One of the ways the Plan Ceibal English programme is able to work is through the use of a specially-written lesson plan that allows the (generally non-English speaking) classroom teacher (CT) to follow what the remote teacher (RT, the English teacher) is teaching in Lesson A, and also that allows her to carry out the practice activities in the follow-up lessons B & C, when she is alone with the children.
As Jeremy Harmer mentioned after his visit and observation of a remote class:
The English lessons in Plan Ceibal look (as far as I can see) pretty much like most Young Learner English lessons. They include monsters and songs, basic grammatical patterns, the sort of vocabulary you'll find in most general English coursebooks, and scripts (with quite a lot of Spanish thrown in) to guide the distance teacher.
|Objectives slide from the Week 1 lesson plan|
The lesson plans are similar to the kind of lesson scripts you can find in some published course-books. They indicate (in some detail) what the teacher should do in each part of the lesson
There are actually two versions of each scripted lesson plan, one in English and one is Spanish. The Spanish version allows the classroom teacher to understand exactly what to expect to happen during the remote (class A) lesson and what they need to do to practise in the follow-up (classes B & C) lessons.
This seems to be working well. The survey of classroom teachers that was undertaken last year (650 out of a total of 985 CTs responded) showed that 65% of the CTs used the lesson plans almost always for classes B & C. 33% said they used them sometimes, and only 2-3% stated they never or almost never used them. It's also great to see that 98% of the CTs evaluated the digital materials of the programme positively.
The lesson plans were (and are still) being written by a team of writers based in Argentina, led by Cristina Banfi and Silvia Rettaroli, and it is thanks to their hard work and those of their colleagues that they are working so well.
You can learn more about how these materials were developed by reading the paper 'ELT through videoconferencing in primary schools in Uruguay: first steps' by Dario Banegas (2013), who was the former project manager on the programme. In this paper, he talks about the importance of the weekly cycle of coordination (between the CT & RT), the lessons A, B & C and the ongoing evaluation and adjustments. The lesson plans have also been written to tie in with the Uruguayan primary curriculum. As Banegas states:-
The authors (Banfi and Rettaroli, 2012) drew on curricular content to teach English and established curricular and procedural bridges with the Uruguayan primary school curriculum. The course authors justified the adopted approach on the necessity to encourage language use related to learners' experience of the world and their formal education trajectories. This led to developing lessons which responded to learners' interests and context.
In a future blog post, I'll be looking at one of these lesson plans in detail.