Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you: teaching is hard work. Having taught myself, I can attest to the difficulty of planning an effective lesson with little to no wasted time. A quality teacher must balance an array of considerations: the level of students, their interests, their attention spans, and of course the teaching requirements regarding what the students must know at the end of the course.
Here are a few tips for creating an engaging lesson that accomplishes your teaching goals.
One of the biggest challenges to lesson planning is time management. A lot of teachers learn this lesson the hard way. For example, you have a 60-minute class but you’ve wrapped up all your planned activities by minute 45. What do you do next?
You can’t just sit there for 15 minutes, wasting both your own time and the students’, running out the clock. Similarly, resorting to hangman or other games is sub-optimal compared to a well-designed lesson that targets the material and engages students fully.
So how do you manage your time? First, when you’re planning classroom activities in your planner, you should a lot a certain amount of time for each. For example, 5 minutes for a warm-up game of your choice, then 10 minutes for homework collection/review, 10 minutes for a quiz, 15 minutes for pair work, etc. Keep an eye on the clock as you move through the lesson.
If you feel you need more time for anyone activity, simply deduct the time you will spend on an activity further on in the lesson. Sometimes using a stopwatch is helpful.
Occasionally, you may find yourself struggling to remember exactly what happened in a previous class, especially if there has been an extended break since you last saw your students. To prevent this issue, check out the updated list of 10 best teacher planners reviewed on Getlifeyoudesire. Carefully and meticulously keeping notes about anything that you think you might not remember will prevent embarrassing mistakes and enable you to plan your next lesson better.
Jot down anything important like individual students that may be struggling, students’ responses to particular activities so that you can either avoid them or include them more often in your classes, and assignments you give them as homework.
Build Your Foundation First
Lesson planning works the same way as building a house – you have to construct the foundation first. Before you develop specific activities or look for videos to use in class, you should first consider what information you want to convey exactly.
5-Step Lesson Plans
Feeling lost when you first begin lesson planning is understandable. Like any skill, making the most out of your time with students takes some practice. For beginners, using a 5-step template can help a lot.
The basic five steps include:
• Anticipatory Step
• Introduction of New Material
• Guided Practice
• Independent Practice
This is a logical flow of recap from the previous class, introducing new material, and finally allowing the students to practice using their new knowledge independently.
Videos, audio, songs, images, and other forms of media are great ways to break up long class periods, grab attention, and drive home messages. While relying on these resources too much can be a bad thing, effectively using short video or audio clips to supplement your teaching can really boost the knowledge retention of students and make them think about what they’ve learned in a new way.
Accessing free, engaging videos through sites like YouTube has never been easier.
Encourage Active Participation Instead of Passive Listening
Everyone has probably sat through a class as a student where the teacher drones on and on and the front of a lecture monotonously. Maintaining concentration in an unstimulating environment like that for an extended period is simply impossible, especially for younger students.
For example, rather than simply teaching a Shakespeare play and having students regurgitate analysis, you might have them instead create their own version of the literature set in their own lives. Not only does this increase the relatability of the content, it also reinforces critical thinking skills.
Customize Your Lesson Based on Students’ Interests
Effective lesson planning comes down to how well the students react to your teaching. Even the best-laid plans, in the wrong context, can fail. What are your students’ long-term goals? What motivates them? Is there a way to reach them?
Finding a way to relate the content you’re teaching to their real lives might spark an interest in a subject that a student previously found boring. For example, if a student is interested in cars and you’re teaching chemistry, why not spend a portion of some class time discussing the role that NO can play in boosting engine performance?
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