chosen as we felt it was a topic students would all be able to participate in and would enjoy particularly in examining their positive skills and abilities. Learning content, teaching techniques and strategies also need to be taken into account in devising a scheme of work. Interesting activities and teaching strategies were used in an attempt to appeal to all learning styles and ensure a high level of student participation and motivation.
The students were sometimes given a choice of activity eg one more than one occasion we spent longer on an activity to accommodate students’ interests . They were particularly interested in a student presentation they were doing ‘skills necessary for different types of jobs, so we agreed to spend longer on this topic than I had planned. Taking the students interests into account in this way ensure a high level of student participation and motivation. In fact they were all very enthusiastic and had to be coerced to go for a break!! . Conversely, if students seem to be flagging, I sometimes suggest an early break.
They can then return refreshed and more able to concentrate on the work. Course objectives must be achievable and realistic, particularly taking into consideration the affective, cognitive and psychomotor domains as described by B. S Bloom’s ‘Taxonomy of Educational Objectives’. Lesson plans must have clear SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) objectives. It is useful to have lesson objective from the cognitive domain e. g. knowledge and comprehension; the affective domain e. g. valuing conceptualising such activities as discussions and the psychomotor domain, e. . demonstration using of visual aids etc. and have measurable . assessment methods to show that the objective are being met.
Lesson Planning and Resources The basic principles of teaching relate to effective communication and should be incorporated in the lesson plan. By effective communication we mean the whole ambience of proficient teaching rather than simply verbal and non-verbal communication. One of the first considerations in lesson planning is the learning environment. The room in which I taught last term was less than ideal, being cramped and hot with noisy ventilation.
One has to work within the constraints of the environment and can only improve it slightly by opening the doors or turning the ventilation on and off. The tables were arranged in a cafe style model with students sitting at tables in groups of about four or five. This I find is a good layout for student communication and group work but the disadvantage is that some students have their backs to the whiteboard and turning round to view the board can be an uncomfortable experience in a small confined space. I sometimes joined the students at their tables.
The room however is not really conducive to this activity unless a few students are absent as it is very small and often difficult to move around the classroom. I have to take into consideration that the immediate ‘teaching environment… constrains the teaching process’ and plan lessons around the facilities and resources available to me. (Curzon L. B 1997 p 163) The classroom layout is an important factor. The ‘horseshoe’ can facilitate group discussion and the teacher can join the circle to connect with the students rather than stand at the front of the class..
Curzon found that student participation ‘grows with the nearness of the student to the teacher that students prefer informality (Curzon, 1997 p196). We need to take all these factors into account when lesson planning to aid effective teaching. The teacher is one of the main resources during the lesson. I try to be enthusiastic, motivating and energetic in order to motivate and enthuse my students. Conversely, I try not to speak in a monotone or mumble to the board or use jargon as all of these factors inhibit learning.
I also try to dress appropriately to project a professional image. It is necessary to be aware of students learning difficulties and plan to these needs during the lesson planning process. I have used coloured handout to accommodate a dyslexic learner as mentioned earlier. I try to use large fonts to aid visibility when using the overhead projector. I found that when I first used the overhead projector the font I used was far too small so subsequently I have used a much larger font. . I also made space available near the door for a wheelchair bound student.
In my entry 2 literacy class that I now teach at Harrow college, I have a hearing impaired student that I seat very close to me and try to ensure that he is able to read my lips by trying to mouth my words carefully. Many of my students have mental health problems so I must try to keep teacher talk to a minimum as they are not able to concentrate for long periods. Reece and Walker conveys that a teacher who relies on lectures alone will be ineffectual in the teaching However a certain amount of teacher talking is necessary to pass on information and tie in information with the syllabus (Reece and Walker 2000 p136).
Teacher talk can be improved with the Overhead projector where pictures can be added to facilitate visual learners. Question and Answer sessions announced in advance can improve the teacher talk sessions by increasing attention levels. Open questions require a more developed answer and this is a skill that I am trying to develop further. .I have to be aware that absences are often caused by illness or hospital appointments. At Entry 3 literacy class I need to balance the requirements of the National Curriculum (hard targets) and targets identified by the students that they would particularly like to learn (soft targets).
Using a variety of teaching methods and strategies to engage all learning styles and retain interest in crucial in lesson planning. Not all students will enjoy all types of learning activities so the larger the range the more likely that all the students will be engaged. (Petty, 2001) Using an ice breaker at the first session is important to encourage group bonding. I usually have a ‘learn my name’ type session but with entry 3 as I did not join the course in the first term and the students knew each other well by the time I joined the group in January.
It is also a good idea to begin with a recap of the previous lesson and this can be seen on many of lesson plans. Group work should be encouraged and I have done a lot of group work with my entry 3 literacy group. Retention levels are much higher with group work and discussion that with more inactive methods such as teacher talk. Monitoring and evaluation learning by listening and observation has been a part of many of my lesson plans Knowledge of learning theories especially group and motivation theory is especially useful when planning lessons.
We can use different theories of learning (behaviourist, cognitive, Gestalt, and humanist ) to inform the learning process. (See Unit 112). The lesson plan should aim to incorporate a wide range of theories, activities and strategies appropriate to the needs of learners ranging from the behaviourist approach-achievement of targets- specified by the National curriculum to the more learner centred approach of the humanists. It is important to remember too, that learning is not simply an assimilation of facts but develops over time (Petty G 2001)
Available resources make an impact on lesson planning. In Westminister Kingsway all the classrooms have an OHP, whiteboard so these resources can be incorporated into the lesson plan as well as worksheets which can be adapted and photocopied. Teachers have access to a mass of materials ranging from books to the internet and one feature of our course was the encouragement of 7407 students to share resources which reduces preparation time as teachers who need only adapt available resources.
I have made and shared a game that I developed with the other students and have also adapted and used a resource produced by our group. My scheme of work was discussed with the course Tutor and was reviewed and adapted on a couple of occasions. On one occasion we decided to move the session on voluntary work nearer to end of the scheme to follow as a more relaxing session after the units on writing cv’s and application forms.
One another occasion I found that I needed to do two sessions on writing a personal statement so adjusted the scheme of work accordingly . We also decided that Students would need extra time towards the end of the term to practice for Level 1 exams and this was added into the scheme of work. Students are due to take the national level 1 test early in the summer term. Lesson planning and the scheme of work need to be adapted to meet the needs of students wherever possible.
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