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10 Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning for the Upcoming School Year

Effective lesson planning is the foundation for a successful and engaging learning experience. As the new school year approaches, it’s time to supply your teaching station with lesson plans that maximize student learning and achievement. In this article, we will explore ten strategies that can help you create dynamic lessons that cater to diverse student needs, foster active engagement, and achieve desired learning outcomes.

1. Zero in on Learning Objectives

Take time to remind yourself of the learning objectives for your subject and grade level. Review the curriculum guidelines, scope, and sequence documents even if you’ve read them before. Something new might jump out at you. Make sure you know what students are expected to learn throughout the year and stay focused on those objectives as you plan. 

2. Don’t Waste Time on What They Know

You have limited time, and you need to make the most of it. Before diving into new concepts, assess students’ prior knowledge. Diagnostic assessments and pre-assessment activities can help you identify what students already know and understand. By leveraging their existing knowledge base, you can move forward faster, address gaps, and make connections to new concepts.

3. Set Tangible Benchmark Skills

Tell the students what you need them to be able to do. Establishing clear and specific learning goals is essential to provide students with a sense of purpose. Clearly define those skills, and make sure they are measurable, allowing you to assess student progress effectively.

4. Collect Your Favorite Resources

Before the school year starts, make a master spreadsheet of your favorite resources, games, and strategies. Incorporate a variety of teaching methods, such as group discussions, hands-on activities, and multimedia presentations. List websites, podcasts, music, and videos that can enhance your lessons and provide interactive learning opportunities.

5. Plan Multiple Approaches to New Concepts

Students have unique needs and learning styles, so don’t assume one lesson will get everyone up to speed. Some kids need to hear it; some need to see it happen. Recognize and embrace the differences in your classroom. Adapt your lesson plans to accommodate options for a couple of different learning styles as needed. 

6. Find the Right Sequence

To prevent overwhelming students, break down your lessons into manageable chunks. Organize content in a logical sequence, starting with foundational concepts and gradually building on them. But only focus on one or two objectives at a time. Chunking the material helps students grasp complex ideas in bite-sized portions that are easier to understand and retain.

7. Use a Few Different Assessment Styles

Do you have a plan for gathering ongoing feedback? Use multiple methods such as class discussions, quizzes, and observations to gauge student understanding from different angles. You can also try out a variety of options for constructive feedback to see which one students respond best to.

8. Set Up Real-World Connections

Relate the content to students’ lives, experiences, and interests. Show them how the concepts they’re learning have practical applications in the real world. Try inviting guest speakers or making a list of pop culture references that will catch their attention. What are they dealing with right now? By making these connections, you can increase student engagement and foster a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

9. Get Students Moving and Talking

Engaged students are more likely to retain information and enjoy learning. In your lesson planning, remember to include hands-on activities, group work, and interactive discussions. Encourage students to ask questions, express their thoughts, and collaborate with peers. Get students up and walking around or excited to participate in something that matters to them. 

10. Keep Track of Changes for Next Year

After each lesson, take a quick second to reflect on how effective the lesson was. Make a quick note about what worked well and what could be improved. What did the students say about it? You may not do this lesson again until next year, but by then, you don’t remember the specifics. Quick notes will help jog your memory down the line. 

The Ultimate Lesson Planning Hack

While students love lesson plans that are exciting and new, they also thrive on a schedule. So find ways to create patterns in your lesson planning. Give them routines they can depend on that stay the same from lesson to lesson. And make sure you communicate those expectations and outcomes—trust your students enough to give them the information they need to thrive. 

Written by Rachel Jones
Education World Contributor
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