As an education major in college, we were drilled in lesson design. As a classroom teacher, home-schooler, play director, coach, and group leader, I’ve designed and taught many lesson plans. As a substitute teacher, I’ve followed other educators plans. From these experiences, I developed my own format of lesson plan, based upon my education and experience.
I will share my rubric for designing a lesson and teaching it. I will also list do’s and don’ts that will be helpful to anyone who guides, teaches or coaches students. This rubric will work for teachers, scout leaders, sports coaches, 4H leaders, Sunday School leaders and any one who works or volunteers with students of any age.
1) Know your group: age, ability level, prior instruction, dynamics (how they interact together), experience.
2) Know your time frame. How much time do your have? What is the schedule of events? How does this fit in the format of the day? You need to establish how much time you will have, but also what factors will affect students’ ability to concentrate.
3) Talk with them, not at them. Treat students like collaborators on a project or fellow researchers. Speak to them with dignity and encourage pride in their work.
3) Connect with students. Make an effort to know students by name. Assess your class and see how receptive, interested or engaged they are. Watch for two kinds of students: unruly or withdrawn. Both of these will need to be monitored. The unruly will disturb the lesson and the withdrawn won’t get it. Here’s how to manage both kinds:
Unruly–Don’t let them run the show and interrupt. You be in charge. This makes everyone more comfortable and shows them what to expect. Never yell, demand or argue with a student. Just give them a choice. If they interrupt, ask them to sit out and show kids how to ignore and keep going. Don’t let them distract you from your purpose. Give the cooperative ones your attention.
Withdrawn–Bring them nearer to you and help them to feel comfortable. Don’t coddle, just try to keep them focused.
4) Establish your purpose. Is it to: teach a dance step, soccer move, write a letter, analyze a novel, conduct an experiment, or map Europe, etc. Tell students what you are going to work on. Stay focused on that purpose. If you stay on-task, students will also. They will comprehend the material better also.
5) Begin the lesson with something that gets their attention and lets them know what direction you’ll be going. You can demonstrate something or pass around an object. This is a time for some review, but don’t spend too much time rehashing if they got it well before. If they were a bit confused, try to review, but in a new way.
You can also ask an engaging question, or recall something they can relate to. We call some of these ‘text-to-text’, ‘text-to-life’ or ‘text-to-self- connections. We also used to call it ‘accessing prior knowledge’ or the ‘anticipatory set’ which meant finding out what they know about what you will teach. How can you relate what you have read, studied, or done before to what you will do now?
For example: Math: ‘We multiplied fractions last week and you all did really well. (do a quick review) Today, we will divide fractions and I promise, you’ll love it! It’s just like multiplying and it’s so easy!’ Social Studies: ‘We will go on a virtual tour (reading in the book- but give it a fun name) of Ethiopia today. What are some ways our life may differ from their’s? (Text -to-self) Science Please pass these rock samples around and let’s decide which group they belong to.’
6) Demonstrate what students need do. Use as many hands-on, interactive materials and activities as possible. Listen to them and let them respond.
7) Be responsive and helpful. If they have a worksheet do a few with them. If they need to imitate something, show them step by step what to do. Help as much as possible.
8) Check each student’s grasp of the concept. Make suggestions and provide specific feedback. Don’t embarrass or be judge mental. Call other students’ attention to individuals who seem to ‘get it’. Try to share something positive from as many students as possible. For example: Writing “I’m seeing such depth in these Haiku’s that you are writing. May I share some?
9) Assign independent practice. When most of the students have the hang of what to do, let them practice on their own or in groups as appropriate. This gives some time to help those who may be struggling.
10) If homework is assigned, be sure that it is interesting and appropriate. If they didn’t get it, more of the same won’t help. If they were beginning to catch on, some extra practice will help, but don’t throw in lots of extraneous things that have nothing to do with the lesson. If they got it, a little practice might solidify the concept, but lots more of the same will just be dull and annoying.
Lastly, be prepared, organized, professional and adaptable. And don’t be too hard on yourself. Even the best plan just may not work as expected. Do your best and have fun!