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Sailing is a practical activity. There is a need to learn a completely new language of nautical terms, but that can come after students have learned to sail the boat – when those terms will make more sense and they can relate to specific parts of the boat in specific situations. Once they have learned the very basics of how to sail, then is the time to introduce the nautical language. Theory backs up what has already been experienced, but touching, watching and doing are the greatest teachers.
One of the keys to learning is establishing patterns and habits. When you construct your syllabus and lesson plans, you have to balance demonstration by the instructor with practice and repetition by the students. What you are doing is establishing patterns which will stay with them for the rest of their sailing lives. The key to how effective your programs are is in your attitude toward each topic – how you, the program organizers, set it up for the instructors to teach.
Example:If your boat and gear storage is chaotic when the students first go to collect their boat gear, that is the way it will stay. If it is neat and organized and they know they are personally liable right down to the last pin, they will keep it that way. Later on they will realize that this orderliness works to their advantage. They know where everything is, they don’t waste time, they have a role model for when they set up their own boat storage system.
If your organization owns the training boats, they should be bright and shiny at the start of the season. This will encourage your students to use the equipment with care and consideration.
When you are using this planning aid, always think in terms of what it will be like to be a student in the program: Is it fun? Are there things to look forward to? Do they have enough instruction? Are they really learning how to sail or just going through the motions of following a pattern set by you? Has someone told them why they are doing certain things?
The pathways to learning are complicated. You take someone out of their safe, well-known environment and through demonstration, trial and error, encouragement and reinforcement, you teach them new skills. Whenever there is a problem, each of us retreats to a point of security.
When you are constructing your programs, be sure to incorporate pathways and patterns which enable the students to learn a new skill so thoroughly that they feel secure with it; then you can teach another new skill, knowing that they have a learned skill to relate to.
Teach new skills when the need arises and that, by implication, means that you plan your schedules so that new skills are spaced out with sufficient time between for practice and achievement. If you have well-trained, capable instructors, your program stands a very good chance of being successful. If not, we will do our best to train them to be aware of the needs of people who are learning new skills and building on others.
It’s possible to recognize good sailors as soon as they step into a boat; they have a quiet, orderly appearance. Nothing is hurried, yet things happen quickly. When they go afloat, they attend to all the tasks methodically – they are following patterns. That is the task facing you – to turn out competent sailors who sail in safety by creating a friendly, orderly sailing environment for them.
CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT:HOW TO USE THE MPP CARDSFAMILIARIZATIONStudy each of the cards in the various sections and run through the contents of each. In this way you will familiarize yourself with the system, the way it is presented and organized. It is essential that you know what some of the other MPP cards contain since you may well be able to dovetail some of their content into your proposed syllabus.
Freedom of ChoiceWe want to avoid telling you what to do; however, this section will give some helpful advice! We have included what we thought would make up a comprehensive course – but you may wish to add some of your own material, or omit some of ours. When you do so, write out your own modified program on a card and place it in the planner. Please pass any good ideas on to us at USSAILING.
Most organized programs incorporate detailed learn-to-sail classes which follow a similar format, even for sailing craft as diverse as sailboards, dinghies or cruisers, but no one is going to tell you that’s the only way to teach beginners to sail.You may have a group for whom you need to design a special curriculum. For instance, you may have a second level learn-to-sail group that is keen to race. In designing their curriculum you might use all or part of Section 9, Intermediate Dinghy Sailing, and part of Section 13, Beginning Racing.
Planning a Complete ProgramIf this is your first year and you have a limited number of students, you may have only one group to plan for, but if yours is a large, well-developed program with more than eight different classes you have, in effect, to plan eight or more separate complete programs. The card system will help you divide the load among various committee members or instructors. The individual with responsibility for boardsailing could use the relevant boardsailing cards and the program planning matrix to come up with a draft plan that the whole committee could study, modify and approve.
Time MaximizationIt’s never easy to place any teaching program into a time frame. Asked, “How long does it take to teach a person to sail?” we have to answer truthfully, “As long as it takes an individual to learn!” Your job as planners is to give each student as much exposure to active instruction ashore and afloat as is possible within the time constraints dictated by the number of hours your program is open and the number of students within that program.
Your first task is to determine how many hours each class has available to them during their entire course, taking into account when the facility is closed, when all the students are involved in fun days, visits. etc., and when certain classes will be away on big boats or attending regattas.
As a guide, an average student needs approximately 30-35 instruction hours to master the varioustheory and practical skills presented in a full course of instruction such as Section 8. Beginning Dinghy Sailing.
