The Secrets of Effective Lesson Plans
Even if you have been teaching for years, there will inevitably come a time when you will be at a loss when it comes to writing effective lesson plans. It can be very difficult to prepare for the flood of information you have to dispense. To be able to deliver the information in a form that will engage the student, boost their learning curve, and incorporate their unique needs into the curriculum can truly be an art form. When all of these elements come into play, even the most experienced of teachers have been known to hit a snag at times. As some educational experts will explain:
“Just as an architect wouldn’t begin a new building project without blueprints, a teacher needs a solid lesson plan in order to be successful in the classroom.”
In short, the key to successful students is a successful lesson plan.
Know the Process
Every lesson plan needs to include certain fundamental elements: objectives, procedures, assessment, etc. It is important to understand however, that these features alone are not an assurance that your approach to the lesson will yield results but are the minimum expectations of every plan. In order for your plans to reach the heart of your student much more than the basics must be included.
After you have completed your basics you need to flesh out the plan with additional details that incorporate student needs, interests, and abilities. For example, in the objective phase, you might consider including a class activity that will help the student to identify his/her specific goal in the lesson. In the procedures phase you might consider how you will demonstrate the material; will you use guided practice, group activities, individual assignments or address other needs? At this point, consider each student’s learning style, abilities, and interests. Your goal will be to engage the student in the learning process so that when they reach the assessment stage they will be able to retain the information.
How to Put the Pieces Together
Once you have the outline carefully laid out, take your planning one step further. This is the stage where your plan can go from average to stellar. Consider these additional points:
- Connect the lesson to real life: This will help the student to understand practical application of the lesson outside of the classroom. The more the student can see the value of the lesson, the more likely they will be to engage in the practice and work to retain it.
- Use technology whenever possible: Technology is a major part of the future and the more a student can interact with hands on experience, the better prepared they are for the world they are going to inherit. The use of technology also is a great way for a teacher to tap into all of the many different learning styles that may make up the class.
- Leave room for adjustments: When it comes to education there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all. Students learn at different paces and in different ways. Your lesson plan must be flexible enough to adapt to each student’s needs in order for them all to benefit from the instruction given.
- Allow time for regular monitoring as the lesson progresses. It is important to know if your lesson is hitting its mark or if the student is not getting the information correctly. The sooner you catch these types of problems the easier it is to correct and redirect.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
It goes without saying that effective teachers do far more than stand in front of a classroom and talk to a group of students. While auditory processing is effective for some students by and large the vast majority of students learn in other ways. One major mistake that many teachers make is to not incorporate the individual needs of each student in their lesson plans. According to the Education Oasis,
“Remember, an objective is a description of what a student does that forms the basis for making an inference about learning. Poorly written objectives lead to faulty inferences.”2
You also want to avoid a disconnect between the learned behavior and the assessment. Your assessment should be able to give you a picture of whether or not your assessment was achieved and should be an extension of what you taught in the class, not something separate.
When you take into account your objectives, your students’ abilities, and their learning styles when you make your lesson plans, you’ll find that your students will not only learn more but they will enjoy the experience far more than the old style of teaching where students simply learned by rote.
An article for teachers that should contain some tips and tricks on lesson planning. What works good while planning lessons. Which mistakes to avoid. Where to find good materials (if you know some particular sources you can mention them but they should not be some commercial projects). And how can you know if your lesson plan is good.