Planning & Supporting Strong English Programs (Part 5)
By Elaine Gallagher, Ph. D. PART 5 – PLANNING Time blocks Cycles Long-term / short-term CENNI Planning with the goals in mind ——————————————————————— Blocks of […]
PART 5 – PLANNING
- Time blocks
- Long-term / short-term
- Planning with the goals in mind
- Blocks of time
Most public schools in Brazil or Mexico, and many private schools, in pre-school and primary levels, have English only two or three times a week for 45 minutes each class. In secondary, there is less time, about 2 hours a week.
Therefore, teachers will need to use the English time as wisely as possible, having procedures and routines in place to allow optimum Academic Learning Time in the English class.
With such a small amount of time, emphasis must be placed on the oral language development and the social – cultural development of the students in order to reach PNIEB (Plan Nacional de Inglés en Educación Básica) goals.
- Cycles and CENNI Levels
(CENNI = Certificación Nacional de Nivel de Idioma)
The organization of cycles and time blocks with many national plans is shown below. Obviously, if English classes are conducted only 90 -129 minutes per week, reaching levels of CEFR will not be as rapid as if classes were 1/2 day English and 1/2 day Spanish as in Spain’s public schools, or many private schools in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
K3 1 2
5 6 1
-1 1 +1 2 3
CENNI identifies levels of English evidenced from beginners to advanced students. The highest level of CEFR expected in Mexican public schools is B-1, expected to be reached by the end of secondary.
BACKGROUND OF CENNI
- CEFR: Common European Framework Reference of Language Learning
In the late 1980’s, more than twenty European countries began to research and document what skills and abilities needed to be exhibited to demonstrate language knowledge, in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, under various situations: social, professional, family, academic, and professional, etc.
After much work, in 1991, in Switzerland, the consortium of language educators and linguistic specialists, presented their findings and recommendations in a 265 page document, named, «Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment».
What they succeeded to do was to specifically list observable actions, which would exhibit language ability under a variety of circumstances, and at various levels.
They divided language abilities, for any language, into six classifications: A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, C-1, C-2, with A-1 being the basic level, and C-2 the most proficient level.
See the following three charts (#1, #2, #3) to obtain a clearer picture of the CEFR. You can see that the six levels are clearly divided.
Notice that first grade of primary is NOT usually considered to be at the A-1 level because most young children do not have the smoothness or fluency that A-1 level would exhibit.
Following, is another chart (#2) that explains a bit more of the CEFR.
A summary of the six levels of the CEFR..
Global View: Common Levels of Reference for Language Acquisition
Common European Framework: Standards for Language
If you want to see a narrative summary of the six levels, here is a very brief summary of the 265 pages so you can get a general idea of the CEFR.
|All of the qualifiers listed in the levels below, PLUS:|
|Can understand practically everything, reading, writing, listening, and speaking, almost as a native speaker. Can express spontaneously, with great fluency, and can present, with a great degree of precision, with an ample vocabulary, in a very coherent manner.|
|Is able to use the language in a fluent and flexible form. Can produce clear writing and speaking. Is able to use the language in social, academic, and professional situations. The language use is well-structured, fluid, and spontaneous. Uses the mechanics of a language with precision and fluency.|
|Can understand the principal ideas of texts, and can work with concrete and abstract ideas within their age range or their area of specialization. They can write clearly and detailed and can defend themselves in the language, giving pros and cons of their opinion.|
|Can understand in some work or school situations. Can use the language to survive when traveling where language is utilized. Can describe experiences, and can briefly give an opinion or express future plans.|
|Can understand phrases and expressions if used frequently, especially if they are relevant and useful in school, home, work, shopping, and restaurants. Can describe things in their environment in simple terms, using present or past references. Can ask about things that are of basic necessities: food, sleep, bathroom, etc.|
|Can understand and use expressions of daily habits, such as «Hello. How are you?» Can ask basic questions about home, preferences, personal belongings, to persons they know. Can understand others if they speak slowly and clearly and have an attitude of helping the new language learner. Can give their name and address to friends, and use simple phrases to meet personal needs. Is fluent, speaking smoothly.|
- CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning
Once the Common European Framework Reference was established and accepted, and publishers were required to eliminate the traditional designations of «Advanced», «Intermediate», and «Beginning» levels, language learning and teaching began to change.
