The Perfect Lesson Plan (but not really) – A sample to help you plan your own lessons

Versão em português – LESSON PLAN SAMPLE 1_português

Is there such a thing as the perfect lesson plan? I challenge you to think about that. Have you ever delivered a lesson that felt like you rocked big time?

The way I see it, there are no perfect lesson plans. Some might feel perfect to you or some of your students – but not all of them (lessons and students). That doesn’t mean we can’t strive for “perfection” (or at least excellence) as a goal. Obviously, given the lack of time and resources as well as students’ varying degrees of motivation, interests, and needs, most of the time we need simply get the job done as effectively as we can. That’s exactly why I offer here a template that might be at least very good or better than that

I designed this lesson plan (click here to get it) about a generic topic that can be understood by everyone, and applied by science, biology, geography, methodology, physics, chemistry, and writing teachers. Basically, any teacher can profit from this template and adapt according to their students’ topics and needs. I must say it was fun – and a lot of hard work – trying to plan a lesson about the Scientific Method. Yes, that’s right! That’s what the lesson is about.

Even if science is something you have no interest in, you should take a look and see how each section of my lesson plan flows into the next. I’ve tried to use as much from neuroscience as I could, and I’m happy with the result. Can’t remember the tips I gave you about neuroscience? Check about my first and second posts about it!

In this lesson plan, you’ll find the three stages of the PPP framework, different patterns of interaction, active retrieval and revision, brain breaks, Task-based learning (pre-task, while-task, and post-task), and suggestions for homework. It is not my intention to go through these terms right now as I want you to analyze the lesson plan regardless if you’re an experienced or a novice teacher. In future posts, I’ll go back to this lesson plan and analyze each section individually, as well as get into detail about this terminology.

What I do want you to do is to answer these questions and give me some feedback. If you do so, become a follower of my blog, and share my lesson plan, I’ll offer to plan one of your lessons for free! How about that? I’ll select the 3 first followers who leave a comment here. Also, if you are an ESL/EFL teacher, check out my American English File extra activities post.


1) What grade (1-great, 2-good, 3-needs improvement) would you give my lesson plan?

2) What are some of the best parts of this lesson, and some of the parts you would change?

3) Can you see yourself adapting this lesson plan to use it with your students?

4) Is the lesson plan something your students might enjoy?

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

You might want to access my latest lesson plan published by National Geographic Learning’ website. Just click on the link below the picture

Extra Activities for Oxford’s American English File 2nd Edition

Hello, dear English teachers!

I’d like to share the entire planning I did for an immersion course in January this year. The course was given to 4 groups at the language center of UniEvangélica. I designed the activity plans to substitute or complement at least one activity in every lesson, and also integrated some project-based learning concepts. Unfortunately, I do not have all the units of each book (just the second half, I’m afraid) and Book 3 planned because of the groups that were formed on that particular occasion. The good news is that I will have the planning for the other units and books by the end of this year, and, naturally, I’ll share it with you.

As you’ll realize while going through my suggestions, this planning took me a lot of time and effort, and I’d really appreciate it if you could give me some feedback here and help me promote my blog. My objective is to reach many teachers out there who may not have access to professional development or materials and insights in order to help them and, consequently, help their students. Your comments will certainly be of great help to me, and I’ll be able to make even better lesson plans as well as share them with you in the future. Here’s my last lesson plan about speaking languages in public.

Also, keep in mind that these activities are meant to take students a little away from the book for some minutes and still work with the language they’re supposed to. You can always go back to the book when needed. As a matter of fact, books are highly adaptable when we consider students’ strengths, weaknesses, interests, and needs. You should definitely read my post about the Maintain-Alter-Discard (MAD) Principles here.

And here’s the link to a Google Drive  with the Teacher’s notes and the materials you’ll need to use in class. One or two activities might be missing because I photocopied and left them in the course I taught. If you think they’re absolutely necessary for you to teach your students, please let me know and I’ll do my best to find a way to send them to you through my blog.


Have a great weekend!

Neuroscience of Learning/Second Language Acquisition – Part 2 – Neurociência da Aprendizagem/Aquisição de Segunda Língua – Parte 2

Neurociência da Aprendizagem_parte2 – texto em português


Ok, let’s go on with the learning tips from our new favorite subject: Neuroscience! It’s worth stressing that the claims contained in this post have been tested all over the world and, thus, are science-based, which means they shouldn’t be neglected. I do not wish to say that some of our traditional practices in the classroom must be completely discarded, I wish only to defend the idea that the teacher’s praxis must be based on 3 extremely important elements: 1) research-based techniques; 2) relationship with students (rapport); 3) reflection on teaching.

