Teachers are busy people – they don’t always have time for themselves, let alone trying to plan lessons around their home commitments, children, pets or partner! So, any resources out there to help them can only be a good thing, right? Sometimes these resources are out-of-the-box and this is fine for most subjects. But there are many times when teachers have to make their own resources or lesson plans because they couldn’t find anything suitable or they teach an uncommon subject.
This is where it’s important to offer as much help to teachers as possible. With the new school year just around the corner in the northern hemisphere, we’ve tried to help you get organised early and come up with 5 Tips to Help Teachers Create Better Lessons. Hopefully if you’re a teacher (like me!) you will find these useful.
Set Clear Learning Objectives: Begin each lesson with clear and measurable learning objectives. Define what students should be able to know, understand, or do by the end of the lesson. These objectives will serve as a roadmap for both teachers and students and help maintain focus throughout the lesson. An old teacher friend of mine said, in every lesson, students should have to ‘do something’ to demonstrate their learning. Even if it’s just writing a sentence or two, or drawing a diagram! The lessons that I offer to teachers contain learning objectives at the beginning of each lesson. They’re a great tool to help teachers keep track of what students should know and help as a guide for creating assessment questions, tests or assignments.
Use Active Learning Strategies: Encourage active participation and engagement by incorporating various interactive activities into your lessons. These can include group discussions, hands-on experiments, debates, role-plays, multimedia presentations, and problem-solving tasks. Active learning promotes critical thinking, collaboration, and retention of information. This looks a little different for online or digital lessons. In these cases, learning designers try to incorporate ‘learning checks’ throughout the lesson and especially after new content has been introduced. This might be a ‘Fast Five Quiz’ or a match-up activity, for example.
Differentiate Instruction: Recognize that students have diverse learning styles, abilities, and interests. Differentiate your instruction to accommodate these differences. Offer multiple pathways for students to grasp the content and demonstrate their understanding. Use a mix of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approaches to engage all learners effectively. At Voyager School, our lesson design and tasks try to appeal to a variety of learning styles. Our lessons are video tutorials which appeals to visual and auditory learners. We incorporate lots of visuals such as photos, illustrations and diagrams, again to appeal to visual learners. For kinesthetic learners, we try to incorporate tasks where they have to manually manipulate learning content, such as cutting up info cards and moving them around their table to categorize them. Catering for kinesthetic learners online is always a difficult task, but we try our best!
Utilize Technology and Multimedia: Integrate technology and multimedia elements into your lessons to make them more dynamic and engaging. Visual aids, interactive simulations, videos, and educational games can help reinforce concepts and cater to various learning preferences. However, ensure that the technology used enhances the learning experience rather than being a distraction. Being an online school, this is a slam dunk for us! All of our lessons integrate technology and multimedia elements, such as visual aids, videos and educational games.
Provide Prompt Feedback: Regular and timely feedback is crucial for student growth and improvement. Offer constructive feedback on assignments, class participation, and assessments. Recognize students’ efforts and provide specific suggestions for improvement. Positive reinforcement and personalized feedback can motivate students and foster a positive learning environment. At Voyager School, this means ‘End-of-Unit Quizzes’ and (for Year 10) teacher-marked assessment. In this way, the design of our courses and lessons, gives regular and timely feedback. We also recognize student’s efforts with Quiz and Course Completion certificates.
Remember, effective lesson planning involves continuous reflection and adaptation. Solicit feedback from students and colleagues, and be open to adjusting your teaching methods based on the outcomes and needs of your students. Flexibility and a commitment to continuous improvement are essential in creating better lessons and promoting a positive learning experience for all students.