Lesson Planning Strategy for Effective Mathematics Teaching

By Panasuk, Regina; Stone, Walter et al. | Education, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Lesson Planning Strategy for Effective Mathematics Teaching


Panasuk, Regina, Stone, Walter, Todd, Jeffrey, Education


Silver (1998) points out that results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, 1996) indicate a pervasive and intolerable mediocrity in mathematics teaching and learning in the middle grades and beyond. In far too many classrooms, mathematics instruction includes review of the previous lesson's homework assignment, quick delivery of a set of rules and procedures by the teacher, and the rest of the lesson, if there is any time left, is filled out with a set of exercises for practice.

The president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Lee V. Stiff in his message Learning Our Lessons (NCTM, 2000) calls for renewing attention to the elements of good lesson planning and implementation. He points out that the teachers, while fulfilling their numerous duties and responsibilities put by the wayside the development of detailed and well-thought out written lesson plans. If we are to change the status of and improve mathematics learning we must invest time in improving teaching and promote the thorough development and review of lessons plans.

Recently, the concept of lesson planning has become a focus of discussion among educators. Lesson planning can be defined as preactive decision making that takes place before instruction. Clark and Joyce (1981) stated that, consciously and unconsciously, teachers make decisions that affect their behavior and that of their students. Cognizant decision making, such as lesson planning, involves teachers' conscious efforts in developing a coherent system of activities that would facilitate the evolvement of students' cognitive structures. In this article we describe a research study, which was one of the components of a multi-faceted project, the Middle School Mathematics Initiative, sponsored by the state Department of Education. This study focused on planning lessons for instruction and investigated the process of implementation of the Four Stages of Lesson Planning (Panasuk & Cutler, 2001; Panasuk & Stone, 2002).

Four Stages of Lesson Planning

The methodology of teaching mathematics must involve accessible and developmental instruction, the scientific approach and its connection with real world, and systematic and logically consistent learning. Well-organized lessons and presentations facilitate students' perceptions of connections among mathematical concepts and major ideas (Cooney, Davis & Hendereson, 1983). While the student is constructing new knowledge, the form in which the information is presented affects how the new knowledge is constructed. When teachers emphasize the meaningful relationships among ideas and encourage students to search for connections, the students are more likely to succeed as compared to when they function without assistance.

Teaching mathematics is a purposeful activity and is best accomplished when it is scrupulously planned. Planning meaningful experience for students is a basic requirement for successful teaching. To help teachers in their process of planning and in organizing their instruction, we suggest the following Four Stages of Lesson Planning (FSLP) strategy:

1. Objectives

2. Homework

3. Developmental Activities

4. Mental Mathematics

It is important to stress that the introduced sequence is suggested for planning and not for delivering of a lesson. The delivery of a lesson progresses from objectives to mental mathematics activities, to the developmental activities, and to the announcement and explanation of the homework assignment.

Lesson planning formats may vary from lesson to lesson, however the core components and their sequence such as objectives, homework, and mental mathematics are fundamental to planning. They constitute the logical design, uniting lesson components; connecting them into a coherent structure that makes each lesson consistent, integrated and complete. …

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