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Problems of Preparation and Lesson Plan Procedures for the English Language in Erbil City Basic Schools

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The teacher can teach more effectively if he/she makes preparations and well developed plans for the lessons he/she delivers. So, preparation and lesson plan are basic components of teaching in basic school education. The present study, as the title
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   1 Problems of Preparation and Lesson Plan Procedures for the English Language in Erbil City Basic Schools Dr. Ali Mahmood Jukil Assistant professor and Abdul-Nafi' Khidhir Hasan Assistant Instructor Salahaddin University-Erbil College of Basic Education English Department Abstract The teacher can teach more effectively if he/she makes preparations and well developed plans for the lessons he/she delivers. So, preparation and lesson plan are basic components of teaching in basic school education. The present study, as the title refers to, is about problems with preparation and lesson plan procedures in basic schools in the city of Erbil. This paper attempts to identify the areas of weakness in teaching and learning in the schools in question with regard to preparation and lesson plan procedures. It analyses the raw data on a sample of 313 teachers working in the schools above. It also presents a number of suggestions and recommendations that could solve the problems identified. This research paper consists of a number of points and a bibliography. These points are introduction, description of preparation and lesson plan, objectives of preparation and lesson plan, preparation features and lesson plan features, questionnaire, steps taken to carry out the questionnaire, reliability of the assessment, statistical means, conclusion, suggestions and recommendations. At the end of this research paper, there are a bibliography, an abstract in Arabic, another abstract in Kurdish, a questionnaire, an analysis of the questionnaire (table).   2 I.   Introduction: Lesson planning is a special skill that is learned in much the same way as other skills. Teachers may retrieve lesson plans from others and adapt them to their needs, but when they acquire the skill, they will develop their own lesson plans. When the teacher is able to create his/her own lesson plans, it means he/she has taken a giant step toward owning the content he/she teaches and the methods he/she uses, and that is a good thing. Acquiring this skill is far more valuable than being able to use lesson plans developed by others. It takes thinking and practice to hone this skill, and it will not happen overnight, but it is a skill that will help to define a person as a teacher. Knowing how to  is far more important than knowing about   when it comes to lesson plans, and is one of the important markers along the way to becoming a professional teacher. It is also in keeping with a central theme of the fact that the teacher should learn to plan lessons in more than one way. Regardless of the form or template, there are fundamental components of all lesson plans that teachers should learn to write, revise, and improve. Perfect practice makes perfect   is at the core of learning this skill. (  http://www.adprima.com/wlo5.htm  ) According to the viewpoint mentioned above, teachers learn lesson planning with practice, but Widdowson (1990:64-5) suggests that the teacher should be given both pre-service and in-service training in preparation and lesson plan procedures as follows: Pre-service preparation initiates the prospective teacher into the basics of professional activity which are, in general, of two kinds. First, there are those which relate to the craft of classroom management and the routine procedures for organizing class activity, the tricks of pedagogic trade. The second basic element of initiation is that which relates newcomers to their fellow teachers, a process of acculturation whereby they become members of the group. This too inclines them to accept a set of conventional attitudes and practices. In view of these two situations, it seems clear that pre-service or initial preparation needs to pay particular attention to training. As mentioned above, teachers not only take pre-service courses but they also get in-service education ranging from award-bearing year-long courses to the relatively informal meetings of teacher groups on a self   –  help basis. In this way, the courses prepare teachers for the responsibility of their own continuing professional education. Experienced teachers and those receiving necessary training are expected to draw up long term and daily plans well. This is simply because adequately prepared teachers expect more. When teachers and institutions hold high expectations for themselves, they make extra efforts, and consequently they expect their students to perform well. (http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/7princip.htm)  II.   Description of preparation and lesson plan:  The first paragraph of this section describes lesson preparation, while the last two paragraphs define lesson planning.   When the teacher prepares lessons, some relevant questions may occur to him/her. Firstly, what should happen in the lives of those the teacher teaches as a result of this lesson? What should the students feel while the teacher is teaching this lesson? What should they feel after the lesson? Secondly, what specific principles should be taught? The principles that should be taught can be the following: Often a lesson contains more material than the teacher can teach, so he/she should not feel pressured to complete the entire lesson. The teacher should select the material best suited for his/her class first and if there is time left he/she can do the others. The other principle is that the teacher's lesson is not the only time students learn about the subject.   