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Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Lesson Plans

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Do our lesson plans need to be so detailed?

What is a teaching lesson plan?

A lesson plan is a teacher’s detailed description of the individual components of a lesson.    A lesson plan maps out the “learning trajectory” for a lesson.  It helps guide the teacher to guide class learning.  Details will vary depending on the preference of the teacher, subject being covered, and the needs of the learners.    Lesson planning (or Teaching Plans) can really help make your teaching sessions successful in terms of educational impact.    If you define the Aims and Intending Learning Outcomes (ILOs), you can then design the individual components to ensure you are delivering on the ILOs.     Without a Teaching or Lesson Plan, educational sessions can become unstructured, chaotic and go off plan!

Many educational institutions emphasise the need for lesson or teaching plans from its teachers.  As a result, many teachers end up a dislike for them and become complacent in doing them.    To stop this from happening to you, try and think of Lesson/Teaching Plans as a process of helping your thought process and making your session work rather than a form-filling exercise.   

What makes a successful teaching lesson plan?

Lesson or Teaching Plans are easy to do if

  1. You understand and define your Intending Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
  2. You understand the content required for those ILOs
  3. You understand the variety of educational methods you can use to teaching the same thing
  4. You carefully ensure that every component maps to the ILOs  (Constructive Alignment)
  5. And finally, you build in rest periods and energising activities to enable learning to easily embed itself.

What to think about when developing your teaching lesson plan

Identify the Aims and Intending Learning Outcomes (ILOs).   Otherwise your session will be unstructured and many of your learners (and even you) will end up losing track of where you are at any one point.   So, get to know your learners, and spend some time identifying what they already know and work out their strengths and weaknesses.  From this, you should be able to map out their learning needs and from that, develop your Aims and ILOs.    Remember to triangulate your data to ensure you build up a full and reliable picture.

  1. Where are the leanrers starting from?
  2. Where do you want the learners to get to?
  3. How will you know when they are there?
  4. How can you best help them get there?

How can I arouse their interest?  Make sure ILOs are highly relevant.  You may need an activity or ice-breaker game to energise them.   

  • First of all, keep the Intending Learning Outcomes (ILOs) or objectives simple!      Too many objectives means you’re trying to cover too much and you may push the learners into cognitive overload where they then disengage, lose interest and can’t wait for your session to be over!  There is a lot to learn. It’s better to focus on one or two elements that you want to practice and refine in this lesson, than to try to cram in everything you’ve learnt so far and not really do any of them properly.
  • What educational methodologies will you use?  Try and use a variety of methods to keep the session alive and dynamic and to cater for the different preferences of learning within your audience.   Some activities keep people really engaged – like role-play and demonstrations.
  • Try and challenge them.  If there’s no challenge then there’s no learning. If there’s no learning, there’s no motivation. Think about what they already know and make sure your lesson isn’t just teaching them the same thing.
  • Everything on your plan should be educational. If you don’t know what an activity is teaching the learners then take it off your plan.
  • Build in ice-breakers and educational games – to keep their mojo going. 

Map out the activities and their timings.  Don’t be so rigid with timings.  Allow flexibility because there’s always something unexpected that hijacks a bit of time.

Again, list these for each activity.   If you have an administrator, be clear about what you need.

  • If you have an administrator, again be clear about this.  Do you want tables removed?  Do you just want chairs in little circles.
  • What about the flip chart, and working pens – how many?
  • What about IT needs – laptop, cables, remote stick.
  • Remember to allow time for preparation, action and reviewing.
  • When will refreshment breaks be.   When is lunch.  You can never have too many breaks!

If there is more than one educator helping you out in the session, this is usually a mist.

  • If you’re not sure if an activity will work; if you think it’s too hard or too long then take time before the lesson, at the planning stage, to think about how to resolve any problems that could arise.
  • Problems could be activity related or time-table related, learner-related or even teacher-related.
  • Taking those extra minutes when planning to think about possible solutions could avoid you having a disastrous lesson.

Do your lessons have stickability

I got this from teachertoolkit.com and he says stickability is a person’s ability to persevere with something; staying power.   So, ask yourself, do your lessons have “staying power”?  If not, how can you increase stickability?   ‘Stickability’ is fundamentally what learning and lesson planning should be all about. ‘Outstanding’ lessons focus on ‘the learning’ and not ‘the activity’.  With relation to lesson planning, it can be defined as the following:

  1. What is the fundamental aspect of the lesson, you need students to learn?
  2. What key skill, knowledge or understanding, should students grasp?
  3. What should students leave your classroom knowing/understanding?
  4. What should students return to class knowing/understanding?
  5. Why should this ‘stick’ with students?
  6. How will you make it stick?

More on stickability here…

How to use a lesson plan


How to use a lesson plan

Have a lesson plan template that you can just fill in and print off.
Have your plan to hand at all times during the lesson.
Tick the activities that worked well as you do them.
Make any extra comments at the end of the lesson about what worked and what didn’t to help you plan your next lesson.

Please leave a comment if you have a tip, spot an error, spot something missing or have a suggestion for a web resource.
And of course, if you have developed a resource of your own, please email it to me to share with others.

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