One of the things I most love about TPRS is the organic way in which lesson plans can come about. As far as a basic philosophy for lesson planning goes, I’ve usually relied on Anne Matava’s approach that she describes in her books in first identifying the key words you will need from a novel (or other reading), putting them down on a page and then seeing if you can come up with a story based on them. Basically see what context arises out of those words and then milk that for all it’s worth. I love her approach not just because it is a very solid example of backwards planning, but especially because her stories are so student-centered realities that are truly engaging.
So today I was sitting down with a list of my target vocab for the quarter, looking to see if any combination of words would “play” with each other, trying to find a context to make things work. Nothing came. Nada. So I changed tacks and went over to Toxel.com, which is a great collections of all kinds of pictures (especially nouns) that are engaging in their own right. Browsing through, I came across a lovely collection of home theaters: http://www.toxel.com/tech/2009/07/06/12-unusual-and-creative-home-theaters/ and found myself lingering. While looking through those, I then looked back at my basic list and three words jumped off the page: “Watches”, “Invites”, “Stays.” I’ve decided that my basic PQA tomorrow will start with talking about films and seeing what types of film genres people like to watch. From there I’ll ask who they invite to come with them (Oprah, Justin Bieber, Chuck Norris, etc.) to various films. After milking this as far as it goes, we’ll slide over to the picture collection and decide what films would be best to watch in each setting and whom people should invite to each film. Of course, I’ll have a couple celebrities not stay till the end of the film for various reasons (no popcorn, too scared, etc.).
In other words, organic planning. Find the context out there and see what words help you get there. Once I had a nice idea of a setting, other things just clicked. As much as I love and rely on Matava scripts, I’m not always going the direction of the vocab there. Seeing as how I have my target word lists set, I need to build a series of stories that work within that ecosystem, and I’m finally learning how to make that process more painless.