Therefore, the next 5 tips, as well as the ones from the last post about Neuroscience, will become the base for effective lesson planning, and, most importantly, student-centered classes. Before we continue, I’d like to address some terms:

a) Elicitation: Technique used to obtain the answers from students in an active way. It consists of stimulation, question (guidance), and reformulation. Example: In the geography class, the teacher shows a picture (stimulus) of a Brazilian biome and asks: “What kind of landscape is this?” (question/guidance). The students try to answer with the words: “forest”, “savannah”. The teacher may give more stimuli or ask more questions so that students realize that they have to change their answer (reformulation). This process occurs until the answer the teacher is looking for is obtained from the students. Some might know the word “biome”. Observe that at no point did the teacher say the answer, he only guided the discovery by the students.

b) Insight: connection, sudden understanding of something, idea to solve a problem. It occurs when our brains “connect” the dots and we see the relation between two or more ideas.

c) Cognition: knowledge, thinking. Knowledge acquisition process.

Now, let’s get down to business.

1. Always use the elicitation technique to check students’ previous knowledge and make them think critically about the topic. Neuroscience tells us that the pleasure of reaching a conclusion on our own (of having insights, with the release of serotonin, which gives us this pleasure feeling) creates stronger connections. Start with a stimulus (visual, auditory or bodily) and lead students to guided discovery whenever possible. What we want from the students is that eureka factor or aha moment!

Great article about pros and cons of eliciting:

For the eureka factor and aha moment, watch this short TED talk:

2. When the teacher asks: “Did you understand?”, it is very likely that those who didn’t won’t expose themselves, thus, the answer of most will be “YES”. Instead of checking comprehension with questions like that, use concept checking questions (CCQs). It also promotes “active recall”, which helps to consolidate memory.

Example: The physics teacher explained (or elicited from the students) the formula Force of Gravity = Mass X Acceleration and the concepts of each term. Rather than asking: “Did you understand what Force of Gravity is?”, she asks: “Well, how can we define Force of Gravity, how can we calculate it?”.

Read this excellent article on CCQs:

Great video about eliciting and CCQs:

3. The same way children benefit from playing, teenage and adult brains also need pauses. Neuroscience has already demonstrated that our short-term memory storage capacity limits itself to 15-20 seconds of intake and that we can only save 7 “chunks” of information (numbers, letters, images) at a time. So, mini breaks of 3-5 minutes every 15-minute block of teaching are effective ways to ensure more learning and higher retention in the classroom.

This website describes the types of memory and how they work:

This link explains and gives brain breaks ideas:

4. Learning a second language improves cognition, regardless of age. Studies show improvement in logical thinking (great for math, for example), executive function of the brain (which helps with planning and decision making power), and it delays by an up to 5 years the initial symptoms of brain degenerative diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer. 

Watch this TED talk about the benefits of being bilingual:

Check out this infographic:

5. Comparing students’ performance to encourage them to get better is not the best motivation tool. The concept of “growth mindset” is what most contributes to individual growth, that is, comparing current performance versus previous performance of a student and complimenting progress, with feedback and more incentives (constructive criticism) is what really works.

Watch this TED about grit and growth mindset: Dê

Take a look at Carol Dweck’s work:

Very well! Now you already have 10 awesome tips on how to improve your teaching practice based on what Neuroscience has discovered. My next post will provide you with a lesson plan model (framework) taking into account all these concepts!

Did you like these new tools? Leave a comment and share my blog with you student, teacher and educator friends!

Great week and good classes!

Are there times we shouldn’t speak a foreign language in public? An inspirational lesson plan for your students

Lesson_Languages_B2Given the recent discussion I had with my peers on Facebook about Dilma’s attempt to speak French on TV (check out the BrELT group on Facebook if you work with ELT), I’ve decided to share this lesson plan with you guys. I’m sharing a dropbox link:

There are two ppt lessons and a video (with Obama, Hollande and Dilma speaking languages) that can be used for both. These two lessons should be done with CEFR-B1 and CEFR-B2 groups (you can even try with C1 groups as well). The first version is a revision of modal verbs and advice and the second is about conditionals.

PS: they were designed to be inspirational and critical thinking-based lessons to arouse discussion, and make students think of themselves as language speakers in the world. That’s why the grammar part is not the focus, however, you can expand it or adapt whichever way makes more sense to you and your groups.

Let me know if you liked them, and, if the answer is YES, tell me if you want me to plan one for A1/A2 levels.

LESSON PLAN 1 – B1 (modals can, should, must and advice)
Intended Learning Outcome: By the end of the class, students should be able to produce a guide containing advice to public speakers/leaders on how to use foreign languages in public events

SLIDE 1: Ss write their two situations on a piece of paper and share in pairs. Allow 3 minutes for discussion.

