Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Manufacturing & Product Development

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Nontraditional Career Resources

SMAW - Striking and Maintaining an Arc (Model)

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

This lesson will teach beginning welding students how to set up the SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) machine, how to strike an arc, how to maintain the arc and run at least three continuous weld (beads) across a weld coupon.  In addition, this lesson incorporates activities proven to help English Language (EL) and special population students.

Lesson Time

Classroom and Demo/Lab
55 Minutes
5 Class Periods

Objectives and Goals

  • Each student will use required content vocabulary.
  • Each student will use safe practices while welding in the school lab.
  • Each student will demonstrate proper current selection for the E6013 welding rod.
  • Each student will demonstrate proper use of the "scratch" and "tap" method for starting the arc.
  • Each student will maintain the arc across the length of their practice welding.
  • Each student will demonstrate various rod manipulation techniques.
  • Each student will participate in discussions with peers using the required content vocabulary.

Activities in this Lesson

  • Teacher Note: During this segment of class it is important that we make sure that students have operational understanding of the terminology we will use in the lab/shop when teaching the steps critical to this type of welding. This presents a good method to momentarily assess the degree to which students have this base information before proceeding. Each student is responsible for obtaining handouts from the tray by the front door. In addition, the day's objectives and instructions for the class period will be on the white board in the front of the class. In this way, instruction always starts in the classroom and then transitions to the lab area.

    1. Today as the students enter the room they will find a safety pre-test in the tray.  Students will take the handout from the tray, which they will use while watching a video later in the class period, and take their seat.

    Note: I have made two sets of this handout in two different colors, so that when we do the "Text Reconstruction Activity," students may easily find a partner with a handout of a different color.

    2. The class will start with a prior knowledge assessment activity called "Red Dot, Green Dot."  Content vocabulary for today’s lesson is listed on various charts around the room. Students will be asked to “rate” their knowledge of each vocabulary word using colored dots (red, yellow, and green). 

     Red  Yellow  Green
    Words I haven’t heard or
    I don’t know at all
    Words I have heard, but I don’t know their meaning Words I know and
    can explain

    This will aid students in the metacognition of new word learning. It will specifically help EL students by giving them an opportunity to “preview” the vocabulary required for the upcoming lesson.  (It is also a great way for the teacher to get an overview of where students stand at the start of the lesson.)  Additionally, after the entire lesson has been completed, students will be able to look back at how they initially self-rated the words so that they can recognize their own progress.

    3. After students have completed the "Red Dot, Green Dot" activity, they will take out the safety pre-test.  They will complete the safety pre-test while watching the two videos. (Answers to the pre-test are included in the video.)

    4.  Upon completion of the videos, the class will take part in a "Text Reconstruction Activity." Each student will have a portion of the worksheet for which they are responsible. Students will be required to find a partner who has a handout of a different color and discuss their answers to the pre-test. It will be their task to inform their partner of the appropriate answers for their section of the worksheet.

    This is a great activity for all students as it requires engagement with the new content as well as the new vocabulary. In addition, requiring students to share their learning helps reinforce the material being presented.

    5. To wrap up this part of the lesson, the teacher should conduct a short discussion with the class to go over the correct answers to the pre-test.  Review appropriate lab attire and safety one last time, and then move the class to the lab.

    Note: You may wish to have students present their completed pre-test to you at the door as an "exit ticket" to the lab.

    Resources and Materials

    • SMAW Safety Pre-test [ Download ] Provide students with copies of this handout to complete the SMAW Safety Pre-test activity.
    • SMAW Safety Pre-test Video - Part 1 [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ] Show this short SMAW promo video while students complete the SMAW safety pre-test.
    • SMAW Safety Pre-test Video - Part 2 [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ] Show this second SMAW promo video while students complete the SMAW safety pre-test.
  • 1. Students will now move to the welding shop (the "lab") to dress out. They will dress in complete leathers, gloves, safety glasses, and welding helmet. 

    2. When they are ready, I gather the students around myself in the middle of the welding shop where I have a small metal table used for demonstrations in my class.  I check each student to ensure that each has the proper welding shade in their helmet.  Then, with the power off on the machine, I show the students how to turn the selector knob to AC current.  This is the desired current for E6013 rod.  Next, I show them how to turn their voltage selector to 75.  Finally, I demonstrate how to place the ground clamp on their station and the rod into the electrode holder (often referred to as a "stinger").

    3. With the power still off, I demonstrate the "tap" technique, which is to tap the end of the rod onto your weld metal and then quickly remove it.  Next, I demonstrate the "scratch" technique, which is similar to striking a match. 

    Be sure to explain to your students that a 1/8 inch gap between the rod and the metal must be maintained.  Any longer and the arc will go out; any shorter, and the rod will weld itself to the metal. I show my students what to do if their rod does become welded to the table.  Turn off the power first, then release the rod from the stinger and gently rock it back and forth to release it. 

