Lesson 1 – Lesson Plan and Resources *NEW*

Soon after I created this website about seven years ago, I started receiving many inquiries from my website visitors about sharing my teaching methods and resources. I hesitated to do this as I am constantly changing and updating what I do in the classroom. After many hours of work, revising and updating as I taught several groups of beginners, I have finally reached a stage where my resources are possibly as good as I can make them and at a high enough standard where I feel comfortable enough to share them with other teachers. I have tried many different ways to teach and now have settled on what I think is my best effort — what works the best for me and my students.

I use my website as a complete “package of learning.” It all fits together. Teach the lesson, use the bridge hands (below) to apply what has been learned, do the quiz for homework, play the Practice Games.

Here is Lesson 1. I will continue with the other lessons as I have time. I am hoping to add at least one lesson a week with resources. These lessons are the accumulation of much experience and a lot of work. Even this last step, to put them on the website and to check and double-check to make sure I have done the best job I can, has taken me almost a week. Anyway, here it is. I would be very interested in your feedback if you use these resources to teach a class, a small group of friends, or to teach yourself. Email: info@ateacherfirst.com

Just a warning: The first lesson in bridge, Lesson 1, is one of the most difficult to get through if you have students who have never played bridge before. As a teacher, you need to emphasize that learning bridge takes time and perseverance, but they can learn it! Never give up! Even if you learn one thing in each lesson, it will accumulate.

I start by covering most of the information in the hand-out, “Starting the Game — Bidding and Playing.” This is found at the beginning of Step 1. I set up two games to show how tricks are taken in a NT contract compared to a trump contract. These are the two games I use:

Two Practice Games

Usually, this takes about an hour and then we have a short break.

After the break, I teach Lesson 1 – Opening 1 of a Suit using the information from this website.

I believe very strongly that students should see the actual hands they will bid. Setting up hands can take a teacher a lot of time to prepare. Instead of doing that, I print these hands on paper, cut them out so I have enough sets for each table, and the students use them for bidding.

These hands have been created to utilize my teaching style and philosophy:
1. Keep it simple. (Their first introduction to bridge is complicated enough!)
2. Repetition helps with learning.
3. Realistic-looking cards are easier to learn from (compared to looking at symbols).
4. Each player will have a chance to open the bidding and respond so everyone has a turn, is actively engaged, and no one is left out.

Before distributing these hands, look at them carefully. They are set up in pairs. North is the dealer (first to bid) for #1 and South is the responder; East is the dealer for #2; South is the dealer for #3, West for #4, and so on. The Dealer is marked on the hand so there should be no confusion identifying the dealer. The dealer changes each round, which is what happens in a real game.

I recommend that students use bidding boxes. After the bidding is finished for each deal and before the bids are put away, the answers should be reviewed.  Students will do better at bidding if they understand the reasons why they should bid a certain way.

Here are some instructions for introducing the hands to the students. Before they start bidding the first four bridge hands, and after they bid each set of four hands, stop them, and go through the Teaching Points for the next four hands.

Lesson 1 – Teaching Points for Bidding Hands

Here are the hands for printing:

Bridge Hands – 1 -12

Bridge Hands – 13 – 24

And here are the answers and analysis:

Lesson 1 – Answers and Analysis of Bidding Hands

You may find that you do not have enough time in class to do everything, but don’t fret about that. The first lesson is often overwhelming for new bridge students. Try to assure them that it is normal to be somewhat confused and feel a bit “out of my comfort zone.” It will all come together and will become more clear as they progress. If you run out of time, stop and use some of the bidding hands at the start of the next lesson, as a review.

Their homework assignment is Quiz #1 from the website. They should check their answers, also. This way they can evaluate their own learning. Encourage them to  ask questions if they get different answers and don’t understand the bidding. Emphasize this: The more they study now, the more they will benefit from these lessons.

When teaching beginner lessons, I do not use time in my classroom for playing the hands, other than the two practice games for this lesson.(See note* below.) I allow them to borrow my duplicate boards which I set up with the Practice Games for Lesson 1 (on this website). I encourage them to meet on their own time to bid and play those hands. Sometimes I will meet with them to get them organized and start them off and then I leave so they can play on their own. The number of players does not have to be even (4 or 8, for example). I show them ways to integrate a 5th player or an extra pair. If they sit out for one round, they have a chance to learn by watching the others. Before attending the Lesson 2 class, they should have played some bridge games based on “Opening 1 of a Suit.” It will help them understand the complete game much better — how the bidding relates to the final contract and how tricks are taken. The more experience they get, the faster they will learn.

I emphasize this point: “I always win. Either I win, or I learn.” That’s why I play bridge and love it! Mistakes are not to be looked at as a negative thing and students should never be embarrassed or feel bad. View mistakes as opportunities to learn. Everyone makes mistakes, even the experts.

*Note: Beginner students often take a very long time to play the hands. This can be even longer if they know a teacher is watching. I want them to get the most value from their time with me in the classroom. My time as a teacher is more valuable to them when I am teaching or coaching them, not when I am watching. There is very little teaching going on when they are playing the hands. They need time to think.

However, they do need experience playing the game. If your club has a supervised play area, that would be the perfect scenario. Have some tables set aside during a duplicate game for them to play. They can ask questions from a friendly director when they need to, without anyone hovering over them.