Meat and rice (2): the notion of balance in your lessons

Published on 19th January, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Last week I touched on the importance of balance. When planning a lesson, particularly a longer one (over 60 minutes), you might find it useful to experiment with one of the following visual annotations to your plan:

1. Add an interaction column and roughly calculate how much time is ‘you’ time and how much ‘them’. I generally find a 1:3 ratio works, though obviously this varies depending on your context – for every minute that you are the focus of attention, there should be three for students (this would include pair and group work).

2. Use different highlighters to colour in a balance of your choice on your lesson plan, e.g. accuracy work versus fluency; noisy versus quiet time; receptive versus productive skills. See how equal these are and consider how appropriate this balance is for your group.

3. At the end of your plan, draw an ‘energy graph’, anticipating the peaks and troughs of activity in your lesson. Remember that both are necessary: a group discussion will probably be a ‘peak’, whereas checking words in a dictionary would be a ‘trough’. A variation on this is to choose just one of your students and try and see the lesson through their eyes. Choose either an ‘average’ student or a weaker one, plotting the energy graph in terms of their predicted energy outlay.


  • tanks for your precious tips.Anyway I must confess that there more peaks in my lessons, I mean I develop plenty of class discussions and speaking pair works,pronunciation and phonetic activity, a wide range of vocabulary, but little grammar.You can guess the result.Now I have a new perspectine.Tnak you again

    titti on 28 January, 2010
  • Cool article as for me. I’d like to read something more concerning this matter. Thanx for sharing this material.

    Steave on 9 February, 2010