Examples of Lesson Plans

A few suggestions and ideas to help teachers and tutors using The Westcoast Reader.
Remember to look at our Teachers’ Notes for exercises and learning activities for each print edition. 
Page one has teaching suggestions, and pages two, three and four
are filled with learner exercises.

1. Pre-reading
Readers preview a story from The Westcoast Reader.
They look at the headline, the photo(s) and photo captions.
Ask learners what they know about the topic.
Ask them what they want to know about the topic.

2. Partner reading
Learners sit in pairs.
One learner reads while another learner listens and repeats (without looking at the text).
After the reader finishes reading a sentence, the listener repeats the same sentence (more advanced students can paraphrase after repeating the sentence).
After reading the article, learners switch roles.
If learners need more practice with spelling or writing, the person listening could also write the key words they hear (learners seem to enjoy dictation practice).

3. Spelling bee
Hold a spelling bee in class after reading an article in The Westcoast Reader.
Be sure to rehearse before the spelling bee (review the spelling words and definitions).

4. Make your own flashcards
Students choose a word from an article.
Write the word on a piece of paper large enough to read from a distance. Be careful with spelling!
A student might also write their word on the white board/black board or a large sheet of paper.
This can be done with a whole group, or with smaller groups. If in smaller groups, choose 3 words from the article.
Student holds up her card and chooses others to explain the meaning.
Find the sentence in the article where the word appears.
Students write down each word presented.
Teacher chooses 10 or 15 of that list for a spelling test given at the next class.

 5. Word order – Jumbled sentences
Read an article in the WCR after introducing the vocabulary.
Students paraphrase a sentence containing information from the article.They are not to lift an exact sentence from the text.
Practice with simple examples first. Remind them to count the words.
They will learn, also, that different word orders might be acceptable, BUT some are better English (position of modifying phrases, etc)
Options: work with a partner and guess each other’s. work with a group of three or 4; write the jumbled sentences on the blackboard and everyone guesses.
e.g. Article: How old is a lobster?
Students write a sentence of not more than 8 words.
Student sentence: “No one knows the age of a lobster.”
Student then mixes the word order and writes it down.
Write their jumbled sentence on a piece of paper.


Below, please find specific lesson plan suggestions/ideas from some of the print editions. 

May 2011


a) Cloze exercise
Delete the articles “a” and “an” in this story to create a cloze exercise.
Keep the headline, photo and photo caption.
You could also do another cloze activity, deleting prepositions.

b) Discussion
Ask learners if they have a family pet.
What kinds of pets do they have? What is the name of his/her pet?
Compare the different pets. Which pets are easier to look after?
Ask learners what the differences are between a pet and a wild animal such as herons (on page four) or the gorilla in one of the stories above.
For more conversations about pets, go to: www.esljunction.com/conversation_questions/pets_animals.html


Think aloud
Thinking aloud also allows learners to see what effective readers do inside their heads.
As you read the article aloud, pause often to say what you are thinking. Below is an example of this process.

“So far, I’ve learned  _______ (for example: “the earthquake was huge, a 9.0, and the earthquake was in northern Japan on March 11); “This made me think of _______ (for example: Haiti in January in 2010); “I think we will read about _______ next” (for example: about the damage); “I reread that part because…”; “I wonder why …” and so on.


September 2011

Dense questioning
One type of questioning that learners seem to enjoy is dense questioning.
Dense questioning helps students to ask and answer different kinds of questions.
It generates comprehension questions about reading material while helping students become more familiar with the reading material by building connections to their own experiences.


a) Text: Generate questions about the information found in the story. “What is the woman’s name?” “Where was Elaine?” “When was she there?” “How long was she there?” and so on.

b) Reader: Write questions about the readers’ experiences, values and ideas and how they relate to the story. “Have you ever been on a boat?” “Did you wear a life jacket?” “Can you swim?” “Have you ever been lost? Afraid?” and so on. Add visual aids wherever possible.

c) World: Think of questions that ask students to relate the news story to prior articles/news stories. “Have you read or heard any other stories about water and danger?” Readers may recall the stories “Water safety”, “Two heroes save four”, “Miracle on the sea” and “A lucky dog”. Pull out old issues of The Westcoast Reader.)


October 2011

Main ideas
Before handing out the newspaper, ask students to listen carefully to an article while you read it aloud.
Choose an article that matches your students’ interests and/or level.
Before reading the article for a second time, ask students to take notes while listening.
After listening for the second or third time, ask learners to sit in small groups.
As a group, learners decide on the main idea* of the article.

*You may have to explain what “main idea” means. What is the main point of the article, its purpose? What does the author want to tell you?
The degree of detail you provide on main ideas will depend on the level of your students.
You may find the following website helpful when explaining clues for finding main ideas: http://academic.cuesta.edu/acasupp/AS/617.htm

Various WCR and Teachers’ Notes issues

Using comic strips
The Westcoast Reader often uses comic strips in its Teachers’ Notes, but you can also bring in comics as a separate exercise.
Give learners the comic, but omit the dialogue or thought.
Ask learners to study what is happening in the comic.
In pairs, have learners add their own words in the dialogue and thought balloons.
First, you may want to show just one part of a comic to elicit some ideas from the class.
Ask “Who is in the comic?” “What is happening?” “Are they happy, sad, surprised?”

So much can be done with comic strips, and the students seem to love these exercises.
Look at our Teachers’ Notes to see some examples of how we have used
Garfield, For Better or Worse, Ziggy, Peanuts and other featured comics.


March 2015 issue of The Westcoast Reader GARFIELD © 2012 Paws, Inc. Reprinted with permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

March 2015 issue of The Westcoast Reader
GARFIELD © 2012 Paws, Inc. Reprinted with permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK.                         All rights reserved.

Read the comic from left to right. What is the weather like?
Find the answers here on page 1.

1. It is sunny.

2. ___________________.

3. ___________________.

4. ___________________.

5. ___________________.

6. ___________________.

7. How does Garfield feel?

He feels __________________.

Write two different sentences starting with “I am done with”.
I am done with means I don’t want talk about/see/hear/experience something (or someone) again.

I am done with _______________________.

I am done with _______________________.

May-June 2012

Who am I? – Part I
Learners can skim looking for capital letters in the first few paragraphs of various articles, searching for names that fit the descriptions in the exercise on page three.
A student says: “I was a famous explorer who came to Vancouver Island in 1778.”
Question: Who am I?
Answer: James Cook

Who am I? – Part II – Expansion
After your learners have had a chance to skim or read a few articles suitable to their level, try this exercise.*
Photocopy and cut out the photos and names of people in the stories your students are familiar with. Use past articles as well if you have a larger class.

Put the students in groups.
Each person in the group will have a different photo taped to his/her back.
Stress the fact that this is a game of secrets.
By asking questions, each learner has to guess who s/he is (in other words, with questions s/he has to guess who is taped to their backs).
The group will walk around and look at the backs of others.
Each person gets to ask five yes/no questions, so answers can only be “yes” or “no”.
Brainstorm with students the types of questions they may ask, using “Am I….?” or “Do I …?” or “Did I …?”

*Demonstrate first.
Use Charlie Quan as an example.
Have Charlie Quan taped to your back. Walk around the room.
Ask your learners five yes/no questions such as “Am I young?”, “Do I make guitars?”, “Am I dead?”, “Am I Chinese?”
Finally, you might ask “Am I Charlie Quan?”