One of the secrets of successful lesson plans is how you decide to structure them. Lessons should have a mixture of activities and time for students to be involved in collaborative group work. One thing that some teachers do, which in my opinion is wrong, is to begin the lesson without a preamble, almost as soon as they walk into the classroom. Whilst time is of the essence, it doesn’t take long to ask students how they are, and then write the lesson objectives on the board. Make a point of directing students’ attention to these and remind them that they will be revisited at the end of the lesson, to see if they have all been met. If appropriate also write the topic of the lesson on the board.
The lesson plan is actually what makes for successful lessons. Much thought has to go into lesson planning, but once you have done the lesson plans for the school year, you have them to use again. They can be adapted to suit each new class, but having a good lesson plan is a real confidence-builder.
1) A warm-up activity should be planned to begin the lesson. This should serve as an introduction to the lesson. You could try a brainstorming session, to find out how much students know about the topic to be covered in the lesson. If some students are not responsive, ask them for contributions by naming them. Keep every student alert.
This activity should take only 5 minutes, but can be extended if some interesting answers crop up.
2) Move on to the main body of the lesson, moving around the class while you are talking. If students have shown some knowledge of the subject, ask them to explain to the class what they know. Help out if they get a little stuck by asking other students to carry on. You should speak as little as possible until the time comes for ‘expert’ knowledge and instruction.
3) Involve students in group or pair work giving sufficient time for a feedback session at the end of the activity. Have one student act as scribe if there are more than two in a group. This makes reporting more effective.
4) Review the lesson by asking students what they have learned. Revisit the objectives and tick the ones that were achieved.
A lesson plan that plans different activities should address the learning styles of each student. Although this sounds impossible, with varied activities it isn’t. If there is a particularly disruptive student in the class, have them go to the board and write the ideas in the brainstorming session as well as other points which are discussed in the class.
Successful lessons are the result of lesson plans, although admittedly it is sometimes necessary to jettison a lesson plan in mid-lesson if it is clear that students are bored, or don’t understand and need more explanation. It also happens if students say something interesting that the teacher feels is worth pursuing further.
Lesson plans should be liberating rather than constraining. You should not feel duty bound to follow a lesson plan if it is not working for your students. Be flexible, enthusiastic and innovative in your classes and students will respond by showing interest, if not enthusiasm.
Have great lessons in future by planning them well. But don’t be afraid to deviate if you have to!