Planning a Learning Session
- Consider the following questions:
- What do I expect students to be able to do by the end of the session?
- What knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes are required for success?
- How and when can students obtain theses things? (I.e., From a previous class? From previously assigned homework?)
What should my lesson plan include?
- Title that Indicates Main Topic(s) or Concept(s)
- Lesson-Level Learning Objectives
- Prerequisite Knowledge/Work Required
- Required Materials (for labs and activities)
- Teaching Behaviors and Learner Activities with time estimates
- What should you (the teacher) be doing?
- What should learners be doing?
- Learner Assessment(s)
- Upcoming Assignment(s) and Due Dates
- Notes (e.g., announcements, contingency plans, etc.)
- Explain how prior material informs this material
- Find a hook, if possible; tie the material to the real world
- Make learning objectives explicit
- Divide lectures into approximately 15-minute segments
- Intersperse these segments with student activity
- Allow time for students to formulate and pose questions
- Explain how the current material informs the next class
- Allow your learning objectives to refine the number of topics and subtopics you cover.
- Consider different organizational methods to help students meet your expectations:
- Topical (one topic, then theories/perspectives/subtopics, repeat)
- Causal (one problem, then causes, repeat)
- Sequential (temporal, developmental, narrative)
- Graphic (thematic, layered, zooming in or out)
- Structural (top-to-bottom vs. bottom-to-top, small to big vs. big to small)
- Problem-Solution (one problem, then solution(s), repeat)
- To free up class time, consider what students can do before class (as preparation) or after class (as practice) to assist them in their learning.
- Be as consistent and as explicit as possible. Tell students how you’re organizing information and be sure to let them know when you change that organization. E.g., “Normally, we do X. Today, we’re going to do things a bit differently because I think it will help you understand the current concepts better.”
How will I know that students got it?
- Use in-class assessments between lecture segments to give you and the students a break and also to help everyone assess what students are actually learning.
- Practice (questions, problems, scenarios, etc.)
- Quizzes (no-risk to low-risk)
- C.A.T.s (Classroom Assessment Techniques)
- S.E.E.I. (Statement, Elaboration, Example, Illustration)
- Use out-of-class assessments for complicated concepts that students may require time to absorb.
- Homework Assignments
- Longer written reports, reflective papers, essays, etc.
How can I revise and improve a lesson plan?
- During or immediately after class, make notes on your printed lesson plan about what went well, what failed, and what changes you will make next time.
- Consider questions like these:
- Did students reach my learning objectives for the session?
- Was the session too short or too long?
- What could I add or cut next time?
- What problems did the students have?
- What questions did they ask?
- How could I build solutions to these problems and questions into my revised plan?
- If things went badly, when do I think the problems began?
- Would the session have worked better if:
- the activities were reordered?
- the activities were different?
- I removed part of the session?
- the students had prepared differently?
- What would I do if no one had completed the reading?
- What would I do if most of the class failed the last quiz?
How can I maximize class time?
- Rehearse your lecture.
- Organize your materials in the order you’ll use them.
- Arrive early and have everything ready to go.
- Minimize the amount of class time devoted to set up.
- Have a contingency for technical difficulties.
- Stick to your plan as much as possible.
- Assess and revise for future iterations, not this one.
- Use the document camera for displaying student work.
- Eliminate the time it takes to rewrite examples on the board.
- Keep students in the same groups for multiple weeks.
- Minimize the time wasted by students “shuffling around.”
Example Lesson Plans and Approaches
- The Bullet Journal Approach: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2014/01/a-new-plan-for-lesson-planning/
- The Understanding by Design Approach
- A Sample Agenda for a Technical Communication Course
- A Sample Lesson Plan for a Pre-Nursing Microbiology Course
- A Sample Lesson Plan for a Sociology Course
- A Sample Lesson Plan for an Online Course in Cloud Computing
- Template for a Flipped Course Lesson Plan
Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Gross-Davis, B. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
IUPUI CTL (2012). Classroom assessment techniques. Retrieved August13, 2014 from: http://ctl.iupui.edu/Resources/Teaching-Strategies/Classroom-Assessment-Techniques-CATs
IUPUI CTL (2011). Tips for writing student learning outcomes. Retrieved August 13, 2014 from: http://ctl.iupui.edu/Resources/Planning-the-Learning-Experience/Writing-Student-Learning-Outcomes
IUPUI UITS (2013). Classroom technology support. Retrieved August 13, 2014 from: www.iupui.edu/~ctsin/installed/index.php
Kizlik, B. (2014). Lesson planning, lesson plan formats, and lesson plan ideas. Retrieved August13, 2014 from: http://www.adprima.com/lesson.htm
NERC (2007). Guide to writing learning objectives. Retrieved August 13, 2014 from: http://www.nerc.com/files/Instructional_guide_writing_Objectives.pdf
Svinicki, M., and W.J. McKeachie, eds. (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth-Cengage Learning.
Authored by James Gregory (August, 2014)
Revised by James Gregory (August, 2015)