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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 29th, 2006, 09:38 am
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Default planning a curriculum

I am just about to start my first esl job in nearly 20 years though I am a trained, experienced primary school teacher, so it's not as scary as it sounds. I will be teaching kids of expats in China - about 30 in a class, all levels of English (mixed), aged 9-12. I have been given a complete free rein on the curriculum which, though great, is a little daunting. The classes will focus on speaking and listening. I don't want my lessons to be completely random - I feel there needs to be some sort of progression but this will be tough as students will be coming and going all the time. Does anyone have any advice on how I should plan units of work? I am fine on planning individual lessons; just not sure how they'll all fit together - or am I being too conscientious?
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Unread Jun 29th, 2006, 11:52 am
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Default Re: planning a curriculum

hi stanley

first of all, welcome to the site!

i've been in a similar situation before. it won't be as daunting as it sounds. that's for sure.

that being said, here are some tips:

1. instead of developing an entire curriculum, pick a series of textbooks that come with a developed curriculum. then you'll have something that you can build on and add to. you dont have to do everything in the textbooks but at least it will get you started.

2. as far as having students coming and going at anytime with different levels, here's what i used to do at a previous school. this will work if you are the only teacher and your classes dont have to coinside with other teachers' schedules and curriculums. first start off with, for example, a level 1,2 & 3 class. those classes will probably progress at different rates. as the level 1 students move up (into the next textbook) and level 3 students move and start to move on (leave the school) you can just add another level 1 class. eventually, what you'll have are many classes at varying levels but you'll have a nice selection of levels. then when a new student enrolls, they take a level test and go to the appropriate class. that way there will probably always be at least one appropriate class for each student. the main thing you want to avoid is having really mixed classes, as im sure you already know.

3. if you can't have such a free schedule like i just mentioned, you might want to set it up so one book takes about 6 months or a year to get through (depending on the book and how often you see the kids). so, for example, every 6 months the students finish a book and move up a level.

the main challenges of the previous 2 systems is always having a beginner level class available.

now that i re-read your question im not sure if im even answering your question...

anyway, pick a book (preferrable one with a series containing 4-6 different levels) and have your students progress through those. if you keep all the classes in the same series of books the students will get used to the structure of the class and it will be easier for you to make your lesson plans and eventually you'll be able to recycle your lessons as you start to re-teach the same book.

i recommend Let's Go, or for something more conversive, English Time. they both have teachers books, workbooks, student books, videos, tapes, flashcards, etc...

i hope you get something out of that ramblimg...

main point: don't worry! with your experience it won't be as overwhelming as it seems to be now.

eric
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 29th, 2006, 07:47 pm
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Default Re: planning a curriculum

Thank you so much for your informative reply Eric. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to rearrange classes. I just have to put up with mixed ability. Rediculous, but that's China for you! I shall certainly have a look at the text books you mention though I'm not sure I'll be able to afford to buy the whole series. I'll probably end up making a note of the contents and try to develop some sort of differentiated curriculum from there. Thanks again. I'll let you know how it goes when I start in September!
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Unread Jun 30th, 2006, 02:21 am
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Default Re: planning a curriculum

Hi Stanley
I had a free reign in planning my classes curriculum. I had 4 classes ranging from 6-12 years old and within each class there was a varying ability.
I would suggest sitting down with a big calendar and starting with your objectives and expected achievements for the month ahead. You can then break it down week by week. For example, in one week with a class I would devote two days to phonic work and three to the text book. If the text book subject was numbers and colours, I would then look for other backup material to complement that. Also to stop the kids getting fed up with constantly getting out their books I blocked in a couple of days a month of "fun English" where we'd do something different - listen to songs, play games etc.
It helped me focus a lot as I had decided what "topics" were to be covered but I was also able to be flexible and adapt the plan if I needed to. Obviously some things we would cover quickly and others took longer and for me to have a schedule blocked out gave me some kind of structure that I could hang each day's lesson off. It also proved useful as when you get to the next months planning you have an idea of where to go with content.

Hope that made some sense!
Good luck!
xx
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