SLIDE 2: Instruct Ss to discuss the two claims with: I totally agree, I don’t agree completely, I totally disagree. Vary the patter of interaction (trios or groups). 5 minutes should suffice. Then, check the whole class, and the percentages of: I totally agree, I don’t agree completely, I totally disagree for each claim

SLIDE 3: Make trios with one of each answer (if possible) from the previous exercise. One S who totally agrees, another who partially agrees and the last who totally disagrees. Have them discuss the new sentences and write their opinions in post-its. The idea is that they should reach a consensus in 5-7 minutes and have only three opinions in the group (one for each sentence). However, if it’s impossible to reach a consensus, tell them it’s OK to have more than three opinions in the group (the maximum will be 9 if each S has a different opinion about each sentence). Ss attach their post-its on the wall and everyone walks around the class to check everyone’s opinion. Tell them to draw a checkmark on the post-its they most agree with and select the most popular opinion at the end.

SLIDE 4: Follow the title of the slide (suggested pattern of interaction: pairwork). This is the perfect opportunity to check understanding and add more exercises with the modal verbs.

SLIDE 5: Play the video you can find on dropbox and pause between parts 1, 2, and 3, allowing Ss to share their feelings about each part. Open for discussion and check who students criticize more. This is a great opportunity to remind your Ss that they can try to speak English in any situation (if you agree with that, of course).

SLIDE 6 and SLIDE 7: These slides are printable. Divide your class into two large groups, and each group gets either Slide 6 or Slide 7. They have to complete the sentences (they can write on the back of the card). Ask Ss to stand up and come to the center of the classroom facing one another from the other group. Choose a row of students to walk at your signal. They should either go one step left or one step right when you signal (clap, turn off the light, stop the music, etc.) The idea is that they’ll discuss their answers for 1 or two minutes with someone and then move to the side to discuss with another student. At the end, ask if they had similar sentences, and collect a few examples.

SLIDE 8: Follow the instruction (suggested pattern of interaction: groups of 4).

LESSON PLAN 2 – B2 (conditionals/if clauses)
Intended Learning Outcome: By the end of the class, students should be able to discuss real, unreal/hypothetical and past situations regarding their learning experience as an English student.

SLIDE 1 and SLIDE 2: Follow the same steps of the previous lesson plan.

SLIDE 3: In trios, Ss will discuss the four situations, and write down what they would do (max. 1 line) in a piece of paper. Ss fold their papers and T collects them, distributing them to other Ss, who will read and try to find out who wrote the answers. Allow Ss to stand up and look for the person who wrote the answer (if your classroom permits). Tell them to form pairs with the person the paper belongs to. Collect a few examples.

SLIDE 4: The new pairs discuss. This should be a simple and short activity (a lead-in activity to the video). Check the answers with the whole group.

SLIDE 5: Play the video you can find on dropbox and pause between parts 1, 2, and 3, allowing Ss to share their feelings about each part. Open for discussion and check who students criticize more. This is a great opportunity to remind your Ss that they can try to speak English in any situation (if you agree with that, of course).

SLIDE 6, SLIDE 7 and SLIDE 8: Follow the instructions (you can vary the pattern of interaction if you like) and check with the whole group. For SLIDE 8, tell them to grade the presidents in each category presented on the slide (from 0 to 10 or from F to A). Compare results with the whole group.

SLIDE 9 and SLIDE 10: These slides are printable. Divide the class into big groups and to half of the groups assign printable 1 (printable 2 to the other half) Tell everyone they have the same cards, even though the cards are slightly different. Allow Ss to discuss for about 5 minutes and monitor. See if the construction of the sentences will influence students’ opinion. Now, mix the groups. Make some Ss with printable 1 join a group with printable 2 and vice-versa. Tell them to share their opinions and see how long it takes for them to realize their sentences were different. To make it work better, when Ss change groups, don’t let them read from the card, ask them to use their memories. When they notice something is wrong, then tell them to read from their cards.

SLIDE 11: Follow the instructions and extend the debate. Make sure they use the conditionals at this stage.

Hope you liked it!

Neuroscience of Learning/Language Acquisition – Neurociência da Aprendizagem/Aquisição de Segunda Língua

Neurociência da Aprendizagem – texto em português

Last year I traveled all the way to Israel to meet Neuroscience expert Dr. Avi Karni at the University of Haifa. The reason? Quite simple: 1) my wife was going to present at a conference there; and 2) I had heard about Dr. Karni’s research on a TED talk given by Benny, the Irish Polyglot (check it out here:
Dr. Avi Karni

Imagine my excitement arriving on campus to interview Dr. Karni, who was kind enough to give me a few moments of his busy schedule. We talked about memory, second language acquisition and one of his papers that claimed there was no advantage for children in L2 acquisition when compared to adults! That goes against most teachers’ notion that there’s a “critical period”, as stated by Penfield and Roberts (1959) and popularized by Lenneberg (1967), in which humans can more easily acquire a second language. This period is childhood.

