Lesson 13 - Goal Setting and Lesson Planning Illinois State Library

Planning a Tutoring Session

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Planning Starts

A tutor planning a session's lesson needs to know about the learner they will be tutoring. The tutor may have had a first meeting with the new learner where the Volunteer Coordinator introduces the new learner to the tutor. This is a good opportunity to discover the information a tutor needs to plan the first tutoring session.

What does a tutor need to know? A tutor needs to know this information about the adult learner:

If you don't yet know this information, then plan to discuss these questions with the learner at your first session. All of the listed items have bearing on planning a tutoring lesson.

Planning Continues

Getting specific about planning a tutoring session. Information about the learner informs the planning of the tutoring session. But, in addition, a tutor planning an upcoming session faces several decisions about the topic itself.

Example — Using a Learner's Goals in Lesson Planning

GOAL: To use the telephone book.

Task Analysis: This method breaks the goal down into tasks to be accomplished. The result of using a task analysis is that you develop a list of learning tasks to achieve to reach the goal. What you teach will be determined by what you and the learner want to accomplish by the end of the session. Here are examples of some tasks:

Steps toward the achievement of that goal:

Skills needed to be taught:

When you can use a learner's goals as the foundation for your session, it will be more effective.


Begin sessions with a short review of material already mastered. This starts the session on a positive note. Also, review any home practice. Learners who practice and apply new skills between sessions will progress faster.

Reading and Writing

As you plan each session, write down objectives, such as:

As you teach, break the skills into steps small enough to be thoroughly mastered and reinforced in a session or two. Adjust your plan as you go along. Each session provides the basis for planning the following sessions.

Language experience stories may give insights into learners' interests. Samples of reading and writing may reveal strengths and weaknesses in word analysis and comprehension. Writing samples may reveal strengths and indicate needs for instruction in spelling, punctuation, grammar usage, and vocabulary.

Reinforcing Activities

Include in each session:

Also include everyday activities that reinforce the skills learned, for instance games, maps, computers, newspapers, and puzzles.

Other activities are:

Assignments for Practice/Home Study

Help the learner plan take home work each session. Learners may not have much time to devote to studying, but they should try to read something every day. Some examples are listed below.

Reading for Pleasure

Use the last 5-10 minutes of each session to read aloud to your learner. Choose a short article on a subject of interest to the learner. Do not ask questions at this time, just let them enjoy it. You could tape any of these readings for learners to review at home. This emphasizes that reading can be fun.

Wrap-up and Evaluation

Discuss what the learner has accomplished during this session. Identify specific achievements and celebrate them. Work toward enabling the learner to identify his or her own achievements each session. Identify and quantify progress towards the learner's goals. Decide together what the objectives of the next session will be. Solicit the learner's opinion about the session. What worked for them? Was there something they particularly liked and would want to do more? Was there something they particularly disliked and would not want to continue? Was there something they didn't understand and need to spend more time on? Mastery is always the ultimate goal for any skill.

After the Session

Write notes about your learners' progress on the day's session plan. Write any comments, evaluations, and future plans. These progress notes should be written down immediately following the session. Progress reports are important for several reasons. Progress reports document the adult learner's improvement for the learner, for the Volunteer Coordinator and for the funding agency. It is often a requirement for the agency to report learner's progress in aggregate form to their funders. It is certainly important that as your learner passes the markers that measure their movement towards their long term goals, that the tutor recognizes each achievement.

More information on developing a lesson plan can be found in Chapter 7 of Demystifying Adult Literacy for Volunteer Tutors.

Planning a Tutoring Session - Reflective Activity

Take a minute to reflect on the information you just read. Submit a reflective email on the following topic.

Joe, your adult learner, has the goal of improving his reading skills. He is currently at a beginning reading level. He is a young farmer with an interest in the outdoors. He wants to read and understand the newspaper. Create a lesson and plan a tutoring session that will help Joe reach his goal.

Compose an email to your trainer. Put the title Planning a Tutoring Session - Reflective Activity in the subject line. Copy and paste the paragraph into the body of the email. Then type in your answer and send it. Completing this assignment is a requirement of your training. Your trainer will respond to you through email.

There is no Learning Check with this Lesson.