Under the microscope…
ESL Library recently received a request from one of our subscribers to explain what the concepts macro and micro lesson planning meant. To be honest, it was the first time I’d come across these terms. After a bit of research, I realized both methods of lesson planning were indeed familiar to me because I’d put them into practice many times during my teaching career. Let’s look at macro and micro lesson planning in more detail.
Macro Lesson Planning
The term macro comes from Greek makros meaning “long, large”. For teachers, macro lesson planning means coming up with the curriculum for the semester/month/year/etc. Not all teachers feel they are responsible for this as many schools have set curriculums and/or textbooks determined by the academic coordinator. However, even in these cases, teachers may be called upon to devise a curriculum for a new class, modify an older curriculum, or map out themes to match the target lessons within the curriculum.
At my old school, for instance, I had the chance to develop the curriculum for a TOEIC Intermediate and a TOEFL Advanced class when they were first introduced at our school. I’ve also modified older curricula (or curriculums, if you prefer—both are acceptable) for various levels because of students’ changing needs. And finally, my old school kindly granted the teachers one day a month of paid prep time/new student intake, where we’d decide on the themes that we’d be using for our class to ensure there wasn’t too much overlap with other classes. We did have a set curriculum in terms of grammar points, but themes and supplementary materials were up to us. Doing a bit of planning before the semester started ensured that we stayed organized and kept the students’ interest throughout the semester.
Another benefit of macro lesson planning is that teachers can share the overall goals of the course with their students on the first day, and they can reiterate those goals as the semester progresses. Students often lose sight of the big picture and get discouraged with their English level, and having clear goals that they see themselves reaching helps prevent this.
Micro Lesson Planning
The term micro comes from the Greek mikros meaning “small, little”. In the ELT industry, micro lesson planning refers to planning one specific lesson based on one target (e.g., the simple past). It involves choosing a topic or grammar point and building a full lesson to complement it. A typical lesson plan involves a warm-up activity, which introduces the topic or elicits the grammar naturally, followed by an explanation/lesson of the point to be covered. Next, teachers devise a few activities that allow students to practice the target point, preferably through a mix of skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing). Finally, teachers should plan a brief wrap-up activity that brings the lesson to a close. This could be as simple as planning to ask students to share their answers from the final activity as a class.
Some benefits of micro lesson planning include classes that runs smoothly and students who don’t get bored. Lesson planning ensures that you’ll be prepared for every class and that you’ll have a variety of activities on hand for whatever situation may arise (well, the majority of situations…I’m sure we’ve all had those classes where an activity we thought would rock ends up as an epic fail).
For more information on micro lesson planning, check out How to Make a Lesson Plan, a blog post I wrote last year, where I emphasized the importance of planning fun, interesting fillers so that students stay engaged. I also provided links in that post to many examples of activities you can use for warm-ups, main activities, fillers, homework, etc. There is also a good template for a typical lesson plan at .docstoc.
Can anyone think of other benefits of macro or micro lesson planning? Does anyone have a different definition of these terms? Let us know below.