I then started to be even more interested in neuroscience and how we learn. I did a short online course with Dr. Brit Andreatta called Neuroscience of Learning and I designed my English Development Course around the framework of my new discoveries. Today, I just want to share a couple of findings and invite you to think about such an important subject for every teacher, student, and educator.

  1. The critical period hypothesis has been widely refuted in different contexts and by different authors. This means that adults are equally capable of learning (languages or anything else) when compared to kids. In fact, there’s robust evidence showing that they can perform better, given the proper conditions (we’ll talk about them later).

Start with this and move on to Dr. Karni’s text (last link of this post): Singleton, David; Lengyel, Zsolt, eds. (1995). The age factor in second language acquisition: a critical look at the critical period hypothesis. Clevedon [England]: Philadelphia.

  1. The way most of our traditional classes are designed is not so conducive to learning. Research shows that expositive classes, where a teacher talks most of the time and students only listen and take notes, is not good for learning. Varying types of exposure, resources, platforms and students’ participation is what works best.

Check out Sir Ken Robinson’s video on breaking some education paradigms:
And how to flip your classroom:

  1. Learning styles are highly controversial and there’s no hard evidence that they really exist. As mentioned above, it is best to explore the same subject/content using different methods and resources. 

Watch this TED talk to get started:

  1. Too much homework is bad for learning. The adequate amount of time that students should spend on homework should not pass 2 hours daily. As it turns out, being a human and interacting with other humans, mainly friends and family members, are pretty essential for people to develop social skills and rest their minds well enough for learning to happen. What does work is distributed practice or spaced repetition. and this will help you here.

        5. Sitting still is bad for kids’ learning. Every class should have quiet and playful moments. Sitting still for too many minutes, or even hours, goes against children’s nature of moving to learn.

The NY Times published and excellent article on it:

That’s it for now. On this link you’ll be able to find some of the papers I read, more references, and more useful links.

Now, challenge yourself to rethink how you teach using these first principles of neuroscience and let me know how it went!

Penfield, W. , and Roberts, L. , Speech and Brain-Mechanisms (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1959
Lenneberg, EH.Biological Foundations of Language. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1967)

Welcome! – Bem Vindo!

This is my first post after a long time away from blogging! Scary and exciting at the same time, which means it’s probably a good thing, according to a couple of friends’ posts on Facebook.

For those of you who don’t know, watch this cute animation I made:

Also, check out the about section:

A few important remarks:
1) The main objective of this blog is to share my experiences working with English Language Teaching for over a decade and, most recently, with education and linguistics. I also wish to share my journey as a language student, a university student, and a researcher;
2) I believe anyone can benefit from this blog, including those who don’t work as language teachers. If you’re a teacher, a school manager/coordinator/director, a student or an educator, regardless of your area, I want you to follow me and spread the word in the world;
3) I intend to share a Lesson Plan once a week. If you want me to help you with a lesson plan in your area, send me the info and I’ll try to help you!
4) Every post will be written in both English and Portuguese so that I can reach my Brazilian peers who work in different areas;
5) Have fun and comment on anything you like or dislike!

Este é o meu primeiro post depois de muito tempo sem blogar! Assustador e empolgante ao mesmo tempo, o que significa que isso seja uma boa ideia, de acordo com alguns posts de amigos no Facebook.

Para aqueles que não me conhecem, assistam essa animação bonitinha que eu criei:

Deem uma olhada na seção About também:

Algumas observações importantes:
1) O objetivo principal deste blog é compartilhar minhas experiências trabalhando com o Ensino de Língua Inglesa por mais de uma década e, mais recentemente, com educação e linguística. Também desejo compartilhar minha jornada como estudante de idiomas, estudante universitário e pesquisador;
2) Acredito que qualquer pessoa possa se beneficiar deste blog, inclusive aqueles que não trabalham como professoras de línguas. Se você é um(a) professor(a), um(a) administrador(a)/coordenador(a)/diretor(a), um(a) estudante ou educador(a), independentemente da sua área, eu quero que você me siga e espalhe a notícia pelo mundo;
3) Pretendo compartilhar um Plano de Aula por semana. Se você quiser minha ajuda com um plano de aula na sua área, pode me mandar as informações que vou tentar ajudar!;
4) Todo post será escrito tanto em inglês como em português para que alcance meus pares brasileiros que trabalham em áreas diferentes;
5) Divirta-se e comente sobre qualquer coisa que você goste ou não!