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Mastering the Art of Lesson Planning

Mastering the Art of Lesson Planning offers teaching professionals a template for constructing lesson plans that foster effective instruction. Learn how to write clear learning objectives, gather engaging instructional materials, design effective assessment methods and incorporate student-centered learning into the mix.

Understand how to use task-based instruction, shifting the focus from language forms to real-life communicative tasks. Include various critique methods to support collaborative discussion and student self-reflection.

Objectives Setting

A lesson should be planned with a clear set of learning objectives. This will help teachers apportion classroom time wisely to ensure that students master the lesson's content (Duchastel, 1979).

These objectives can be content or language-based. A content objective would be the information you are teaching in a lesson, such as a math concept or scientific theory. A language objective could be the academic language functions that students must master in order to access grade-level content.

A good lesson also includes an anticipatory set to launch the lesson, and a closing section that provides further meaning for the lesson concepts. This helps students organize the lessons they have learned into meaningful contexts in their minds. This can be accomplished through a group discussion, a class-wide survey, or even asking students to summarize the main points of the lesson on paper.

Material Preparation

When planning lessons, teachers need to determine what materials are needed for the class. This includes preparing any books, resources, or tools that may be needed for students to complete the lesson. This also helps to decide if any demonstrations are necessary for students to understand a concept.

Educators need to be mindful of their students' needs and consider how a new topic will be introduced to them. For example, if an educator is teaching content to ELLs they need to be sure that new content is introduced slowly and with support to help students access it.

The next element to consider is how the topic will be taught directly to the students. This can include methods such as reading a book, showing diagrams, or using real-life examples of the subject matter.

Timing Considerations

Regardless of subject, students learn best when lessons are well-paced. Developing lesson plans that engage students and ensure they have opportunities to access grade-level content takes time and practice, but it can be worth the effort.

Teachers should consciously consider how much time to devote to each component of a lesson. Lessons that go overly long are often unsuccessful. Conversely, lessons that move too fast often lack depth.

Carefully scripting questions in advance can also impact lesson pacing. Inexperienced teachers tend to rely on questioning as an instructional strategy, but poorly-crafted questions can stifle pacing and lead to instruction that feels rushed and unfocused. Taking the time to plan carefully-scripted questions increases the likelihood that a teacher will stay on track and successfully meet a lesson’s learning objectives.

Engagement Hooks

A good lesson begins with a strong hook that engages students from the get-go. Otherwise, students will be distracted, mentally wander, and turn their attention away from learning altogether.

The most engaging lesson hooks are creative, unexpected, and thought-provoking. They also appeal to all five senses, including auditory stimuli such as a soundtrack that matches the content being taught (for example, for a science lesson on pollination, use the sound of birdsong) or kinesthetic, such as an opinion meter or having students touch objects linked to the topic—say, a box of spaghetti noodles and peeled grapes to learn about figurative language.

Follow a lesson plan with an effective closing activity to help students reflect on their learning and solidify understanding. Discover closure strategies that include exit slips, journaling, and group discussion.

Reflection Time

Reflective thinking allows students to pause in the chaos, untangle experiences and observations, consider multiple possible interpretations, and make meaning. That meaning can then inform future mindsets and actions.

Reflection can be done in any number of ways, whether it’s writing in a journal, talking with a colleague, or sitting and staring at the sky. But the key is to make it a regular practice.

As you incorporate reflection time into your lessons, consider how it can be used to promote critical thinking and the artmaking process. For example, ask students to analyze the rules and patterns of constructing comparative and superlative sentences in order to identify what language structures are most effective for them in a given situation. Providing them with opportunities to reflect on their own performance and progress can also lead to improved self-efficacy.

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