One of the things that students can quickly pick up on in a lesson is whether the teacher has prepared their material or is winging it, which makes planning a lesson a prerequisite for teachers.
As any jazz aficionado will tell you, improvisation can be a positive thing. With that said, good planning is still central to classroom success. After all, effective lessons must have a context, clear objectives, key points, and a defined set of actions to take.
While planning a class is important for any teacher, it is especially so for teachers who want to change their methodology and incorporate new technologies in the classroom for the first time, or for those with little experience.
However, even if you have years of experience and subject familiarity, it’s still important that you review your lesson structure every so often to get the best results.
How to Plan a Class: The 5-Minute Lesson Plan
Planning a lesson can be time consuming without a certain degree of structure.
To help keep you focused, we’ve put together our version of what’s become known as the “5-Minute Lesson Plan” – an extremely useful template that will help you focus on what’s really important when planning a lesson, no matter what level your teaching at.
Although it may be called the 5-Minute Lesson Plan, this doesn’t mean that your brand-new lesson plan will be good to go 5 minutes from now – after all, anything worth doing takes time. Rather, the idea here is to use the process repeatedly until you become familiar with how it works. Once you’ve done this, the plan will then (and only then) earn its name and – regardless of the lesson ahead – you’ll have a template that will help you structure great classes within 5 minutes.
Click the play button on the mind map template below to view the stages of lesson planning.
The plan was originally popularized by the British professor Ross Morrison McGill (@TeacherToolkit). Its effectiveness is attested to by the fact that it’s been downloaded more than 300,000 times by professors from more than 140 countries worldwide.
Our twist on the 5-minute lesson plan phenomenon is simple: by recreating the template as a mind map, you can copy and edit the plan so that it lines up with your own specific needs. If you’re not already a GoConqr member, don’t worry – simply sign up for free (it’s quick and painless) and get your 5-minute lesson plan mind map now.
Once you have it, you’ll want to get started right away, so here’s a quick overview to help get you up and running:
• The big picture: How does the lesson in your program for the subject? How much do students already know about it? What connections can you make? Describe the lesson in 30 seconds!
• Purpose: Your objectives for the lesson. Remember to follow the lead of previous lessons. Ideally, you should incorporate at least 2 different objectives – you can even consider allowing students to choose their own objective so they feel more involved.
• Hook: What is the hook of the lesson? How do you grab the attention of students and still convey the lesson? You do not need a specific hook in each lesson, but having one is certainly recommended. Having a good introductory story is often a successful way of ‘hooking’ your students.
• Key issues: What will remain in the minds of students once they’ve left school and returned home? What are the key points that you want them to remember?
• Assessment for learning: How will you measure your students’ progress so that they’re where you want them to be? What strategies and assessment tools are you going to use?
• Individualization: How are you going to divide the class into groups? Plan activities for each group before taking into account the different levels of student progress.
• Learning episodes: What will happen in the classroom from start to finish? Try to identify learning opportunities that are student-led, the more the better. The lesson can have as many stages and elements as it needs.
How to Plan a Class: The Hook
Out of the things to consider from the previous sections, the one that causes most headaches for teachers is the “hook”.
Regardless of how your classes are structured, you’re probably used to determining the key points, methods and assessment tools with relative ease but … the hook?
Well, consider the following:
A friend of mine lives in London, right next to a busy railway line. Every morning when the first trains bustle, hum and sputter to life, the noise can be almost deafening. But my friend has lived there for years, so he no longer even pays any attention to the early morning clamor of the trains.
Yet a small rustling in the kitchen is enough to wake him up immediately.
There’s a principle there (somewhere!) that can be applied to education too. The brain filters out information it feels is no longer relevant, but leaps to life when it encounters something that’s new and relevant.
The section of our brain responsible for this is called the reticular formation. This consists of a number of nuclei that act as sentries, so to speak, that alert the conscious mind to sensory signals that are perceived as being important.
Things that happen repeatedly eventually become part of a routine, which often means that the sentries don’t give these this access to conscious part of our brain. In other words, the brain simply stops paying them attention.
If your lessons always develop in the same way and lack that hook – something capable of grabbing a student’s attention – then the important information is in danger of going unheeded.
So when planning a class, always take a moment to reflect on what the hook is and how you can get the attention of students.
How to Plan a Class: Your Turn
Ok, so you have the plan and you know how to use it – now it’s time to take action!
Have a think about how you can plan a class using the template we’ve provided and then work on making it your own. Once you’ve done so, be sure to share your creations with us, and with your fellow teachers too.
Sign up for free and start creating your own Mind Maps, Flashcards, Slides, Quizzes and more.
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