Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Adapting American NIE lesson plans to the needs of Asian students

There's a lot of useful and interesting information for Asian business people and business students here.

This New York Times lesson plan sets a great example, but 1) it is not for second language students, and 2) the article is very, very long, so the lesson plan needs to be adapted a bit for Asian audiences.

The format used to describe lessons could save a lot of time in daily lesson preparation. The headings used include: grades, subjects, overview, suggested time allowance, objectives, resource/materials, activities/procedures, further questions for discussion, evaluation/assessment, vocabulary, extension activities, interdisciplinary connections, and academic content standards.

Some simplification might be useful here. There are too many sections. What a teacher typically wants are rough guidelines to improvise within. Many sections have useless information. Is mentioning the need for pencils or pens in a "resources/materials" section really necessary? The "evaluation/assessment" section doesn't provide any useful information either.

Maybe multi-leveled lesson plans with the basic ideas on top and details hidden below for possible future study if time permits might be more effective. "Information hiding" is an idea borrowed from computer programming where it is used to manage complexity.

The warm-up involves classifying products by market segment. This is a great extensible idea that could be applied to different markets in future lessons. Why do the authors avoid useful marketing terminology like "market segments"?

The strategy of dividing the article into sections and assigning each section to a group (activities/procedures, section 3) is even more necessary for second language learners who really need to be helped with the extreme length of the article.

The discussion questions are great, but it would be clearer if they they were simply listed under a section number heading. The very concrete calculations in each "research task" are a great way of applying the ideas and making the abstract ideas in the article concrete.

This kind of American "Newspapers In English" (NIE) type of site provides lesson plans for younger learners in K-12 schools. The ideas in high school lesson plans can often be adapted for adult or university student audiences in Asia.

Overall, there's a lot to learn here for teachers in Asia preparing newspaper-based lessons for older second language learners.

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