Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CIES Lesson Planning - PBLA is Here

Lesson planning can sometimes seem anywhere between tedious and overwhelming. Teachers often lament the task of lesson plans, unsure of how to supply an advanced and detailed design with regards to such an organic, fluid and differentiated environment like that of an ESL classroom. There is one way around this however, that carries with it the potential to make things easier for all concerned.

Following a standardized lesson plan format, with uniformed and clear expectations, along with the support and guidance from school leadership, will keep teachers more organized and make the overall classroom experience a less stressful, more positive one. CIES is now moving to establish Portfolio Based Learning Assessment as our method for classroom preparation.

Following such a lesson plan format will allow us to maintain control of the pedagogical formulation process. Once in the habit of effective PBLA lesson planning, creating interesting lessons and material for your students, both as a class and individually, will actually become easier and easier.

What is Lesson Planning?

Lesson plans are a necessary and vital part to any teacher’s weekly duties. Without some form of a plan, instructional time can become little more than an arbitrary variety of activities with little methodology behind them. Lesson planning involves both mental planning and written documentation. One is entirely ineffective without the other. Consider the questions you will pose to students and what they may ask in return, reflect on topic at hand and visualize the lesson’s progression. The short outline that is your lesson plan is what follows and is based on your mental planning.

Essential Parts of A Lesson Plan

Learning Objectives / Focus
As teachers, we must decide, each and every lesson, what our intended goals will be. These objectives or aims are the heart of your lesson and like a thesis statement in an essay, all activities should relate back to it, again and again.

Finding ways to motivate students can no doubt be challenging at times, but this should very much be central to any planning we do. What is often referred to in academia as an anticipatory set, teachers must try to relate course material to personal experiences, local or global issues, statistical charts or graphs, or even anecdotes - anything that will grab the much-needed attention of your students.

Arriving at your learning objectives is paramount to any lesson being successful, but a close second is the type of questioning you plan to use. Efficient questioning of students should be intended to develop learning styles and habits, fuel higher-level thinking and over time, will allow teachers to evaluate the progress of their students. Student orientated questions, questioning through games, and role-playing are just some ways to use questioning in the classroom.

Bloom’s Taxonomy
Using Bloom’s Taxonomy goes hand in hand with the types of question you plan to develop for your lesson. A quick review of the hierarchy is below:

Knowledge based question: What are the health benefits of jogging?
Comprehension based question: Compare the health benefits of jogging vs. weight training.
Application based question: Which kinds of exercises are best for building muscle and why?
Analysis based question: List four ways to exercise with weights and explain which have the highest health benefits. Provide references to support your statements.

When the lesson is over, don’t simply move on but evaluate what you've just done. Clarify to yourself whether or not your lesson objectives were realistic, had enough variety, and came off as organized and clear. Most of all, ask yourself if students understood the lesson and why it was they learned it. 

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