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RAALP tutors come from a variety of backgrounds, and not everyone has prior experience as an educator. If you are familiar with lesson planning, that’s great! If this is your first time in an educator role, welcome. No matter your skill level, working individually with an adult literacy student is a unique scenario and it will take some time before you feel proficient. Even then, you’ll always be finding new ways to improve your approach. In this module, we will give you
some tools to reach this proficiency. Think of them as training wheels as you get the hang of tutoring and build trust with your student.
In this module, we’ll be covering the following topics:
Before we get started, though, I want you to make a lesson plan for your first one-hour lesson with your student. I know what you may be saying: “we haven’t learned how to do that!” Yes--and that’s the point. I want you to have a starting point, so while you go through this module, you can refer to this plan to see what you might do differently based on what you’re learning.
You can take as much time as you want, but give yourself at least 10 minutes to give an honest effort to this lesson plan. Pause this video, and make your lesson plan. When you’re done, press play to move on to the next module. Have fun and don’t worry about getting it wrong--you can’t!
Lesson Plan Basics:
As we’ve covered in previous modules, it takes a lot of brain power to learn how to read, write, and speak. Not only that, but there’s so much going on in everyone’s life--both yours, and the students’. Because of this, the hour you spend in tutoring should be straightforward and reasonably predictable. Cut down on the things taking yours and your student’s attention, and you can both focus on the skill or strategy of that day.
Think of your lesson plan like a zen garden: creating spaciousness with a curated structure, and featuring just one or two elements that make an impact.
It’s important to have a measurable objective in mind, so you can create your plan to achieve this objective and you can gauge the effectiveness of the plan based on whether this objective was met.
To make an objective, follow these four steps:
1. Identify the noun, or thing you want students to learn
The 4 Cs.
We recommend structuring your lesson around the four-phase learning cycle we covered in our cognitive development module, known as the four Cs. Let’s go over them again:
Ok, so are you ready for concrete practice?
So far in this module, we’ve talked about these concepts: the importance of a simple and consistent structure, clear objectives, and the use of the “Four C” model.
Take a look at the lesson plan you made at the beginning and practice these concepts. Start by asking yourself these questions:
Send us a picture or document of the two lesson plans to show us how they changed.
Pause the video to work on this, and then press play when you’re ready to move on.
Adapting Lessons to Student Needs
Now you’ve made your lesson plan, let me ask you a question you may have already asked yourself: who is this plan for?
Of course, you don’t have a student so it can’t be for anyone, but I want you to at least imagine the student who would benefit most from your lesson: What’s their skill level? What are their needs? What are their interests?
Pause and write down a profile of this imaginary student, then hit play when you’re done to keep going.
It’s important to know your student because that’s who you are planning for. As you get to know your student, you will be able to create plans that are more and more accurate to their needs, interests, and skill level.
But it takes time to get to know your student. So how can you be expected to respond to their needs, interests, and skill level right off the bat? You can’t. As with any relationship, it takes time. But here are a few tools that will help jumpstart your process:
We are required by the State to test all students using the Test for Adult Basic Education or TABE. This is a standardized test that gives a general perspective of your student’s level. Because standardized tests can be anxiety provoking, and the TABE’s focus isn’t adult literacy, you should see this assessment as a necessary but blunt instrument and it should only be your starting point.
As you can see from the chart, TABE test results correspond with several other types of scores: On the right side, there is the TABE score; then you have grade level, and then you have what is known as the NRS level--that stands for National Reporting System.
This is a tool to assess your students’ skill level in a more nuanced and responsive way. You can start with the assumption that your student is in the level defined by the TABE, and then use this tool to refine that assumption. At the end of each lesson, take a look at these categories and see which is most true for your student’s skill for that category.
So take a second to work this out, using your Learning Progression tool. Let’s say your student gets a 530 on their Language and a 550 on their Reading test. What is their NRS level?
Now look through the learner progression table and imagine a scenario where your student may have several levels at once:
For example, they may be able to analyze and order the information in a text but they struggle with reading it fluently.
Pause the video and spend a few minutes writing down this scenario, imagining an imaginary student who has multiple skill levels. Then determine how you could develop lesson plans to support their advanced skills while also growing their newer skills?
Last but definitely not least, these scores and numbers don’t mean a lot if you can’t apply them to your student’s life. As such, you’ve got to ask the student where they want to focus. Your student is the expert in their own lives, and although they may not use the language of “NRS levels,” they can tell you what they want and need. This is an area when you want to be aware of the social emotional elements of your relationship: your student may not be prepared to open up to you right away. They will learn to trust you over time.
Nevertheless, we want you to use this tool from the outset. This Learner Plan prompts your student to identify personal and professional goals they want to accomplish through your work. Use this plan to break those goals into bite-sized lesson-plan objectives that can transform your students’ educational process.
Again, if they aren’t ready to answer some questions, let them open up to you over time. But we will use the information in this plan as data, to supplement the TABE levels. We want you to keep a learner plan and update it regularly with us--at least every six months, to measure how you are making progress toward your goals.
Practice it on yourself! What are your life goals? What are the things you want and need to learn? How would you translate that into one month, six month, and one-year objectives?
Long Term Planning
So you can make a lesson plan for a single session, and you can evaluate your student to make sure these lesson plans fit their needs and interests. But can you sustain this? We have included two tools to help you craft a long-term vision for your lesson plan.
The first one, shared with us from Victoria Henry at the UNM Taos adult literacy program, is a ready-made lesson framework. Not only does she provide several months of lessons, but she’s also created detailed lesson plans you can follow or adapt. Those are included in the resource folder.
Pause this video and take some time to read through those now.
I have stripped down Victoria’s framework, which you’ll find in the activity folder, so you can use it to craft a series of lessons that achieve long-term objectives. Try it now with the lesson plan you did earlier. I know this is working kind of backward from the way you’d be doing it here, but try to imagine a long-term goal that your lesson plan can play a role in achieving. What other skills and questions will you need to pose to ensure that goal is accomplished? How will you and your student culminate all the lessons to demonstrate the larger goal has been met?
Pause the video now to sketch your thoughts for this long-term goal into your plan.
Congratulations, this is the last module in your initial training; you are now ready to become a tutor. But this is not the end--only the beginning! You’re now playing a part in our program’s community. That comes with some expectations. We already talked about them in the intro, but let’s go over them again.
Before you go, it’s time for the last C of the Four Cs; Conclusions
Take ten minutes to write your reflections on the following questions:
And thank you!