Thirdly, how should these principles be taught? Teachers should teach these principles by getting to know those they teach and by adopting different methods of teaching such as discussions, lectures, demonstrations, dramatization, memorization, comparison, likening, brainstorming, and games and by using visual aids. . ( http://www.about.com/aa_teacher_training_l.htm )   3 Singh (2008:28) defines lesson planning as follows: Teaching is organized in three phases: pre-active, interactive and post-active phase of teaching. Before entering into the classroom whatever activities a teacher plans may be put in a pre-active phase of teaching. The lesson planning is virtually the pre-active phase of teaching. Bossing presents another definition stating that lesson plan is the title given to a statement of the achievements to be realized and the specific meaning by which these are to be attained as a result of the activities engaged during the period (Cited in Singh, 2008:28). According to (http.//www.pgceguide.com) planning is the process of deciding what the teacher will teach and how he/she will teach it. Planning can be long term covering a term or year, medium term covering a unit or half term, weekly or daily in which the teacher sets out in detail his/her plans for a lesson. A lesson plan can also be defined as a teacher's detailed description of the course of instruction for an individual lesson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/lessonplan). A daily lesson plan is developed by a teacher to guide class instruction. The detail of the plan will vary depending on the preference of the teacher, subject being covered, and the need and/or curiosity of the students. There may be requirements mandated by the school system regarding the plan. In addition to those mentioned above, the lesson plan correlates with the teacher's philosophy of education, which is what the teacher feels is the purpose of educating the students (ibid). III.   Objectives of Preparation and Lesson Plan: The first thing a teacher does is creating an objective, a statement of purpose for the whole lesson. An objective statement itself should answer what students will be able to do by the end of the lesson. Each objective must begin with a verb that states the action to be taken to show accomplishment because verbs state how to demonstrate if accomplishment has taken place or not. The objective drives the whole lesson, it is the reason the lesson exists. Care is taken when creating the objective for each day’s lesson, as it will determine the activities the students engage in. The teacher also ensures that lesson plan goals are compatible with the developmental level of the students. Teachers ensure as well that their students' achievement expectations are reasonable.   (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Almost all lesson plans developed by teachers contain student learning objectives, instructional procedures, the required materials, and some written description of how the students will be evaluated. The purpose behind making preparation and lesson plan is to carry out the following. Firstly, the teacher should think of    a lesson plan as a way of communicating, and without doubt, effective communication skills are fundamental to all teaching. It's simple; effective lesson plans communicate, ineffective ones do not. Secondly, lesson plans help new or inexperienced teachers organize content, materials, and methods. Like most skills, teachers will get better at it the more they do it and think of ways of improving their planning and teaching based on feedback from their students, students' parents, and other teachers. Thirdly, developing their own lesson plans helps teachers own the subject matter content they are teaching and that is central to everything good teachers do.   Learning to write good lesson plans is a skill that will serve you well as a teacher. If you're really serious, become proficient in writing effective learning objectives. All lesson plans begin, or should begin with an objective. ( http://www.adprima.com/wlo5.htm ) In addition to those mentioned above, the lesson plan accomplishes both content objectives and language objectives. Content objectives are created from district and state content standards, but rather than being global, as some standards are, they are specific to the lesson content being taught. Language objectives are intended to guide lesson design and implementation so that English learners develop English proficiency and vocabulary knowledge concurrently with subject matter understandings. As teachers begin to think about the importance of including content and language objectives for each and every lesson, their   4 selection of instructional materials, techniques, and activities is more deliberate and purposeful. It becomes evident that the texts that are appropriate for many native English speakers may not be suitable for students acquiring English-the content and text must be adapted for English learners' comprehensibility and accessibility. (Vogt and Echevarria, 2007: v and vi) IV.   Preparation and Lesson Plan Features: This part deals with basic characteristics that preparation and lesson planning have. These features can be classified into two categories: preparation features and lesson plan features.   1.   