안녕하세요! I have been in Busan for exactly one week! It is crazy how fast time has flown. I’ve been soooo busy lesson planning. Eventually I will catch up and I am making it a goal not to bring work home with me. I have a few free periods each day so there is no reason for me to need to bring work home with me. I have an extra free period tomorrow because of an assembly, and in a couple weeks is Chuseok. My school has the entire week of Chuseok off because it is also the school’s birthday. Unfortunately, I don’t get to take the whole week off. I have to go to school Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. What’s nice is I won’t be the only one there, the Vice Principal will also be in school with me.
Anyways….I am rambling! My point is: I hope to catch up and get ahead with lesson planning in the next week or so. So, look out for many more backlogged blogs coming your way! On to the actual contents of this post!!!
Last Tuesday was the final day of orientation, and the most feared day: Lesson Demonstration Day! Part of EPIK Orientation includes a lesson demonstration. The purpose of the lesson demos isn’t to drive us crazy–as much as we all may think. The real purpose is so that everyone has some practice standing in front of a class before they are thrown into their schools and in front of a class of 20+ children. A number of new EPIK teachers have never taught before, so this lesson demo is a chance for them to get their “first class jitters” out of the way. If a lesson doesn’t go well EPIK will not send anyone home. So there’s no consequence for a poor lesson. The whole thing is just a chance to practice what we have learned and get some feedback from a teacher who has experience teaching in Korea.
Lesson demos were done in groups of 2-4 which are assigned to us. Thankfully, all the lesson demo topics are decided ahead of time and each group picks from those lessons. The lessons range from elementary grade 3 to high school. Most of the lessons are elementary.
It’s really nice that EPIK gives you something to go off of. Coming up with everything on your own in such a short period of time is difficult. We were also given photocopies from the English textbook our lesson came from. These photocopies honestly didn’t help us much because there isn’t a whole lot of text. My group did use the conversation from our text to create our own chant and dialogues.
The lesson should be designed for 40-50 minutes (depending on the level). However, it should be condensed down to 15 minutes for the actual demonstration. This means that when you reach an activity, you explain the rules but maybe only give the “students” (your classmates) a minute or less to complete the activity. You can also skip some things; for example if you are introducing 10 vocabulary words in your lesson just demonstrate introducing 2 or 3 and skip the rest.
Our Lesson Demo
I’ll be honest my group had a little big of a tough time in the beginning. It’s tough working with people that you’ve just met and who have varying levels and types of experience. In the end, we got to a point where we all just wanted the lesson to be good and to finish it on time. Our lesson demo ended up going really well with no mistakes or awkward pauses, and we received a lot of really nice comments from our lesson elevator (Bridget Maret), class teacher (Yumi), and peers.
Our lesson was for Elementary grade 3 and was titled “She has long straight hair”. In a last minute, spur of the moment decision, we decided to use the characters from the Harry Potter movies all throughout our lesson.
Everyone in my class did AMAZING! There wasn’t a single lesson where a group didn’t put in any effort or it was a mess (I heard some stories from other classes). I stole ideas from every lesson and wrote them in my notebook for later!! Everyone in my class is going to be an amazing English teacher here!!!
Lesson Demo Tips
Here are some tips that I have compiled from different EPIK Lesson Demo evaluators and from my experience:
1. Remember to use this as an opportunity to gather ideas, activities, themes, and strategies from your classmates.
Great teachers are also great at stealing others ideas and adapting them.
2. use this as an opportunity to get your ‘first class jitters’ out of the way
As as I said earlier, some new EPIK teachers have never stood in front of a class as a teacher before. This experience will get them 15 minutes of experience. Hey, it’s better than nothing!!
3. Talk slow!
This is the piece of advice that everyone in my class received. We all spoke too fast. And this is for a variety of reasons: not used to speaking slow, feeling rushed because you only have 15 minutes for a 45 minute lesson, talking to native English speakers who can understand fast speech so you don’t get any confused faces look at you, just forgetting to continue speaking slow.
Remember, real Korean students won’t be able to speak English well. You must speak slowly and enunciate important words in your sentences
4. Interact with students
During an activity (even if it is condensed to 1 minute), go to a “student’s” seat and interact with them. Maybe someone is whispering to a neighbor and needs to be refocused, or pretend that they need some help with the activity.