Publishers had to indicate on the front cover of their language teaching books, a small circle of yellow stars (representing the European Union); within the circle, the language level of the text had to be indicted, such as «A-1» or «B-2», etc.
Once this was in effect, schools and teacher-preparation programs had a dilemma. They asked, » How do we teach languages to students so they will reach the levels of the CEFR?»
This was a serious problem, because since the CEFR emphasized oral fluency, bi-cultural knowledge, projects, small group activities, life-long learning, among other things, schools were not prepared. Most language courses were very traditional, with memorization, translations, workbooks to complete, grammar emphasis, phonics, fill-in-the-blanks, copying, language patterns to complete, all of which presented fake, artificial communication styles…
» I am…..you are…..he is…….she is……we are….you are…they are…..»
does not lead anyone to language fluency.
Nor does: » I go.» ….»He goes.» …..»I went.» …»They went.»…etc.
No one talks that way, so it was obvious that the traditional way of language teaching would not obtain the desired results of oral fluency, the kind of ability needed in the 21st Century.
Linguistic experts and language educators began to meet in Finland at the University of Jyvaskyla, in Helsinki, Finland. The diverse group of educators, from 20 + countries, headed by David Marsh, investigated many language teaching programs in order to plan what they would recommend to the European Union in keeping with CEFR goals.
- Long-term / short-term planning and management
Long-term planning is essential so that teachers will know where they are going during the entire school year. Chapter titles, units, sections, or major themes are outlined, month-by-month, with the number of text pages to be taught each month are calculated. This helps the long-term, so that the end of the school year does not arrive with much material undone.
Short-term planning is based on the long-term plans, with more specific notes on: what is to be taught, how, materials to use, ways to exhibit the learning, assessments, explained in blocks of time, such as for every two weeks, for example. Short-term plans should include the topics of the lesson, the methods, the materials, and the evidence that the learning took place.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT & PLANNING
THINGS TO LOOK FOR AND TO ASSESS:
The Physical Setting
- The room and contents are arranged for productive and formative work that allows for optimal learning.
- The classroom set up allows for educator accessibility and availability to the students.
- The educational displays set up on the wall space, are educational, orderly, interesting, attractive and simple and not over cluttered. They have relevance to what is taught.
- The classroom is attractive, orderly and clean.
- The materials are accessible, kept in order and supply.
- The classroom is inviting and comfortable yet productive.
- The atmosphere in the class is positive; a spirit of charity, unity and teamwork reigns.
- The time is used to full capacity for student learning: time is not wasted; there are few disruptions or distractions.
- Students are engaged in their learning, actively involved in their work and visibly on task.
- A positive, calm, pleasant, work-oriented environment.
The Observable Characteristics of a Well- Managed Classroom
- A well-managed classroom is a task-oriented and predictable environment. The students know what is expected of them and how they are to do it to achieve success.
- The students are respectful of the teacher and of one another.
- The class expectations are well defined and posted centrally for all to read.
- The students know what is expected of them and are able to meet and exceed these expectations.
- The students understand the procedures as well as put them into practice.
- Students are on task and working.
- The students know the objectives of the assignments they are completing.
- The students know that all classroom work and tests are based on specific objectives essential for their academic formation.
- The students understand that all aspects of what and how they do something in the class effects their own formation and that of their peers.
- The students can work both independently and cooperatively.
- The students are academically successful.
- The students respond positively and appropriately to one another and to the teacher.
- The students respond to the teacher.
- The teacher has a plan for everything: procedures, discipline, rewards, lessons, assignments, tests, activities, and even surprises…
- The teacher communicates expectations to the student.
- The teacher begins classes on time and follows the pre-approved schedule in the classroom.
- The teacher has a consistent signal to gain the attention of the students.
- The teacher maintains a formative discipline plan. It is positive, motivational, purposeful, and constructive.
- The teacher has developed a positive and personal rapport with each student.
- The teacher maintains some form of personal contact with each student on a daily basis.
- The teacher has established clear expectations with the students in terms of presenting, practicing, and positively reinforcing the procedures and norms.
- The teacher is vigilant and uses every moment as an opportunity to form the students.
- The academic instruction is primarily teacher-led and directed.
