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elementary spanish

Sometimes You Just Need to Ditch Your Lesson Plan

This may seem like an odd idea coming from a curriculum writer, but sometimes you just need to ditch your lesson plan. We’ve all had those days, right? You start teaching your lesson, but for whatever reason, your students are just not with you. Maybe they are over-tired. Maybe they are wired. Or maybe they are simply too distracted by all the noise in their lives that today is just not the day when their attention is on point. Your lesson is not working, so what do you do?

First, you need to recognize that it’s OK to ditch your lesson plan—in fact, it may be your best course of action in this case. The question becomes, “If my lesson is not working, what can I do to still get some value out of this teaching time?” The answer may lie in the answer to another question, “What is alive in your class?” In other words, “What is happening right now in your class or in the lives of your students that you can connect with?” If you can find what’s alive in your class, you can then provide a valuable learning experience. For example:

  • Ditch your lesson plan and use calendar activities to find what’s alive in your class. Through discussions about the weather or the seasons you can find out what activities your students like to do at certain times of the year. Or through the days of the week you can find out what other classes or activities your students have on those days. The method of circling is very effective in these types of discussions. Once you establish a statement, “A Luisa le gusta montar en bicicleta.”, you can then circle with it, build on it, or use it for comparing and contrasting with other students.
  • If there are activities from past lessons that your students really love, ditch your lesson plan and focus on those. If your students love playing El juego de los colores, play it—and maybe you play it for much longer than you normally would.
  • Ditch your lesson plan and take a walk outside. A short walk can provide you with countless opportunities for valuable interpersonal communication.
  • Maybe there is a storybook from a past lesson that your students really love. Ditch your lesson plan and just read the book. Apply the method of shared reading and really let your students get the most out of the storytelling process. Maybe read the book twice. Maybe have students act out the book. Maybe have a discussion about how the book relates to students’ lives.
  • Maybe you have some showboats in your class. Ditch your lesson plan and let them put on a performance. They could make something up, or they could perform songs from Circle Time. You can always use circling to get lots of good follow up interpersonal communication about the performance.
  • If all else fails, ditch your lesson plan and play Loteria.

Language learning, just like all the other content areas, needs to occur in the context of real life. Whether your teaching elementary Spanish or math, it’s a valuable lesson for your students to see that sometimes you need to be flexible by changing your plans and finding a way to connect with others in the moment. So go ahead, ditch your lesson plan.

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