7 Steps to Prepare an Exciting and Effective lesson plan. A well planned lesson can be described with two words: exciting and effective. In fact these two adjectives are interlinked as any lesson that is exciting for students will have some educational value and will be effective. This is because learning should essentially be associated with positive motivation, excitement and passion. So whatever is taught with these qualities in mind will stay with students for longer and will help them develop lifelong skills and attain knowledge.
However, there are a few traps that even experienced teachers often fall into. You want to cover the material you are expected to and giving it too much focus you forget about the fact that the lesson should be fun and exciting for your students to retain the knowledge and develop skills. The opposite is that you are trying too much to make your lessons fun without adequately planning the learning process for your students. Yes, they will still learn something by having fun but not necessarily that what you want them to learn. Therefore, you need to be careful when balancing your lesson planning to make sure they have fun and actually learn what you expect them to.
The following steps will help you organise the way you plan your lessons so that they are both appealing and effective.
Step 1 – Choose realistic learning goals
Before you begin planning you need to know what specific skills and knowledge you want your students to develop during one single lesson or unit. Making two separate lists helps to have a clear picture what you are trying to achieve, and it is also necessary as skills and knowledge are two completely different things. Teachers often focus too much on knowledge forgetting about developing skills which in a long term are more important than knowing mere facts. So don’t plan too much as it may be impossible to achieve. It’s much better to plan less and cover it adequately allowing your students enough time to digest and absorb new information their own way.
Step 2 – Pick exciting topics or learning contexts
Even if you have a curriculum to cover that tells you what specific topics to teach and they do not seem super interesting, try to find something unique and fascinating about them. There is always a way to make even the most boring topic appealing to your students. The best way to do so is to look for some meaningful connections between the topic and your students’ current interests. For example, a specific historical character might have had some unusual hobbies, little secrets, pets, toys or favourite songs that can seem funny or maybe even disgusting, repulsive or controversial. This might be a great starting point to build your lesson on.
Step 3 – Know your students’ needs and talents
This is an absolute must which will help you choose your learning goals, topics and teaching approaches adequately. You need to know well what your students are good at, what skills they need to develop, what fascinates them the most, and what their preferred learning styles are. Their special requirements related to disabilities, delays and special talents should be taken into consideration when you plan your lessons. Remember that you need to prepare your lessons with all your students in mind and that your main goal should be to meet their needs and offer them enabling environments to learn their preferred way.
Step 4 – Use a range of teaching approaches and methods
Choosing various methods of delivery will not only make your lessons more dynamic, but it will also facilitate the learning process as this way you are more likely to appeal to individual students’ preferences. One of the most effective and preferred approaches in modern teaching are experiential/hands-on learning, multi-sensory learning, collaborative learning, entrepreneurial education and project-based learning just to name a few. Introducing movement, music, discussions, brainstorming sessions, multimedia, projects or team work will help you cater for different learning styles, offer equal opportunities to all your students, and enable them to learn through their talents.
Step 5 – Select appealing resources
Whether you teach pre-school children or school students, they all are very tactile. This means they learn by touching and manipulating things and objects. So make sure you provide enough opportunities for your students to actually have their hands on various interesting objects and resources to facilitate the learning process. Accompanying your lessons with various audio-visual materials will additionally help your students make sense of what you are trying to teach them. Always choose good quality resources that come from reliable sources, and make sure they are safe for your students to use, touch, smell or work with. Also, using authentic and multi-cultural resources will add extra educational value to your lessons.
Step 6 – Fair assessment
Assessment is a very important part of your planning, and I don’t mean testing here. Checking your students’ understanding at the end of the lesson may not be the best idea if you hadn’t observed them during the whole session and adjusted your teaching accordingly. In the end, your students’ understanding will be as good as your delivery. A reflective teacher uses observation skills during the entire session to make sure if their planning needs changes. This is necessary as it may turn out that your session is too difficult or too easy for your students, requires more or less time to cover, that your students may have interesting suggestions that need to be taken into consideration immediately, etc. So, it is wise to think about the assessment as an ongoing observation rather than just a single test. If you need to introduce tests or similar forms of assessment, you may as well do so but make sure it is not the only method you use.
Step 7 – Evaluation
Each single lesson is a chance for the teacher to improve their teaching practice. For this reason it is good to make a habit of analysing your lessons and finding out how your students responded to certain activities, resources or methods you have used. It always helps when you try to identify the most effective tools that are worth using and those that may need modification.