Lesson Plans - Strategies for Learning

Article excerpt

A lesson plan is a road map, a guide for trainers to follow when delivering courses. Many trainers and curriculum developers design lessons by habit, not fully understanding why they structure their lessons the way they do.

In the lesson plan, method, media, content, and feedback all come together. When you discuss the plan for conducting a lesson or the process of writing one, what you are really addressing is the strategy for learning.

Why write a lesson plan? Here are six reasons:

* It provides a historical document of what has been taught.

* It serves as a guideline in rehearsing for the lesson.

* It can be used to help a substitute trainer if the primary instructor cannot teach the lesson.

* It serves as a basis for an evaluation of both the instructor and the instruction.

* It is used to record changes made in order to improve instruction.

* It covers all the necessary material in great detail.

Building Blocks

A good lesson plan has four main components: the introduction, the body, the opportunity for questions, and the summary. At least three of them go back a long way.

Many people have said that there are three steps to speaking in front of an audience:

* Tell your listeners what you are going to tell them (the introduction).

* Tell them (the body).

* Tell them what you told them (the summary).

Trainers can add a fourth step:

* Ask them what you told them (the opportunity for questions).

The introduction: getting

started

Five ingredients are necessary for an effective introduction: the "gain attention," the overview, the learning objectives, the description of methods, and the evaluation.

Not surprisingly, the gain attention should be written so that it will actually gain the trainees' attention. It also serves to establish rapport.

All too often, speakers start off with jokes that do not relate to the lessons at hand. Even if such jokes are funny, it takes valuable time to get trainees back on track afterward.

That doesn't mean that you should never use jokes to gain attention. Just be aware of the implications if your class finds them unamusing or if they do not relate to the lesson you are teaching.

The most important thing you do in the gain attention is to describe the benefits trainees will derive from paying attention to your lesson. Answer the trainees' question: "What's in it for me?" By doing this, you not only motivate your class, but you also ensure that your gain attention relates to your lesson subject.

The overview should give the purpose and conceptual framework of the lesson. The conceptual framework is no more than the main ideas you will be covering in the lesson, numbered and listed by name. If the lesson relates to other instruction, then be sure to let the class know how it relates.

You must make trainees aware of the learning objectives for your course. Introducing the objectives reduces trainees' anxiety by taking advantage of the principle of learning outcome (see the box on motivational principles).

Don't read the learning objectives to the class. That is insulting and can create a barrier between instructor and trainees. A good method is to have the trainees read the objectives themselves and then to ask them if they have any questions.

Describing your methods means telling trainees the various instructional methods you will use to get the learning objectives across. You may also cover such administrative details as instructional rating forms and the various kinds of media you will be using during the lesson.

The last ingredient of the introduction is an explanation of how and when trainees will be tested or evaluated on what they have learned.

The body: filling the gaps

The body is where you lay out the material of the lesson. …