I recently had a friend ask me how to structure what they have been offering as a 1:1 hourly rate tutoring service into a full fledged semester long course offering. It’s easy to tutor and respond to the needs of a student, but takes a different mindset to plan a course for a group of students. If you have not had formal teacher training,and want some tips about how to create and offer a full fledged course, this article is for you.

I realized that many people who are thinking about making directory listings on our Life Force Canada Education Portal might be wondering the same thing, so I have compiled a list of tips for doing this, based on my experience creating courses for summer school and after school and weekend courses over the years while teaching English and Language Arts on two continents.

Tip 1: Think of a final project (or test) that can be set up to demonstrate a set of skills or mastery of a concept or a group of related concepts and work backwards to determine how many classes would be needed to be able to succeed and complete the project.

Tip 2. Completely develop the marking rubric, to make sure students and parents (and you) are clear about what the learning intentions are, and what mastery of the topic would look like (and if, and how, marks will be assigned  if using marks)

Tip 3. Brainstorm the necessary knowledge (micro skills) required to successfully complete the project and achieve the top assessment possibly on your rubric. It’s easy to mistakenly judge a final project based on skills and knowledge (e.g. the ability to draw) that were not taught in your course.

Tip 4. Count up the lessons needed to teach each necessary knowledge, and that will tell you how many classes to include in your course. You don’t have to be stuck to a typical semester time frame. If you realize your final project will take two or more lessons than you have time for. Change the final project and its requirements, rather than ‘cram in’ more topics in each lesson.

Tip 5: Plan your time in chunks. 

Here is how I organized my time for each hour of class taught, whether 1:1 or in a small class setting.

I used 50 minute teaching ‘chunks’.

As a general rule of thumb, I found that it was possible to teach 1 concept in a 15 minute presentation, or between 5 and 8 new vocabulary words or terms in an hour using a story context or dialogue or realistic example. The rest of the ‘hour’ would be used to practice what was learned in the presentation,  and apply what was learned

Minutes 0-10 I would spend the first 10 minutes  of each hour spent chatting and checking in with the students, and doing a review of previously taught material in a fun riddle or visual or warm up activity.

Minutes 11- 20  were spent presenting new material (dialogue, example, case study, article read -a loud, audio clip, video ; I only used PPT as a last resort)

Minutes 21-31 were spent doing ‘guided’ activity, such as a drill exercise such as a fill in the blank or matching of the material just taught (no more than 8 new terms or words)

Minutes 32-40  were spent doing a ‘freer’ activity, allowing the students to explore how to use the concept or new vocabulary correctly. For example, questions where the student has to distinguish which is the correct answer of two choices, or explore more examples of how to use  the new material.

Minutes 40-50 were spent in a ‘free’ activity that required creative thinking and free thought. The students would have to think of their own examples or answer questions based on a similar example to the one used in the original presentation.

Minutes 51- 54– I used a quick review before the break. I used a ‘Rapid fire’ Q & A  review, or a riddle, or a ‘quick quiz’ usually. Sometimes I would start break early if the students were tired or needed a bathroom break.

Minutes 55- 60 were always a break.


Tip 6. Make an outline of what to teach in each hour of class over the course of the semester. This document can double as your teaching curriculum outline to show prospective parents.

When I taught in China and South America, I was always asked to teach a 3 hour blocks of time, which I broke down into 3 ‘chunks’ of 50 to 55 minutes each.  I always gave the students a 5 to 10 min break at the 55 minute mark in each ‘hour’ of  class.

However, the course can work equally well if only taught in one hour chunks three times a week.

If only teaching one class once per week, the final project needs to be much easier, even if it is the same amount of teaching time as a class given three times per week. This is so that only a few classes are needed to prepare it, or so that final project preparation can be done in a 15 minute session at the end of the last month of classes.


So assuming a semester of class is 3 months long, and 3 hours of instruction were given each week (either in one 3 hour session or 3 sessions of 1 hour each) I could teach

Week 1: hour 1: introductions, course overview and goal setting; hour 2: learning point #1 (followed the time organization pattern mentioned above); hour 3: learning point #2 (included a review quiz game in lieu of the final break at the 50 min mark that includes questions or ways to review material from learning point# 1 and #2).

Week 2: hour 1: Learning point #3 (usually a listening/ video) (review portion to include a question from the previous class and a question from week 1), hour 2: Learning point #4 (usually reading based presentation of new material), hour 3: Learning point #5 (included a weekly review quiz game at the end in lieu of the final break at the 50 min mark).

Week 3: hour 1: Learning point #6 (listening exercise such as a read aloud or video), hour 2 (5 min. review at the start of class to include questions about Learning point #5 and a question from Week 1), hour 3:Learning Point #7,

Week 4: hour 1: Learning Point #8 (listening exercise such as a read aloud or video) ; hour 2: Learning Point #9;  hour 3: Game show activity or group work activity to review all the material learned to date.

I would repeat the above weekly pattern for all of Month 2, and first 2 weeks of Month 3. The last two weeks were dedicated to review and final project preparation.

Tip 7. Plan to do all the final project preparation in class, and don’t underestimate adequate prep time

I used to start the final project preparation half way through the course, and designate a one hour chunk (50 min class) per week to its completion, allowing them to work on the final project one step at a time at their own pace.

In small group settings I always included a role play practise session and a peer review assessment, using the exact same assessment and feedback rubric I would use as a ‘final assessment’ (the parents I worked for wanted to see ‘marks’ and measurable progress).  Alternatively you could allow the student to self-assess their project, go over it with them, and ask them how they could improve before the final ‘deadline’ for completing the project to help them get the most out of the experience.

Pricing Suggestions

Price your course based on the number of hours it will take to complete all the lessons and final project presentation and assessment, and any materials you need to buy especially for this course. Be sure to communicate the supplies or books the student will have to purchase ahead of time.

I found that using a template to make courses made offering courses easier to prepare, and more professional in their presentation, and hope you got some good ideas from reading this article.