Sample Lesson Plan
Together with my teaching team, I planned each day's lesson at least a day in advance, considering the flow of each lesson as well as the flow of the unit from one lesson to the next. Our lesson template encouraged planning backwards, starting with the objectives of the lesson, next considering the means of assessing each objective, and only then choosing the methods and activities most appropriate for enabling our students to reach each objective. After each lesson, we debriefed it with guidance from our mentor, and I also recorded detailed reflections on my copy of the lesson plan.
View an example of a lesson plan from our course, complete with my notes and reflections: griff_pang_vot_gill_7_16_10.pdf
For this particular lesson, our objectives were twofold. We were wrapping up a sub-unit on the ways time regulated behavior and processes in animals--we had just finished exploring migration and were now moving on to hibernation, our last topic in this sub-unit. At the same time, we were in the midst of preparing our students for making their own scientific investigations--we had just concluded a lesson on generating hypotheses, and were now moving on to designing controlled experiments. Therefore, the major things we wished our students to accomplish were: 1) understanding hibernation, 2) designing simple controlled experiments, and 3) synthesizing major topics thus far to conclude the sub-unit on animals.
We began this lesson by targeting a common misconception: the idea that bears hibernate. Challenging students' long-held misconceptions is an effective way to hook their attention, and this was a successful entry point into a presentation about hibernation. Afterwards, we transitioned from animals to experimental design by debuting an amusing call-and-response game I had invented, meant to involve both students and teachers in kinesthetically mimicking the relationship between independent and dependent variables. With these new concepts introduced, we then guided students through an experimental design scenario. It turned out that many students were already familiar with this, and we decided to let them finish the second parallel scenario for homework instead of doing it in class. This not only improved the pacing of the lesson, but was also a way for us to assess individual understanding of the material. We then moved on to the cumulative concept map activity, which we explained using written instructions as well as student and teacher modeling. After the concept maps were made, the students were instructed to view other groups' concept maps and take note of new or incorrect connections. This way, we were able to assess each individual's understanding of the connections. Finally, students drew experience maps as a way of recapping the course for themselves and giving us valuable feedback. We also assigned them an essay that would allow them to demonstrate their new knowledge of hibernation.
In planning this lesson, we gave much consideration to 1) emphasizing opportunities for students to construct their own knowledge, 2) incorporating comprehension checks during or after each major activity, 3) smoothing the transitions between activities, and 4) explaining instructions and concepts through multiple modes of communication, e.g. visual and kinesthetic. Important announcements and logistical concerns were written into the lesson plan so that we knew to discuss them with the class in an organized fashion. By this point, we had also learned to display the objectives at the beginning and were making efforts to conclude each lesson with an opportunity for students to recap their learning and/or provide us feedback. A useful addition would have been to revisit the objectives at the end of class to judge if we have achieved each one to satisfaction. This was something we made efforts to incorporate as the course went on.