How do I write a lesson plan?

“Begin with what you want your students to know or have done by the end of the class. Then, construct a class that gets you there.

“I like to think that a class should be some combination of direct instruction (you talking), active learning (them doing), and summary and direction (telling them or asking them to talk about what this class period had to do with the paper they are currently working on).

“Always begin with where you want the class period to end.”

“I write a goal, the homework they did the night before & problems/ideas/nifty finds to talk about… and what we’re doing next.  I always start with “questions on the table now..” and end with “ok, where are we going next?”

“What do you want them to know, and how are you going to get there?  How does the class contribute to the next paper assignment? I settle on some activities, and I make lists with time estimates next to them.”

“Gotta figure out how much structure you need in order to do this well.  Personally, I cannot deal with lesson plans that break classes down into 10 or 15 minute chunks.  It’s too restrictive.  BUT, for beginning teachers, the act of writing a lesson plan will benefit you greatly.  Writing the lesson plan will make you think through your class in a thorough way.  Don’t go in thinking that they’ll just ‘discuss the reading’ and that will be it, because that day they’ll all be silent and you’ll be scrambling for something to do.”

“When I was a new teacher I wrote every detail down, even like ‘be sure to look at the students’ and ‘write this on the board.’ These days, my plans have a routine to them, like when I walk in, the first thing I do is write the assignment for the next class on the board—whatever it is—and make sure everyone understands that assignment, and then move on to other activities:  writing something, sharing, discussing the reading, spending time talking about the upcoming essay.  I find it really valuable when an essay is coming due to ask who has concerns/worries/fears and what they are.  When a student raises her hand and says, ‘I just can’t get started,’ I ask other students to give her advice.  There will always be someone with some great ideas for getting started.  If not, you can add your two cents, but it always means more (and will be paid more attention) coming from a peer.  Just think in terms of what needs to happen today and map out two or three or four sections of class, maybe some writing, some group work, some discussion, etc.”

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