Lesson Skeletons

Here’s the first in a series of lesson skeletons chosen for:

  • Facilitating discussion
  • Using student contributions and emerging language
  • Providing a useful skills and language focus for students to take away

Of course, things do not always pan out the way the plan says. Whenever I use a lesson skeleton I always draw a table and leave two columns blank for what could happen. After all, it is not so easy to put the flesh on the skeleton before the lesson, without the students

Questions and answers

This is an idea I took and extended from Teaching Unplugged this year and added a few ideas to extend the lesson and focus on emerging language.

1. Draw a question box on the board

1.Why 2.Is/are
How Do/does
  •  Add modals or semi-modals for higher levels or leave box 2. free
  • Provide an example for learners to answer, e.g. “what’s the cheapest way to get around London at night?”


2. Ask learners to write questions they would like the rest of the class to answer. N.B. make sure you let them know the rest of the class will hear the question.3. Sit around in a circle and read out your questions and discuss answers to them. Take it in turns to answer the questions and allow for extra discussion to arise as a result.

  • In this stage, note down some good examples of language and write some reformulated versions of things to improve, adding some new vocabulary.

If the class is not so talkative, the question-answer session can be done in pairs, walking around the room and commenting on each question.


3. Give pieces of card or paper with new phrases/reformulations/good examples of language in to groups (written in stage 3) and ask each group to think of the question/resulting discussion in which the phrases came up.

  • Be ready to help check the meaning of phrases but leave learners in control of figuring out meaning from context. Only intervene if asked or you hear a mistake.
  • Check for meaning (if it’s even necessary) and raise awareness of any grammar that usually surrounds these phrases and pronunciation, connected speech (especially in fixed expressions or idioms).
  • Make sure everyone has the new vocabulary copied in their notebooks


4. Ask students to take one question and write an agony-aunt style reply to one question.

  • Make it clear this is an opportunity to use new vocabulary
  • Attach them to the wall and comment on the replies in groups
  • Note down some difficulties for reformulation/error correction for either the start of the next lesson/end of the lesson.

3 thoughts on “Lesson Skeletons

  1. Oli says:

    Nice lesson. With the questions at the beginning, do you provide any context? Did you find Ss were inspired enough to come up with questions from nothing?

    • dalecoulter says:

      I have to say, I normally use this lesson with classes that are used to Dogme teaching, so they generally come up with some pretty inspiring questions… some of the best have been “how can I become more critical as a person” or “why is everything on the right in London, the cars, standing on the tube”. Although, I have to say, as a ‘first day’ activity or used with a class not so acclimatised to the ecology of a Dogme classroom it wouldn’t provide such results.

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