Monday, August 26, 2013

PPP All the Way Home

The three little Ps have been on my mind lately -- Present, Practice, Produce. That's because I'm being asked in two different professional development environments to use it as a template for lesson planning.

This is a bit of a challenge for me. I find myself resisting. A lot.

I don't actually hate PPP. I think it's a decent technique for introducing someone to a specific skill or bit of knowledge. It's a tool, among others, that can be used regularly within the context of a broader learning environment. What's bothering me is that it's too often used AS the learning environment.

PPP is a teacher-centered process. Yes, you can dress it up by showing a video or having a guest speaker or whatever ... but in the end there is a teacher-selected transmission and success consists of students demonstrating that they received it.

When we're told to use it as THE model for EVERY lesson, how does it develop creative, empowered, collaborative learners? Indeed, how does it develop such qualities in a teacher?

Here's an excerpt from a handout I received recently. The topic was "How to write a lesson plan."
The first thing you want to take into consideration when writing your lesson objectives are the standards for your specific state, district, or field. Make sure that all of your lessons are in alignment with these standards, as they are the foundation of effective teaching and should guide all student learning.
Hmmm, I thought lesson objectives were based on observing student needs, not the needs of the state, district or field.

In the 10 pages of this document, there is no hint of including the learners in the process of deciding what the lesson is about, deciding how the lesson might progress, deciding what the goals are, deciding whether the goals were met. Where is the voice of the student? There is a note that students should turn in original work for "production" stage. And here's the teacher-centered reason:
Ultimately, original student work gives you a much clearer impression of whether or not your lesson objectives and goals are going to be met.
WHOSE goals??? Unbelievable.

Edit to add: if you're not already aware of it, there's a fabulous discussion of the pros and cons of PPP at Scott Thornbury's (now dormant :( ) A-Z of ELT.  Watch the video, stay for the comments!

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