Lesson Planning Advice

Guided Practice students, I have a question.  What has been the most challenging aspect of guided practice so far?  If some of you answered, “lesson planning,” you would not be alone. I, too, found lesson planning to be daunting, especially when my cooperating teachers and I wanted me to learn as much as possible about assembling materials and forming a road map I would follow to deliver a lesson or unit.  It can be confusing when you are not sure how to start.  By the end of my first semester of student teaching, however, my cooperating teacher told me she felt my lesson planning was top-notch and my guided practice instructor felt the same.  Because of that feedback, I thought I would write a post sharing with you my strategy for lesson planning.  You may have some tips for me as well.  I would love to read them!

Start from where the students are.

Often, your cooperating teacher will give you the general idea to cover.  For instance, your coop might suggest you do a lesson or unit on poetry.  Once the teacher gives you the idea, you need to find out where the students are cognitively, psychologically, and socially.  Some questions you can ask are

  • What have the students learned about poetry in previous grades?
  • What are the reading levels of the students?
  • Do the students like poetry?  Do you know what kind?
  • Do they like related arts, such as music?
  • Are the students enthusiastic writers and / or readers?
  • Do the students like to debate / discuss things in classroom discussion?
  • Will the students be able to understand subtle metaphors and similes or should the poems be more straightforward?
  • How should I differentiate instruction?

Assemble the standards that apply to this lesson or unit.

  • In Pennsylvania, teachers can refer to the website “Clear Standards” to find the standards that apply.  I am sure other states have something similar.
  • From the standards, you may find out what aspects of poetry the students are expected to master.  That will help you to gather materials.
  • If the teacher uses a particular literature book, you should use it too.  The students are most comfortable with that text by now.  Some of the textbooks even align the standards to the lessons for you.

Gather Materials

I can only give advice to Language Arts teachers, unfortunately, but perhaps those of you who teach other subjects will find this interesting.  Google is the best place to start looking for materials for your lesson if your teacher’s textbooks do not work out for you.  Here are some sites that have helped me in the past.

Assemble your lesson plan.

Here are the items I included in each lesson plan:

  • Learning outcomes: These are the standards mentioned previously
  • Objectives of the lesson: These reflect what you wish to accomplish with your students. For tips on writing objectives that are aligned to Bloom’s Taxonomy, click here.
  • Content: This is a brief description of what the lesson or unit will cover that includes the materials used to create the lesson or unit.
  • Characteristics of the learners: This section provides the reader with a general snapshot of where learners are cognitively, psychologically, and socially at a particular age.
  • Pre-requisite skills: This section outlines what students should already know before this lesson or unit.
  • Connections to the curriculum
  • Learning Theory connections: In this section, reflect on the learning theory or theories you are using to build this lesson or unit.
  • Materials
  • Learning Sequence: Outline what you will work on day-by-day.
  • Assessment strategies
  • Artifacts
  • References

If you would like a copy of a lesson plan I created to teach the students poetic devices related to sound, please leave a comment and I will get one to you.  I would love to read your thoughts on what I have shared with you.

Fight on!