Also, you have to take into account the prevailing weather patterns during your planned program. Is it light wind in the morning, building up to a fresh breeze, or the reverse? Are thunder squalls a regular occurrence? If your sailing site is tidal and you can only sail so many hours around high tide, that too must be considered. You have to decide when it is best to send out each class so they will maximize their learning time.
Again as a guide, aim at a minimum of two hours for a session. Even then, half of that time is going to be taken up with moving boats, rigging or getting to the sailing area. If you make the program exciting, the students are always learning and having fun. There are programs which run from 1-1/2 hours each day to 8 hours each day, from one session a week to six sessions a week –so you have a wide choice!
When planning the length of each class session, there are several considerations: the attention span of the students, the difficulty of the skill they are learning, and the format of your program. If your program is divided into one- or two-week terms, longer class sessions are required or you may decide to shorten the curriculum. Conversely, if your program spans 8-10 weeks, short classsessions meeting 3-4 times per week are sufficient.
Finally, the most important aspect of time allocation is making sure that you do not try to give too much information to your students. Make sure that most of the class will be able to master the skills and information they are taught so they will feel successful and want to return to learn more!
How to Plan the CourseThere are five easy steps you can follow to create each course:1. Develop a course content.2. Develop a course outline.3. Develop a syllabus.4. Develop lesson plans.5. Develop a planning matrix.
The following pages explain these steps in greater detail. To illustrate the steps, we will describe the process for a learn-to-sail dinghy course that meets 3 1/2 hours per day, five days a week for seven weeks, and include the following examples:the syllabus for the first week, five daily lesson plans for that week and a matrix for the sevenweek program.
The examples show how to apportion out various topics into a logical progression. Remember this is only a model! If you need to plan a learn-to-boardsail course, or an intermediate sailing course, or a racing course, refer to the appropriate curriculum sections in the MPP. If your program has different time constraints, fit your course goals and topics into your time frame.
Course ContentDevelop a broad outline for a learn-to-sail dinghy course. Select the general topical areas that will satisfy the program goals. For recommended topics, refer to Section 8. Beginning Dinghy Sailing. Place the topics in order of importance. For example, swimming and safety should be placed first while nomenclature would be further down the list of priorities. When prioritizing keep in mind the goals and length of your course. An example of a course content would be: Swimming Skills Safety Skills Weather Self Rescue Skills Signals and Controls Boat Related Skills Boat Handling Drills Basic Rules of the Road Sportsmanship, Courtesy, and Other People’s Property Nomenclature
Course OutlineThe course outline serves as an intermediate step between the course content and the syllabus. This is a more detailed plan for the course. Use the course content and fill in each topical area with specific material you wish to cover during the course. Again, refer to Section 8, Beginning Dinghy Sailing. When developing the course outline use a logical progression for teaching the topics. Try to strike a balance between the order of importance and a progression starting with essential skills (i.e., stopping, starting, tacking) and working toward combining unrelated skills into a new skill (i.e., man overboard recovery). Remember safety first and make it fun!
SyllabusThe syllabus will be the course outline superimposed in a time frame. For example, one week or one month. Take the course outline and pinpoint the facets of each topic that will be addressed during a segment of the course. Then move these facets over to the syllabus keeping the topics in order of relative importance. The syllabus will not list the topics in the order in which they will bepresented. Refer to the syllabus example.
Daily Lesson PlanLesson plans are used to organize your thoughts, keep you appraised of your pace and progress, and should be kept as professional and legal records. They provide concrete evidence of a planned selection and implementation of activities, and are a record of previous instructional experience. When preparing lesson plans remember that different instructors may have to use it.
When formulating the Daily Lesson Plan, never lose touch with your program’s time frame. Identify a goal for the day. Go to the Weekly Syllabus and select the topics to be covered for that day. Place the topics in an order that will emphasize the daily goal. For the first few meetings of the program it may be difficult to focus on a particular aim or objective. Remember, it is important to capture the attention of your students and to generate enthusiasm. Later lessons can be oriented to a specific goal or skill.
Every effort should be made to include at least five of the recommended topical areas listed in the curriculum sections of the MPP. For example, Section 8. Beginning Dinghy Sailing lists eight:1) Swimming, Weather, and Safety Skills;2) Self Rescue Skills;3) Signals and Controls;4) Boat Related Skills;5) Boat Handling Drills;6) Basic Rules of the Road;7) Sportsmanship, Courtesy, and Other People’s Property;8) Introduction to Nomenclature.
This variety will keep the pace lively and make the course more interesting. The Daily Lesson Plan should include: the daily goal, time allowed for each activity, the activity, the general areas covered, the method used to instruct the activity, and the equipment needed for the day.