The ability to effectively plan lessons is essential to teaching. But, for many, planning lessons can quickly take up a lot of your time and become a task you don’t look forward to.
Integrate these lesson planning methods, tips and ideas into your day and see what a difference a fresh approach can make!
Think about the lesson’s overall aims
Are you unsure where to start with a new lesson plan? First, think of the bigger picture.
A simple way to begin is to consider what the overall aims of the lesson are. What is it you want your students to know, understand and be able to do by the end of the session? List these main points and you might find that there are obvious lesson activities that can be used to teach these. If you don’t get a sudden wave of inspiration, you now have a core place to build upon.
Every teacher has a different working style and they excel in different areas. Certainly, some teachers always seem to be more organised than others! Organisation, though, is definitely a skill that can benefit every teacher.
Create your own personal timetable of when you will plan lessons. Having a designated time to dedicate to planning lessons will stop you from trying to squeeze the task into any free time you have and will prevent you from putting it off.
Organisation also involves knowing exactly what you need to complete before going into a task. For example, when you begin a lesson plan, you know you need to understand the curriculum, understand lesson objectives and build lesson activities around these. Finding your own mental and practical routine of lesson planning will make the task more efficient and easier over time.
Find out how your students like to learn
You don’t have to just guess what your students will enjoy doing in their lessons… you can ask them!
Make a questionnaire to find out what lesson activities each of your classes find most academically useful and fun. It can include open and closed questions such as ‘Do you find pop quizzes useful for understanding a topic?’, ‘Do you prefer watching videos on a topic or completing practical tasks?’ or ‘Would you like to spend more time doing group work?’, for example.
Of course, you do not need to base your lesson plans entirely on the answers they provide. You’re the trained teacher who knows what they need to learn! However, your students’ answers can provide you with an idea of what will maximise their engagement throughout each session.
Cater to different learning styles
Related to how your students want to learn, you need to know how your students effectively learn.
Everyone is a different kind of learner. Some people are kinaesthetic learners, meaning they acquire information best through practical tasks, some people are visual learners, meaning they learn best through watching, some people are auditory learners, meaning they remember information when they have listened to it and some people are reading/writing learners, meaning they need to note information down to retain it.
To maximise equality of learning in your classroom, consider how you can form build tasks catering to each of these in each lesson plan you make.
Seek out multimedia resources
Technological advancements mean there are so many more ways to learn than just reading books!
One easy option is videos. On the internet there will be countless fun, educational, age-appropriate videos on whatever topic you are teaching. Playing these to the class not only breaks up and adds variety to the lesson but invites students to engage with a new medium, after which they can discuss in groups what they have learned or answer questions on it.
Other activities using technology include interactive quizzes. Tools like Kahoot!, Socrative Student and Quizizz allow you to broadcast live questions to whole classes, creating an exciting testing activity which will bring out more competitive spirit in your students than a simple answer sheet.
Relate the lesson to the real world
Students are more likely to engage with subject matter if they can empathise with it.
A history lesson has more impact if you compare the events you are teaching to something that is happening in the news today. A maths lesson becomes a whole lot more fun if you take acronyms like ‘BIDMAS’ or take complex equations and sing them to the tunes of recent popular pop songs!
Get students to make their own resources
One activity to implement in lessons is students making their own study materials. Take them to a computer lab and get them to make PowerPoint presentations on a topic they have been studying or ask them to make quizzes featuring questions about the topic.
This not only saves you time (you don't need to make these learning and revision resources yourself if your students’ are good enough!), but it makes students practically engage with the subject matter they are learning. They will also enjoy watching their fellow classmates learn from and complete the end learning products they have made!
Be open to deviating from the lesson plan
As you know, lessons do not always go exactly to plan. Learning could be disrupted by a misbehaving student or maybe your class just isn’t picking up a topic as fast as you thought they would.
It is important to be open and flexible. Have a couple of extra back-up tasks ready to be used if you find your lesson plan is not going to fill the whole session and be prepared to push back certain tasks to the next lesson.
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