Integrated units, or as they are often referred to, educational projects, are recommended as a form of planning which ensures that the four language skills and the four components are integrated and balanced in terms of the program’s objectives.
The development of an educational project involves three main steps that organize the teaching/learning of a field or fields of experience in a logical and congruent fashion. Essentially, these three steps are:
• select a field of experience or a combination of fields of experience,
• brainstorm, in a general way, the objectives to be attained, which will be derived from the program of studies, the main activities which will be carried out, and the learning resources needed in order to create the educational project;
• describe in a detailed way, the specific objectives and mini-tasks for each major activity,
• arrange the major activities in logical order; and
• plan daily lessons on the basis of the major activity sheets.
To make sure the procedure is clear, the following paragraphs will serve as a guide to the work sheets that are found in Appendix A.
To begin the process, first take the page entitled “Step One – Idea Sheet” found in Appendix A and select the field of experience or combination of fields of experience to be explored and fill in the Field(s) of Experience circle. Then begin the planning process by choosing the circle which you feel most comfortable with and brainstorm the elements needed to complete that circle. For example, if you feel more comfortable beginning with the program objectives then you start there by defining what objectives from the four components will be taught. In this circle the components are labelled in this fashion: e.c. = experience/ communication, c. = culture, l = language, and g.l.e. = general language education. Once this circle has been completed you move on to either the major activities circle which describes, in general terms, the main activities which will be carried out in the four language skills or the learning resources circle which describes the resources needed in order to be able to fulfill the needs of the educational project. Step One is completed when all four circles have been filled in. If you prefer, you may start by referring to Appendix B: Suggestions for Educational Projects to find ideas which may assist in stimulating the brainstorming process.
The second step involves taking each major activity listed on the brainstorming sheet and describing, on the page entitled “Step Two- Major Activity Sheet”, the specific objectives and mini-tasks required to complete each of the major activities. As the planning process is being carried out it is advisable to check off the language skills and components being covered by the mini-tasks as a means of ensuring a balance between the language skills and the four components. The language skills have been coded on the major activity sheet in the following manner: listening comprehension (L.C.). oral production (O.P.), reading comprehension (R.C.), and written production (W.P.). The four components have been coded in this way: experience/communication (e.c.), culture (c.), language (l.), and general language education (g.l.e.). in chronological order and numbered accordingly. Once they are in order, you can begin to develop the daily lesson plans following the suggested methodology or adopting a planning process which best suits your needs. What is most important, though, is that each lesson should include an introduction, a number of activities, including real-life tasks, and a conclusion to tie all aspects of the lesson together. This process will be explained further in the following section on daily lesson planning.
The work sheets for creating an educational project can be found in Appendix A. You may wish to reproduce all or only some of the work sheets, based on your planning needs. To recap the use of these sheets, “Step One” is for the brainstorming phase as it relates to the program’s objectives, the major activities, and the learning resources. The “Step Two” sheet is used for describing the specific objectives of the major activity and the mini-tasks to be carried out to ensure that there is a balance between the learning activities, the components, and the language skills being developed. Finally, the “Step Three” sheet is for daily lesson planning. As part of the planning process, it is important to keep in mind and decide when and how formative and summative evaluations will take place throughout the project. Evaluation activities must be planned for and should be a part of the entire planning process. (For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Evaluating Students’ Work.)
Appendix C contains examples of educational projects which will provide you with a better understanding of the development of an educational project. They will show you how to integrate the program’s objectives, the suggested teaching methodology, and available learning resources into a sequenced learning package.
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