Week Four and counting

Drilling down to the key details...

Designing effective lessons

Without question, one of the key points that make a class successful is having lessons that are engaging and effective. Creating these types of lessons does not happen overnight. It requires time, focus and a careful eye to ensuring that the needs of each student are met. So, how does a teacher create a rigorous curriculum plan that leads to improved student performance and yet allows them to balance other teacher responsibilities? Where should a teacher begin when thinking about all the parts of a successful instructional plan?

A few mistakes to avoid when lesson planning

  • Accidental learning - don't get caught focusing your energies on "cool" activities. Just because students are engaged does not mean they are learning. Don;t mistake the two!
  • Breadth of coverage - often times teachers focus on covering the entire unit or textbook. In the rush to coverage everything the breadth of material is covered often with little depth.
  • Poor planning and management - putting in long hours of planning does not always equate with solid plans. Remember, to focus on quality of the time planning and not the quantity of time.

The Backward Design Approach

Backwards Planning: Building Enduring Understanding through Instructional Design - Hillary Wolf

As you think of instructional design this video will give you some insight into what an instructional designer does.

What does an Instructional Designer do?

Engaging and Connecting Students to the Learning

Understanding how students organize knowledge

As you think about how teaching and learning SHOULD best occur consider the following questions?

* What is the role of the teacher in the classroom?

* Should the teacher be the "expert" in the classroom?

* What does it mean for students to be actively engaged in the classroom?

* How should a teacher reconcile their own values with different teaching philosophies?

The answers to these questions will certainly help guide how your classroom runs and the way in which teaching and learning occurs.


Constructivism is a theory that helps us connect the dots between how students learn, and what strategies a teacher might employ in the classroom to engage and access their students' current and prior knowledge.

Check out the video below on constructivism

Use a Learning Theory: Constructivism

Building on students' prior knowledge

Students enter the classroom with a range of experiences and knowledge. Being able to access this information is critical to engaging students and connecting learning to their real lives.

Check out the site below for excellent advice about tapping into the prior knowledge of your students.