Lesson Planning 101

768095_studyOn this post, Karen comments:

I need help. I’ve been teaching in NYC alternative high school for 9 years. I can’t get my act together. I can’t plan lessons, it just seems like such torture. my mentor(thank you UFT) keeps telling me to keep the objective in mind…well, I can’t seem to do it, am I in the Dip or am i just a dip? I don’t know where I would go if I didnt teach, but how can I get 20 lesson plans written each sunday? I can’t keep it straight, any suggestions?

Before I respond, I think you are in the Dip and need to press in a little bit further. You’ve made it through the tough part. Just a little bit more and the light at the end of the tunnel will appear!

I think the primary question here is How can I get 20 lesson plans written each Sunday? Now I don’t know what most people out there do regarding lesson planning, but here’s the basic process I would work on refining to your own situation:

  1. Come up with one main objective to learn this week
    The more focused my lessons are, the more retention the students will have. I know a lot of people preach the value of being able to multitask and I admit the ability to do it is helpful; but at the same time, multitasking is one of the quickest ways to dilute our effectiveness.
  2. Determine which skills are required to complete the main objective
    Throughout the course of the week, I will gear each class period toward mastery (or being closer than before) of the main objective. I may adapt my classroom warmup activities to correlate with the direction we’re heading. For my band class, this may mean we play all of our exercises in the same key or all the music features the same rhythm.
  3. If possible, relate the objectives in all of the classes you teach
    If you have different level classes in the same grade, see if you can teach the same concept on different levels. For instance a social studies teacher might be able to teach about the cultural impact that World War II had on Germany at the same time as another class is learning about the culture of the U.S. during the American Revolution. If you teach different subjects, as much as possible interrelate the subjects to align with your main objective.
  4. Sometimes you will have to teach things that are different, but find similarities
    The human brain finds patterns even when we don’t realize it. See if you can work to weave a few seemingly unrelated concepts together and have them move toward one main objective.
  5. Make a game out of the lesson planning
    Challenge the students to find the common thread through your lessons. This will require you to get more and more creative, but it will also make it more fun for you as you try to focus on one objective while making it more difficult for the students to figure out what your goal is.
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I’m no lesson-planning expert by any means, but this is more or less how I interpret the advice you’re telling me you’ve been given.

Another thing, don’t wait to do all of your lesson planning on Sundays. I would do it throughout the week, which means you’ll probably need to work to reduce paperwork and work only at work and as much as possible, don’t take work home.

So what kinds of things do other “real teachers” do with their lesson planning? Would this routine even work in a “real classroom?” Ha. Comment below…

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

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