3 Reasons Why it is Important to Plan Lessons
Originally published on Mar 23 2018, Last updated on Oct 8 2021
Lesson Planning is a very important topic in all our Education and Training Courses, however, the most work on this is done during the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training because you have to show evidence of 30 hours of teaching out of which you are observed for 3 hours on at least 3 separate occasions. The Level 3 Award or PTLLS and the Level 5 Diploma in Education or DTLLS also involve lesson planning.
Lesson Planning in Education and Training Courses
To begin with lesson planning, it is important to know the aims and objectives of the course being taught to students. A teacher or trainer should be prepared not only to teach the students but also to make sure that they take some fruitful thoughts regarding the lesson at the end of the class. The aims and objectives should answer questions regarding all the angles of the course. The questions could be like the following:
- What is the subject of the course?
- What should the students understand regarding the subject?
- What should they take away from the subject at the end of the class?
Most of all, the sequence of these questions is very important. Also, it will be easier to plan the lesson once these questions are answered.
Planning Teaching and Learning Activities
Once the aims and objectives are in place, it is important to make sure that the planned lesson is understandable by the students. The teacher should prepare different explanation methods and 'experiences' or activities, for the students to understand the topic from various angles. We have various blogs on different learning styles like VAK, Honey & Mumford etc . A variety of teaching methods would help engage and motivate each learner and could include giving real-life examples or creating a simulation/role-play related to the topic. Moreover, showing videos or playing music related to the topic may also assist in better understanding. Including activities related to the lesson is helpful for students to remember the topic being taught, increasing the retention span of the course material. If you want to learn more about incorporating different learning styles into your planning, check out our Learning Styles CPD short course.
The key is time management. A teacher has to time all the activities during the class hours to finish the lesson according to the plan. Everything including explanation, examples, and activities have to be timed in a manner that the lesson is not extended for the next class. For example, if you are delivering an hour-long session for your L4 CET course observation, you must ensure that you stick to the timings, plan in for contingencies, include time for checking student understanding, show appropriate use of differentiated resources and teaching methods etc.
Assessments - Check Student Understanding
To check the students' understanding after the learning activities, it is important that the teacher drafts questions in different ways to check the knowledge and understanding of the topic. The teacher may decide to check the understanding orally or in writing. For this question-answer session, time is required. The questions have to be pre-planned. The teacher should be aware of what s/he planned for the students to learn so that questions can be drafted accordingly. Also, activities can be planned to check the knowledge and understanding of the matter. This means thinking carefully about the type of questions to be used (open or close-ended, hinged questions, nominated questions, leading questions etc) and also Bloom's taxonomy i.e. are the questions measuring the learning to the correct level?
Not sure about what is Bloom's Taxonomy or what are all these types of questions? Why not do our short CPD course on Assessment to increase your confidence and understanding in your teaching and lesson planning practice.
Effective Ways to Plan a Lesson
1. Lesson planning outline - Plan out lessons using existing templates made available on Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to get started on ideas for creating lesson plans. Take what others have done and add details to make them your own to make sure you are on the right track. Everything is available online and so you just need to make sure all effective components such as warm-up, introduction, lesson delivery, guided practice, assignments and closing statements are included in your plan.
2. Using folders to save lessons - Create a structured document in your computer or use a portable external drive. Save all your lessons one by one so you can save time every year when you are covering content with minor improvements and changes. This way you can use old content with minor tweaks to make it more improved and effective.
3. Time each lesson component - Timing helps organise the lesson but it can always be adjusted as per the needs of learners. Sometimes no matter how much teachers plan, lessons do not go as planned and parts need to be repeated as per learners’ understanding. Keeping it old school, with a small timer helps. You can also download one from the internet and keep a log of activities. A typical time for each component of a lesson varies, but can go something like this for a 1-hour lesson:
- Warm-ups: 5 minutes Introduction:
- 2 minutes Presentation: 18 minutes
- Checking for Understanding: 7 minutes
- Guided practice: 23 minutes
- Closing & assigning homework: 5 minutes
4. Check understanding - You can get a clear picture of what the class understood from your lesson by checking for understanding. During this phase, you can be sure of how much each student has understood. It is better to catch mistakes at the initial level before any assignments or quizzes are circulated. For a virtual classroom, strategies such as misconception check, collaborating and learning, creating a word cloud, rating understanding and opinion charts are used to identify the need for support for student learning.
5. Incorporating activities - To make learning fun and engaging, activities are used to make lessons interactive. Using learning approaches such as small projects, games using technology, role-play, group presentations and hands-on work to help learners learn more and share plenty of ideas.
Benefits of Lesson Planning
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin Thus, an organised teacher will always be able to deliver the lesson within the given time frame (during the limited class timings such as the CET course observations). With the additional time saved, a teacher can give additional attention and time to students that require additional help. Also, there will be a sense of control and direction while teaching. Even if there is confusion amongst the students, the teacher will be able to guide them effectively as the teacher will be well versed with the subject matter and will be able to cater for the questions without any stress.
A teacher's most important trait is confidence. Lesson planning can help the teacher to be well prepared and be aware of what he/she intends on teaching the students. To meet your student's expectations, one must have a good lesson plan. To learn more about it you should do our Effective Lesson Planning short CPD course. It can help you as a teacher trainer to focus more on the basic knowledge first then take the students towards the next step. The teacher will never stammer or mumble during the lecture because of the timely preparation of the lesson.
Furthermore, a teacher is one of the first few inspirations of a student. Setting a good example of pre-planning can always assist a teacher to become a good inspiration and the confidence with which the teacher delivers the lesson will make the student realise the importance of planning ahead of time and adopt this habit for other disciplines of life.
The learning capacity of each student varies from one another. Lesson planning can minimise this understanding gap if the teacher plans the lesson effectively. This can be done by taking the first step, that is, start teaching from the core so that nobody is left behind and that every student is on the same page and then the teacher moves ahead with the topic. If you want to learn more about Inclusive Practice techniques in the classroom why not check out the short CPD course here.
Summary of Lesson Planning
A lesson plan does not necessarily have to be a detailed script that contains the plan of every interaction with students in the classroom. It should preferably have a general overview of the aims and objectives of the course, the plan of teaching and learning activities of the course and the activities planned to check the students’ understanding. It is like producing a show for each day and utilising each minute you have with your learners to get the most out of it in a limited time period. The approach is to teach them as much as they can from the lesson. The driving force behind lesson planning is the motivation for the teacher and the hunger to learn more from students is what keeps a teacher going.