    Teacher Note: Since this content is rich in detail that can be abstract to some learners, I always include visuals that restate the instruction using concise phrasing. In this lesson, I display a chart that details, step by step, what I am instructing them to do. This helps students keep track of lessons that are taught using vocabulary that can have multiple meanings. I also find that students who are visual learners need to see the steps written on the chart as well as hear my oral directions that I am delivering.

    4. Now, it's time for the real thing.  I ask that all students "cover" or place their helmets down.  I scan the group to make sure that they are safe.  I then turn on the power and do a "live" demonstration of the tap and scratch techniques.

    I also give a quick demo on how to shut off the power on their machine, how to use the chipping hammer to chip slag, and how to use long welding tongs dip their metal into the quench tank using their safety glasses. 

    PVC Model: Because the welding rod is so small, it can be difficult for many of my students to visualize the process that I am describing. To aid my students in their comprehension, I have created a model of a rod that is made from PVC pipe so that students can see how much of a gap they will need to keep between the rod and the metal. Again, this helps support my visual learners that need to view an enlarged model of the process that they will be completing once they begin the welding process.

  • It is time for the students to demonstrate what they have learned. 

    Each student will move to their pre-assigned welding booth where they are provided a welding coupon.  This is a piece of mild steel that is 1/4 inch thick, 3 inches wide and 6 inches long.  The student will keep this piece of metal for the entire semester, as they can lay many layers of weld bead on this one piece of metal. I also give each student two E6013 rods that are 1/8 diameter to begin with. 

    I tell the students to just practice getting the rod started.  I explain that welding is like riding a bike--some will get it quickly, and some will take longer.  It's not how fast they gain the concept, but how well.  With my welding helmet down, I poke my head into each booth to check student progress.  I provide hands-on instruction to those who are struggling.  I usually do this for about 15 minutes.

  • Once 15 minutes has elapsed, I gather the group back again around my demo table.  With the power off and helmets up, I explain the importance of maintaining the arc. 

    Maintaining an Arc: Once an arc is established, the welder must make sure that a 1/8 inch gap is always maintained.  I show the students how the welding rod burns just like a 4th of July Sparkler.  As the rod is being "consumed," you as the welder must be pushing it down towards the metal, keeping a 1/8 inch gap at all times.  

    Now I will provide a "live" demonstration.  Check to make sure all students are "covered" (helmets down) and then turn on your power.  I use the same technique that I just taught the students to start the arc, then I demonstrate the drag technique.  Hold the welding rod at a consistent 1/8 inch off the metal and simply drag it across the length of the metal. 

    In their next task, they will demonstrate their learning by welding three beads 3 inches long across their weld coupon.

  • Again I send the students to their booths.  I check to see if they can maintain their arc from one end of their coupon to the other.  Some students will still be struggling with starting an arc.  Encourage them and let them know that there is no need to rush.  Take "baby steps" and then move on.  I again use hands-on instruction for those that are struggling.

  • Each student will place their name in chalk on their weld coupon and place it on the demo table.  They will clean up their booth and place all clothing on the racks provided.  Each student in the class has a clean-up duty and once done, they will report for a closing activity back in the classroom.  Students at this level are released from the classroom after the teacher checks for cleanliness in the lab setting.

    I have students revisit the charts we completed at the beginning of class during the Red Dot, Green Dot activity to have them gauge how much they have learned in just one lesson.  They will take a few minutes to place dots halfway over their original dots if there was a change. I then will have a short discussion and excuse them for the day.

    Optional activity: In order to assess how well students have retained the content vocabulary, you may have them write a short description of what we just did in class using the vocabulary that was taught. Students then share their writing with other students so the content is reinforced an additional time through listening.


Assessment Types:
Projects, Writing Samples, Observations,

I assess each student individually during this lesson.  I typically do not place an end-of-the-period deadline for mastering these techniques.  Instead, I encourage each student to keep working on what we have discussed. 

The first assessment is to simply poke your head into their booth while they are trying to start an arc.  A simple pass or fail is used.  Either they can or they can't.  I've found the best way to show the students how to do it correctly is to actually take their hands and do it with them.

The second assessment is maintaining the arc.  Again, either they can or they can't.  I know they can when I witness them start an arc and make one continuous bead across the length of the coupon.  Always be encouraging.  You will have some students who get it right away and others that are still struggling with starting the arc.  Hands-on instruction is really key.

Closing thoughts:  Although this lesson may only take one day, the assessment itself may take up to a week or longer.  It all depends on the students and how quickly they can move through the content.  Each of the activities can be done on different days during the lesson. The optional writing activity has its best success at the end of the lesson.

I also strongly suggest you start your students with E6013 rod.  It can be run on any current (though preferably AC) and is extremely forgiving.  It is very easy to start and maintain.  Other rods are not as forgiving--any small mistake, and you either kill the arc or your bead looks terrible.