There are probably as many schools-of-thought on lesson planning as there are teachers of teaching. Your professors in teachers’ college will likely have insisted on a set style and approach to writing curricula. Educators in public schools will have to fill out a surprisingly large amount of paperwork required by federal, state, and/or local officials and agencies. Your school principal or educational consultant may also prescribe a set format. Whether you work in a public or a private institution, there will be formulas for ‘correct’ lesson planning.
Before sitting down to make out a lesson plan, it is always good to take a bit of time to visualize your students’ response to the materials to be presented. Imagine their faces and body reactions to the topic and lesson objective as you also imagine how you might present it. Allow yourself to consider several strategies before deciding on a single approach.
As a “rule of thumb”, pick the presentation methods that you think will generate the most interest from your students!
Presentation: Teach – Model – Rehearse!
Whether it is something as useful and straightforward as how to tie your shoes or as complex as a geometry theorem or a Latin conjugation, the basics of knowledge transmission have been established over many centuries: present (possibly explain), model, rehearse.
To this day throughout Asia, the primary transmitter used by teachers is repetition without much or any explanation. People often make fun of “parroting” the teacher, simply repeating what the teacher says without really thinking about what it means. Yet as a memorization tool that gets “stuck in the mind”’ there is something to be said for simple repetition. It can be a useful tool in your bag of “teacher tricks.”
Of course, education theory has come a long way. The work of Harvard professor, Howard Gardner, for example, on the various ways brains differ has been widely disseminated in the
U.S. educational systems as “Multiple Intelligences Theory.”10 The theory recognizes that, for example, some of your students may have a “gift” for music while others are more or less verbal. It can be helpful to identify these “gifts” or lack thereof as these can affect and distinguish your students’ individual abilities to learn.
Author and former teacher, Eric Jensen’s “Brain-based” strategies for learning and teaching combine scientific studies of how the human brain works with practical activities that teachers can use (see his website for an impressive list of scientific research and publications that relate directly to education11).
Some educators work from a simple three-ways system: mouth, hands, body (or see, hear, say). In essence, according to this methodology, all knowledge can be communicated in three ways: spoken, written, and body (or bodily) languages. Curricula can be structured to include all three “languages.” Others talk about the “Big Four” that a child learns over time – first to listen, then to speak, then to read and finally to write. They try to ‘hit’ all four when teaching new materials.
Following Prof. Gardner’s theories, others group together speaking with listening and aural/oral abilities, reading with writing with visual/verbal abilities, and bodily actions with kinesthetic memory and socialization skills. Working through this method, educators attempt to ensure that students who “learn differently” all have a fair chance at mastering the material.