A Guide to Lesson Planning
Diary submitted by Brian, Valencia.
How can I conduct my lessons so that my students know what they are supposed to be learning and when they have learned it?
The standard approach to lesson planning is tripartite in that it comprises the following:
- Objectives for student learning
- Teaching/learning activities
- Strategies to check student understanding
Normally the teacher explains the objectives at the start of the lesson and reminds the students what they have been learning, if possible confirming with that they have learned it. In the sage old advice to teachers – first you tell them what you will teach, then you teach them and then you tell them what you’ve taught them. The trick is to do this effectively.
Milkova describes six steps for effective lesson planning which I paraphrase here:
(1) Outline learning objectives. Prioritise these in case time runs out in the lesson. This can happen due to students needing more time at a certain point, for whatever reason.
(2) Develop the introduction. It’s a good idea to put some effort into explaining the importance of the lesson objectives
(3) Plan the specific learning activities (the main body of the lesson). It goes without saying that activities should be chosen to keep the attention of the students throughout.
(4) Plan to check for understanding. This critical activity is surprisingly often overlooked.
(5) Develop a conclusion and a preview for the next lesson. This gives the students a sense of purpose and continuity in the program
(6) Create a realistic timeline. This is something that comes easier to more experienced teachers.
The crucial question to answer is – Has the plan worked? To know if the objectives of a lesson have been achieved or not, feedback is vital, but not just at the end of the lesson. The teacher needs to check and correct what students are doing during the lesson to keep on track towards the objectives. Dean et al. recommend the following:
- Provide feedback that addresses what is correct and elaborates on what students need to do next.
- Provide feedback appropriately in time to meet students’ needs.
- Provide feedback that is criterion referenced. For example, it should be directly related to the skill being developed and answer the question for the student – How well am I doing?
Engage students in the feedback process. Allow students to help each other in answering questions and testing each other. This can be done without formal marking.
It is a good idea to briefly revisit the content of a lesson in the next one as a way of reinforcing what has been learned. Also, when students expect this to happen it encourages revision.
-  Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning,
by Stiliana Milkova, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan
-  Classroom Instruction That Works, 2013
by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, Howard Pitler and Bj Stone, ASCD