Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this blog post by Rebekah Stathakis, author of A Good Start: 147 Warm-Up Activities for Spanish Class.
I find that breaks from school are a great time to reflect on my lessons and work on revising them to make them more effective for all of my learners. During the school year, I often jot down notes at the end of the day to record how my lessons went. When I have some spare time, I glance through my previous year’s lesson plan book and my notes to select a lesson (or even unit) that I know I can improve.
As I think about revising my lesson, I use the following questions to guide my thinking:
Why did I select this lesson? Why is this lesson not ideal? I try to honestly evaluate what is working or not working about a lesson. Once I have that in mind, I can keep the elements of the lesson that are effective and work on improving or changing other parts of the lesson.
Why is this important? Teaching middle school students, I often find that this is the first question they want answered. When I work on my lessons, I start by reminding myself of why I think the lesson is important for my students.
What is my goal for my students? What should they be able to do at the end of this lesson/unit? I begin planning by writing out my student objectives (what I want them to be able to do). When I share my objectives with students, I want them to understand exactly what they should be able to do so that they understand why these skills are important.
How does this fit in to the overall scope and sequence? To carefully craft a meaningful lesson, I need to make sure I understand where this lesson is situated in our curriculum.
What do students already know about this topic? How can I incorporate their prior knowledge? I find ways for students to share what they know and link what we are learning to what they already know.
How can I capture students’ interest? At the beginning of a unit/lesson, I want to pique the students’ interest and connect the topic with their lives. To do this, I often look for connections to popular culture or ways to create classroom situations where students will need to use what they will learn in the lesson.
How am I presenting the material? Is there a better way? I think about the instructional materials I am using and determine if there are more effective ways to provide instruction. For example, maybe I can help students discover the information through an experiment or case study.
What will the students be doing during the lesson? I want my students to be actively engaged in class; therefore, I focus on what exactly they will be doing during each lesson to be sure that they will be active participants during each part of the instruction.
Is there a different format I could use for this lesson? When revising lessons I think about a variety of classroom activities and formats. I brainstorm different types of activities that might be effective such as simulations, partner activities, games, jigsaw activities, or case studies.
How will I modify instruction to meet the needs of each learner? During the lesson, I plan for how I can provide extra support for the students who might struggle as well as how I can extend the lesson for students who need more of a challenge. Because students process information in different ways, I strive to instruct using a variety of learning styles.
How can I connect this with students’ lives and interests? I want my classroom to be meaningful and relevant, so I need to connect with students’ lives and interests and provide students with an opportunity to also make these connections.
Is there any technology that could improve this lesson? Many students are drawn to technology, and there are some new tools that can help engage students in meaningful learning experiences. For each lesson, I consider if there are technological tools that would improve the learning experience.
I look forward to spending time reflecting on how to be an effective educator and how to improve my lessons. I hope this list of questions helps you craft meaningful lessons, too.
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