Creating An Effective Lesson Plan to Maximize Learning Outcomes
If you were to design a perfect lesson plan, what characteristics do you think it would contain? Lesson plans serve as a framework for the learning activities that will occur in a classroom every day. They should focus the class on specific learning objectives and maximize instructional time. The lesson plan is a tool that effective teachers use to ensure that each part of a lesson supports a specified learning objective and to ensure that the activities and time spent will lead students to master content and skills.
Sometimes teachers think they are creating an amazing lesson plan until it fails for many reasons, and they find out it wasn’t that amazing after all. There are many components of every lesson plan that are necessary, however, the motivation goal is by far the most important. What will your lesson plan contain that will motivate students to want to continue listening and ultimately learn what you set out to teach them?
Here are some basic teaching strategies you can use to deliver an effective lesson plan. These characteristics can be used at any grade and can be tailored to your specific class and community of learners.
. Have an Objective
This is one of the most important first steps to creating your lesson plan. What will students be able to do when you are done with your lesson? Having an objective for your lesson isn’t just important for you to know why you are teaching the lesson, but it’s important for the students to know why they need to learn what you are teaching them. As you are planning for your lesson, think about what you need your students to know, and what are they going to take away from your lesson. After you have figured this out, then you need to explain your objective to the students so they know why they need to learn what you are about to teach them. Try to offer real-word examples if you can. Often we can put these objectives on the board and they can be program into Language Objectives and Content Objectives (Social Studies, Math) as well.
. Have a Motivator Ready at the Beginning of Your Lesson
A motivator can be as simple as a fun poem or a video segment. It can also be a simple question that encourages class discussion. A class discussion will give you more background information (a student’s schema) and you may be able to alter your delivery of the lesson after getting a better feel for the overall background knowledge in the area you are teaching. A motivator at the onset of the lesson will grab the students attention to continue in your learning activity.
. Model Your Expectations
Before you begin your actual lesson, make sure that you teach and model your expectations for the lesson. For example, if you were teaching a science experiment, the first thing that you would do is show the students how to properly use the materials. You would also tell them the consequences of what would happen if they do not handle the materials properly. This type of modelling can be used in any lesson. For example, in a math lesson you can discuss the manipulatives that will be helping them achieve their goal and how they should and should not be used.
. Actively Engage Students
Children learn by doing, not just by hearing. Get your students engaged in the lesson by having them partake in hands-on activities and working with others in class (partners or groups). Use cooperative learning techniques, or technology like an iPad or a whiteboard to enhance your lesson. Keep their minds and hands moving and you’ll see that it will help you reach your lessons objective.
.Move Around the Clas
While students are busy applying the skills that you have taught them you need to be mobile and move around the classroom to make sure all students are keeping on track with what they are supposed to be doing. Take this time to answer any questions, give the children who may be off a task a gentle reminder, and scan the classroom to make sure all is going as planned. As you move about the classroom, ask students critical thinking questions to strengthen their comprehension skills. Use how and why questions to make sure that you are meeting your objective.
.Compliment Positive Behaviors
When you see a student paying attention, working hard, and doing what they are supposed to be doing to meet your goal, compliment them. Make sure that all students see you doing this, so they will understand why you are pleased and in turn try to meet your objective for the lesson in a positive way as well.
Once your lesson’s objective has been met, take a moment to reflect upon what had worked and what did not in your lesson. Make a note for next time you need to teach this lesson (next school year) or review a concept (next week). Look for any patterns that may have come up, or try to find what you were lacking in a particular area. Once you are armed with this knowledge of self-reflection, you can take that information and do something with it. You will find this type of self-reflection is extremely valuable in developing your skills as an educator. This deep understanding will only help your lessons become more effective.
Lesson planning provides time for the teacher to think through resources that will best capture the attention of students and choose learning activities that will clearly convey content required for students to meet the lesson objectives. Effective teachers use lesson plans as a reflective opportunity to make decisions on what activities will best meet the needs of students and to predict/plan reactions to student challenges. When teachers take the time to create detailed plans, they are more likely to present content and skills to students that are objective driven, well-paced, clear, and lead students to mastery of a skill.