5. Move around the room
This goes with the last one. In a real classroom setting, moving your teacher presence around the room helps control the entire group. I never had to do this when I was student teaching because I didn’t have a large classroom or more than 10 students. I have done this during my first week here teaching, and just as I step into the row of desks I feel the entire class quieting and focusing back on me. It really helps!
6. Concept checking & CCQ’s
One thing the EPIK lecturers really stressed during orientation was NOT asking students “do you understand” after giving instructions or directions. Even if students don’t understand they will just nod their heads at you anyway.
Instead, invite students up to the front or to the middle of the class to model the activity. Another option are CCQ’s (concept checking questions). These are questions which ask specific questions about the directions and having the students explain the activity.
Transitions are used to get students attention back after doing an activity. During activities the students are usually talking loud and eventually they may get off task. It’s hard to get the attention of 20+ students. So, using a transition technique is extremely useful and successful at quieting the class and getting them to focus back on you. Examples: clapping a pattern, a short chant with a reply, flicking the lights, or quiet talking.
During the lesson demo you don’t need to teach the transition to your “class”. We learned so many during orientation that everyone already knew how to respond to each transition that was initiated.
8. Clear directions & Simple and clear speech
These go together. Limit the number of words in your sentences. Absolute beginners, especially in elementary, can only handle one or two words per direction. Keep vocabulary simple so that your activity directions are easy to understand.
Remember KISSS: Keep It Short, Simple, and Slow.
9. Body language
This is especially important with the elementary and middle school lessons. Show what you are talking about. If your sentence is “I read the book”, pretend you are reading a book. If you are teaching the word curly, pretend to make curly hair or play with your own curly hair.
10. Lesson is structured in a logical order
Start off with a short review of what was “learned last class”, then expand a little more, then a little more, then a little more, and close with a review. Each part of your lesson should build on the previous part, connect, and be in a logical order.
11. Make sure Your activities relate to the lesson topic
If you are doing a lecture about directions, don’t have an activity where the students are pretending to be ordering food in a restaurant. Also, if you plan on playing any music, make sure the lyrics relate to the vocabulary, key phrases, or topic in some way.
12. Know your audience
Remember that you’re teaching “students”: Know who your real audience is supposed to be.
i.e.: Don’t use Pokemon photos for a high school lesson.
13. Dress the Part
Our lesson demos were the same day as the meeting with our MOE/POE and closing ceremony, so most people were dressed up. Boys in shirt and tie. Girls in skirts and dresses or dress pants. I definitely suggest dressing like a teacher. It also puts you more in the mindset.
After the Lesson Demo
After our 15 minute lesson demo, we had 5 minutes to receive critiques from one of the EPIK lecturer’s, ours was Bridget Maret. She has taught in Korea for a few years and was our lecturer for our class on Classroom Management. Her lecture was amazinggggg. She has hilarious stories to tell about teaching in Korea that are full of lessons for new teachers in Korea.
We also had two sessions of “speed dating” discussion; one in the middle of the day about the first half of the presentations, and one at the end of the day about the second half. We discussed things like teacher talk, directions, interaction, transitions, flow, structure, and if the lesson was realistic for it’s age group (basically the stuff I just talked about above).
Once all the groups finished presenting and we completed the final speed dating discussion, we put our our feedback forms for each group. Reading the feedback was really informative. Everyone made really good points about where our lesson was lacking, and I have definitely taken everything said into consideration for my actual Korean classroom and lessons.
We also voted for which lesson was our favorite. I still can’t believe it, but our group won! I’m so happy that everyone loved our lesson. We really worked hard on it though all the disagreements and tension, trying to make it the perfect lesson. It wasn’t perfect by anyway means, but we were really pleased with it. Thank you to everyone that voted! *hugs*
We were gifted a bag of snacks which we brought on the bus the following day to share with our Busan buddies on our 3.5+ hour journey to our new home. I hope everyone enjoyed trying some of Korea’s unique snacks! There were some really interesting things in here. Kicking myself because I did not take photos of anything! >.<
OK! That is all I have to say about lesson planning! I guess the final thing I would say is: Moral of the story, make a good lesson. Don’t half ass it, but don’t get TOO crazy about it!
Also! You don’t need any physical activities (worksheets, handouts, games involving paper print outs). They take up so much prep time, and waiting to use the printer is a pain. We didn’t use paper handouts of any kind and it really made everything easier.