by Scott Shelton
lesson plan 1
Please note: for this lesson you will
need a copy of Raymond Carver's short story 'So much water,
So close to home'
aims and Objectives
1. To encourage extensive reading outside of class time
2. To create student interest in the story
1. To provide exposure to other accents
2. To provide intensive reading practice
3. To provide extensive listening practice
4. To provide opportunity for speaking
5. To allow for interpretation of events in the story
lesson fits in nicely with the course book unit we began last
We are focusing on stories, reading, storytelling and storytellers.
We have looked at structures and framework of traditional
tales and urban myths. We have also analyzed features that
storytellers use to add spice to their stories and how voice
can be used to bring them to life. This was dealt with through
extensive listening and oral shadow reading to raise student's
awareness of these aspects and to provide them with practice.
We have read one short story, worked on comprehension and
inference skills, vocabulary and language analysis. I feel
that this group would benefit greatly from engaging in more
reading (for pleasure) outside of class and this lesson ought
to at least get them started by reading something more on
needs and this lesson
a way in to this lesson I set the class the task of creating
the questions for a class survey on reading including the
what, how, why, where, when and how much of reading, relating
to each student. Two groups then exchanged surveys, answered
each other's questions and finally got into pairs to interview
each other and create a reader profile for each student. It
came out that although most everyone read a lot, and some
more than 60% of it in English, most of what they read was
related to work and they did little extensive reading for
pleasure in English in comparison. Everyone did agree, however,
that reading could help them improve and learn more English
but they didn't have much time for it. It also came out that
the majority enjoyed being read stories.
some will not continue on after this course ends after March,
I feel now is the time to really encourage reading English
for pleasure outside of class. Hopefully the habit will stick
and they will continue progressing through reading after the
course ends. As pointed out in the background paper which
accompanies this lesson, if a learner is to gain the benefits
of reading extensively, what they read needs to interest them
as well as be well within their present level of comprehension
or even just slightly below it. The majority of the class
do read outside of class (in English) even if it is mostly
related to work and not for pleasure. The class and I both
feel that they could benefit greatly from doing more reading
for pleasure and this lesson is aimed at addressing that need
by getting them excited about a story by reading only parts
of it and later discussing and hypothesizing about the content
This lesson is based on a seminar given at International House,
Previous knowledge of narrative murder mystery genre and general
discourse pattern of marital problems.
problems and solutions
Unfamiliar vocabulary might cause problems in understanding
Class will do a context rich, multiple choice exercise based
on pre-selected lexical items. NB this will take place before
the observation. (See exercise included in lesson plan materials)
Some students are slower readers than others.
Listening to and reading the story at the same time should
aid slower readers in keeping up.
It might be difficult to follow the connection between parts
of the story and to infer the relationships and attitudes
alluded to in the story.
Focusing on leading questions before and while reading and
paired discussion after reading should increase their chances
Understanding songs is something most students have problems
with but ultimately enjoy doing.
Allowing prediction before listening and playing the song
after the main themes of the story (the song is based on)
have been at least partially understood should provide them
with the necessary background and interest to increase chances
at success in the task.
This type of story may not usually be of interest to some
Interest may be stimulated by listening to readers breathe
life into the characters. And by leaving much of the story
unread, students may be inclined to read the rest. By presenting
a song based on the story I hope to raise interest as well.
Aids and materials
A story by Raymond Carver titled, "So much water, So
close to home."
§ A song based on the story by Paul Kelly & The Messengers
titled, "Everything turns to white."
§ Questions on the reading done in class
§ A report form to encourage outside reading
§ An Overhead projector
class consists of 10 students. I have been with the majority
of these students since October and I am generally pleased
with their motivation and progress. There are two students,
both named Raul, who have been in this class since September
and are among the 'strongest' of the group in terms of overall
level. The majority, as I mentioned have been coming to class
since October or at least for the past three to four months
with the exception of Javier who has only just joined the
class at the beginning of January. He is arguably the 'weakest'
student in the group, especially in the areas of listening-
comprehension, and pronunciation. The majority are doing quite
well at their present level and with the exception of Javier,
I suspect that they will all do well on their 'end of level'
exam coming up at the end of march. Alicia and Dario are among
the better writers in the group and have a more diverse range
of vocabulary and structures when speaking as well.
They are largely young professionals between the ages of 21
and 35 and come to class directly after work. Most use English
at work on a daily basis as was made apparent in their answers
to a questionnaire on reading habits and reading in English.
Several of them are doing something related to economics and
therefore read lots of press in order to keep up with the
daily changes in the market. One student, Carlos, is a professional
writer and writes for a women's magazine. They are motivated
and enjoy each other's company in class, work well in groups
and pairs and are fairly autonomous when asked to work on
their own or do homework. They do come straight from work,
however and although they make the effort, not everyone is
able to get to class on time. I have made a point of not making
a big deal of this but I do start the class punctually with
whoever is there and that motivates everyone to try to be
punctual. The course they are currently on ends at the end
of March and that is one big reason for this lesson as I want
to encourage them to continue to improve their English outside
of class and I believe extensive reading is key in this area.
the lesson plan procedure
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