Top Ten Tips for Lesson Planning

10 things to consider when planning a lesson.

Lesson planning can be very intimidating. Where do you start? How do you know if it will go as planned? What do you do when it doesn't go as planned? Below is compilation of the top ten practices any teacher should use in order to plan a great lesson that goes smoothly.

1. Always have a Plan B

Whether your lesson is completely flopping and you need an alternative to keep students engaged or you have students completing tasks long before others, always plan something extra. You never know where your lesson will take you, it's important to always have something to pull out of your back pocket when there's extra time or if the lesson isn't going at all like it should be. Aside from that, maybe your technology fails, or you couldn't get your worksheets printed out in time. Always be prepared!

2. Have an engaging hook

If you don't have your students at "Hello" you'll never get them! Make sure you always have something interesting or engaging for students to do before you complete a lesson. Your students need to find a reason to be interested in what you're teaching. Find something that will make them curious and they will be willing to learn more.

3. Let students know your objectives

All too often students think, or possibly say "Why do we need to know this?" or "Why are we learning this?" Let students know right away what they goal of the lesson is. Students need to know what they are gaining by focusing in on a lesson. If they don't understand why they are doing something, they may not take it seriously, and at that point nobody wins. Make sure your objectives are stated in a way that makes sense to students. Put it in words they understand so they see the importance.

4. Find a way to incorporate technology

Incorporation of technology is a huge part of classrooms today. With SMART or Active boards being installed in every classroom it's hard to plan a lesson without using them. Technology is something that, to be honest, students know better than teachers at times. This gives students something they can relate to in a lesson, if they have an iPad at home, using one at school or in a lesson is cool and easy. Technology also offers multiple ways of interacting with students other than a teacher talking at students. Within every lesson technology is something students and teachers should explore.

5. Cater to the needs of all learners

Remember that no two students learn the same. There are so many modalities of learning and there will always be students with multiple learning styles in your classroom. Always think about how your lesson caters to the needs to your different types of learners. Do you have an audio clip? Is there a point where students can move around or manipulate items? When will students be able to write or speak? It's important to have lessons feature activities or all types of learners so the message being sent out reaches all students in a way that engages them.

6. Let your students explore

Teaching students isn't always about sharing what you know for an entire period. Allow for some time within your lesson that lets students take the reigns and explore. Have students do a picture walk, have them research the topic being taught and see what they learn. When students are able to find and learn new information on their own it makes it much more meaningful. Be allowing students to work within the lesson alone or in a group they're essentially teaching themselves or one another, which is one of the best ways students can learn.

7. Consider what your students already know

No lesson will work if the students do not have the background knowledge necessary to participate. In every lesson there should always be material that is review for students, and that material should always be a building block that leads a student to the next step in the current lesson. Assess students when necessary to ensure they are ready for the new material and never be afraid to go back and review when necessary.

8. Switch up assessments

All too often teachers assess their students in the same ways. "We will have a quiz at the end of every chapter and a test at the end of the unit." There are so many ways students can show what they've learned that do not have to be a test. If you want your students to be excited about learning or possibly even forget that they are learning, make sure you're offering fun things for them to do that allow you to asses what they've learned.

9. Take time to reflect

Always consider what has worked well in the past, and document this information for the future in a way that works for you. It's okay to use recycled material if you know it works! Reflecting on a lesson allows a teacher to really thing if the students met the goals needed or not, from there it's easy to make adjustments and change what does or does not work. No lesson will ever go perfect, but it's always good to try and make it better for next time.

10. Be creative and have fun

Students will be able to tell if you are not enjoying yourself in a lesson, and those feelings will rub off on them. If you're bored with what you're teaching, imagine how the kids feel! Don't be afraid to let loose and have fun when you're teaching, when you're enjoying yourself, that rubs off on the kids and makes them want to be a part of what you're teaching.