Features of Preparation:   Vogt and Echevarria (2007:7-14) state that the preparation component includes the following features: a. Content objectives:  How will the teacher meet the needs of all learners so that they can achieve grade- level standards? Once teachers determine students’ academic and language proficiency  levels, they can begin designing lessons that fulfil those needs. Besides language objectives, content objectives must guide the selection of appropriate and meaningful activities; activities that provide English learners with varied opportunities to practice and apply content knowledge. So, all students work towards the same objectives, but in different ways, in different grouping configurations and perhaps with different texts and instructional materials. Clearly written and stated content objectives are needed to provide a road map for both students and teachers, regardless of group assignment or instructional materials. During and at the end of each lesson, when the content objectives are assessed, teachers can determine who has met them and who has not. Further appropriate differentiated instruction can be provided as needed. For example, when the teacher teaches eighth-grade students in a basic school the present simple and the present continuous, how does he or she state the content objectives? The content objectives may be stated as follows: the students will be able to give examples for these two tenses and examples from real life. Furthermore, the students will be able to compare these two tenses in terms of both form and use, or they will be able to give the reason(s) why we use the present simple in some cases and present continuous in others. b. Language objectives: How will the teacher plan for multilevel responses according to student’s English proficiency levels? Teachers make sure that students can use English in a practising comfortable, but challenging, classroom environment. This can be achieved through using the four language skills: listening, reading (receptive), speaking and writing (expressive). Teachers must maintain high, yet reasonable expectations for student output based on the lesson’s content and language objectives. Some students may be able to demonstrate their understanding through pantomime or illustration, while others can respond to questions and/or written paragraphs. With regard to language objectives, students will be able to use such expressions as  I don’t understand  ., Would you please explain that to me?, Would you please model that for me?, and  Would you please demonstrate that for me?  (Vogt and Echevarria, 2007: v and vi). This is to solicit support from the teacher or other students. They must also be able to orally paraphrase the key concepts about any topic they study.     5 c.   Taking the s tudent’s   age   and   background into account : How does the teacher plan appropriate grade-level instruction for their English learners if they do not have the requisite knowledge to understand what is being taught? Effective teachers know that it is inappropriate to ignore grade-level content standards when teaching English learners. Many students lack specific content knowledge due to interrupted or non existent schooling experiences in their schools , or to mismatches in the English learner’s school experience and the grade-level expectations of their new schools. Other students join new schools with comprehensive schooling experiences in the schools they attended previously, so their primary goal is to learn English and transfer what they know to their new classroom. Therefore, teachers learn to teach grade-level standards and objectives, while adapting and adjusting instruction for student’s particular needs. Adaptations to texts and content are appropriate as long as expectations for grade-level content mastery for all students remain high. d. Supplementary materials:  How can the teachers clarify concepts for struggling students? How can the teacher present concepts in a way that is relevant and meaningful? Students can demonstrate new knowledge in different ways in one classroom. English learners may need additional or different opportunities to use supplementary materials. These include a range of such materials as hands-on manipulatives, illustrations, graphic organizers, adapted texts, photographs and electronic resources. These materials can be used to enhance student understanding. e. Adaptation of content:  How does the teacher make the content material accessible for all students? One of the challenges that teachers face is the number of proficiency levels in one classroom, so the text taught may be suitable for some students, but difficult for others. While it may not be necessary to adapt the content for all students, English learners benefit from partially completed graphic organizers, partially filled in outlines, highlighted texts (e.g.: topic sentences, key vocabulary and key concepts), marginal notes and re-written adapted texts. Many publishers include adapted texts and summaries with their grade-level text books for this purpose. These make content learning much more accessible for English learners. Content standards should not be watered down in adapted text books. f. Meaningful activities : How will the teacher organize his or her classroom for a variety of meaningful activities to occur at once? Differentiated instruction means preparing for a variety of grouping configurations and activities to occur at one time. Students may be working independently, in cooperative groups or with the teacher based on assessed needs. Some students may need more modelling and examples others will be ready to strike out on their own. Students should satisfy both the language objectives and content objects. They may practise in different ways, but all learn the same content information. Lado (1964:56-60) adds two more features to preparation component stating that although principles remain constant in all language teaching, specific conditions and variables must be considered when programming any teaching. The chief conditions and variables that must be faced are related to the student, the materials and equipment, the teacher, and the
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