Have you ever noticed how quickly educational trends change? Today the best program, fad, or technique is a must and even a requirement for teachers. A year or two later, take out the old and bring in the new. Teachers can soon become overwhelmed with keeping up. Writing lesson plans is one area this is obvious.
Dozens and dozens of strategies go into writing lesson plans. Here are a few:
- formal or informal
- direct instruction or non-directive
- whole class discussion or presentation
- social interactions such as role playing, cooperative learning groups, and study teams or individual self-directed study and personal projects
- inquiry-based instruction including simulations and games, concept attainment, and research or lecture with note-taking
- visual or auditory
- free-writing and brainstorming or research and outlining ideas
- deductive or inductive
Using different strategies to change lesson plans to meet the individual needs of students, teacher strengths, student learning styles, and content is a must. This is not the concern.
So, what IS the problem?
The problem is not with teaching methods but rather with the required format that must be turned in on a weekly basis. Teachers spend hours on Sunday afternoon creating detailed lessons. These paper laden plans must be checked by someone who will never see the lesson.
Do you remember Units of Practice (UOP)? This was the model to beat all models. Inservice training was provided for teachers to learn how to create lesson plans using this model. For a year, maybe two, evaluations were based on if teachers were creating lesson plans based on this model. Then this model was abandoned for the next, then the next, and the next.
Teachers should use planning time for planning. Researching creative ideas, gathering needed materials, setting up lessons, and a dozen other necessary steps to teach the lesson should be the focus. Writing pages of information using the ‘specific format of the day’ is a huge waste of valuable time.
Lesson Plans that Work
Teachers don’t need fads for creating lesson plans. Model lesson planning is out. It is not necessary to spend hours filling in a chart that contains a hundred plus points. Instead, time should be spent designing lessons that progress students through a series of levels from the basics to higher order skills.
Bloom developed this hierarchy of thinking skills in 1956. It is as widely used today as it was 64 years ago. Bloom and his collaborators grouped teaching objectives and skills into six levels. Using Bloom’s model, students start with learning the facts or rules. The updated term for this is ‘Remember.’ Students then move through more and more complex activities until they are able to generate, plan or produce something. The level is called ‘Creating.’
Learn more about HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) on this post.
Going from basic to complex has become the basis of other teaching models. The SAMR Model is an example of this. Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, SAMR is an acronym that stands for four levels in the technology integration progress. Similarly to Bloom’s Taxonomy, activities go through levels to encourage higher order thinking.
Substitution (Traditional teaching using technology instead of textbooks, worksheets, globes, etc.)
Augmentation (Enhance traditional lessons with technology.)
Modification (Significant redesign of the lesson is present.)
Redefinition (Students create new tasks or projects using technology.)
Five Step Lesson Plan Model
Are you wondering how to create a lesson plan that works? No, you don’t need a detailed chart. Stick to the 5 step model.
Hook (Engage students. Connect to prior learning. List lesson goals.)
Introduction (Provide direct instruction. Model new skills. Check for understanding.)
Guided Practice (Facilitate student work.)
Independent Practice (Assign classwork or homework.)
Closure (Summarize learning.)
Back to Bloom
Be sure the activities in the 5 step model progress in complexity. The best way to do this is to group activities.
- Remember and Understand (List things you know. Write a summary. Explain to a partner. Identify mistakes. Classify objects.)
- Apply and Analyze (Interpret a situation. Explain how the parts go together. Analyze information.)
- Evaluate and Create (Report on a topic. Write a creative essay. Design a poster. Draw a comic strip. Create an advertising campaign. Solve a problem. Explain strengths and weaknesses. Justify decisions. List criticisms.)
Do You Need Help Writing Lesson Plans?
Final advice. Keep the paperwork to a minimum. After all, lesson plans are merely guides. Think:
- Do I really need to list materials?
- Can I come up with higher order questions on my own? Do I need a list of questions?
- What is required by my administrators?
- Is it necessary to write out standards or will numbers do?
- Do I really need to write out a step-by-step guide?
Remember, teaching comes naturally for those in the profession. Let your heart be your guide.
Grab your free lesson plan templates. These Google Slides are editable. Lesson and weekly formats are available. This link takes you to templates.
Want to Learn More
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