- The teacher is kind and firm, always available and ready to serve yet maintains the authority of his or her role.
- The teacher circulates the room, goes to each student to check on, assist, and verify their progress by answering questions, giving positive motivation to each one and periodically as a whole. “You are all working so wonderfully on this assignment, great work!”
- The teacher is on top of correction if it is needed and addresses the situation at hand.
- The teacher exemplifies respect and the dignity of the person in dealing with his or her students.
Considerations for the floor space
- The teacher makes a plan for the setup of the classroom that incorporates the space wisely.
- No traditional rows with students far from the teacher.
- The physical arrangement involves the set up of the furnishings, the student desks, teacher’s desk, bookshelves, additional worktables, furniture, and workstations.
- To design the floor plan, one must consider the flow and ease of movement in the class, visual access and proximity of students to the black/white board and the teacher.
- The preparation and the arrangement of the physical space in the classroom should enhance the security, efficiency, and accessibility of the students and the teacher.
Consider the following:
- Arrange furnishings and displays suitable to the implementation of the curriculum for the age group.
- Ensure proper furnishings are in place and in good condition.
- Arrange for the number of student desks required.
- If possible, arrange desks in semi-circles or U’s to allow the teacher and students to circulate freely and efficiently. Traditional rows take up too much space.
- During instruction, all eyes should be on the teacher.
- Ensure exits are clear of obstructions and the room is open and inviting.
- Have organized procedures as to how the students keep track of their books. and materials.
- The classroom is pleasantly decorated with students’ artwork.
- Decorations bulletin boards, and materials are educational, and purposeful, supporting the curriculum objectives.
- Keep visual distraction to a minimum. The displays should be educational, ordered, and simple to avoid student distraction.
- One bulletin board should be reserved for displaying student work.
- Depending on the grade level of the students, one bulletin board should be designated as a calendar board, which remains constant throughout the year.
- Designate a section of a bulletin board or board for posting the day’s schedule, objectives, class assignments, homework, notices, and upcoming events.
- Write homework on the board before the students come into the classroom. Write it consistently in the same area so the students will be accustomed as to where to find this instruction. Allow class time for them to write homework down.
- Post the morning routine to follow and projects that students can work on if they have completed the regular days’ work.
- A classroom welcome sign should be posted at the start of the year based on a theme for the first month of school.
- Ensure the student desks and lockers are neat and orderly at all times.
- Show the students how to keep possessions neat and orderly.
Developing Classroom Procedures
- Morning routines: for example, -upon entering the classroom, we take out our books for class and read silently until class begins.
- Movement within the classroom: how to line up, stand, sit, transitions in class, from one class to another, at recess, at lunch, entering the classroom, class dismissal
- Organization: systems for collecting, grading and returning papers and homework, grading-recording grades, extra credit, portfolios, distributing materials
- Interactions between teacher and student: how to gain the teacher’s attention, how to ask for help, when and how to address peers
Have Procedures Ready For….
- An emergency alert and situation
- Disposing of trash
- What to do when one enters the classroom
- How and when to sharpen pencils
- Responding to questions
- Responding to the bell
- Going to the bathroom
- Class discussions
- Obtaining a pencil, paper or other materials
- Gaining the class’ attention as a whole
- Keeping one’s desk and belongings orderly
- Working in groups
- Notebook work
- Turning in assignments
- Exchanging papers
- School wide announcements
- Going to the library
- In the gymnasium
- At recess
- Textbook distribution
- Students turning in work
- Rewards and incentives
- Communicating with parents
- Signals for students’ attention
- Daily routines – beginning of day, transition times, independent and group work
- Agenda use and motivators
- Discipline guidelines and rules
- Fire drills
- All routines activities
- Planning with the final goals in mind
Good procedures emphasize the necessity of planning with the final goal in mind….
You need to know where you want to arrive before you can plan how to get there. If oral fluency and social / cultural aspects of learning are to be the final goal, then we will need to plan in a way that sees us arriving there.
More student talk, less teacher talk, more high level thinking and open-ended questions, plus teaching our children the social skills entwined with language, and the cultural awareness of countries and their languages…all should be part of the 21st Century excellent teaching.
This is the end of Part 5.
Next, on Part 6: ‘Assessments’