The complete article was taken from The Apple. The “9 Keys to Teaching a Successful Lesson“ written by Jill Hare, Editor at TheApple.com was copied to this blog for ease in reading. If you have additional articles or ideas discussing successful lessons, please leave a comment and share your thoughts!
1. Start With the Standards
Each teacher has a set of standards by grade level and subject that they are tasked to accomplish throughout the year. If you haven’t committed them to memory, make sure you post them or have them ready for easy reference. These standards should guide everything you do.
Follow the wording of the standard closely to make sure you hit the target. While straying from the standard a bit may be okay, if you go too far off course, you’ll loose valuable time.
2. Plan for Outcomes, Not Activities
Think about what your students are required to learn. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, especially at the elementary level, to plan activities rather than outcomes. Don’t get caught up in activities associated with unit themes unless the activity really helps drive comprehension. Some activities require more preparation and time than they’re worth. If at the end of a long (and even fun) activity your students aren’t sure what they did, the activity needs to be rethought and reworked for the next year.
3. Plan Ahead
Last minute lesson success is rare, so take your time thinking about the big idea of the unit and how each class period or lesson fits together. Planning a lesson in advance can help teachers revisit their initial thoughts and maybe make changes that weren’t foreseen in the first planning stages. Teachers should allow plenty of time to plan, gather supplies, literature and even technology necessary to carry out a successful lesson.
4. Think Cross Curricular
The best teachers are the ones that don’t teach a subject in isolation. Every lesson taught in school can relate and should relate to something students are doing in other areas of school. If teachers can connect student learning throughout the school day, students are more likely to retain information.
At a workshop I recently attended, a PE teacher told me how she had helped students understand pioneer times by setting up stations in the gym with activities similar to the labor activities (fetching water, etc) that pioneers did. It kept the students active and drove home a concept in another class.
Thinking cross curricular doesn’t happen without collaboration. Many schools are realizing the power of collaboration by allowing more common planning time among grade level teachers. This effort can pay off big when students see how teachers work together and pieces of the puzzle start to fit into a bigger picture. If collaboration at your school isn’t off to a roaring start, try working with at least one other teacher. Talk over your plans for lessons and see if you can offer each other ways to enhance existing lessons or activities.
6. Real World Application
Students are more motivated to learn when they see how the knowledge they learn can be applied outside of the school building. If you’re teaching a lesson on rock forms, don’t just stop at naming and viewing rocks. Talk about what kinds of professions would do this and why it’s useful. Studying Picasso in art class is great, but isn’t it better to see a local artist paint and how she makes a living? If you don’t have enough money or resources for field trips, there are plenty of virtual opportunities to bring real world application of concepts into your classroom.
7. Utilize the Technology Available
Classrooms these days are decked out with interactive white boards and computer stations. Don’t plan your lesson around technology (unless that’s your core goal), but make sure you explore the options that exist for complementing your lesson. Even the youngest of students are hooked into technology these days, so utilizing technology may make your lesson more memorable.
If you don’t have a classroom full of technology, you can extend the lesson at home. Students can complete complimentary lessons on a home or library computer for extra practice and exploration.
8. Have a Plan B
If you’re trying out a new lesson, make sure you have another direction in mind if the lesson doesn’t go as planned. The students may not be grasping your approach, or something could go ary, like a power outage, or a fire drill. Teachers are great at thinking quick, but expecting the unknown is a great way to insure your lesson is successful, no matter the circumstances.
9. LOVE Your Lesson
If you don’t love the lesson you’ve created, then you won’t be able to deliver it enthusiastically. If you’re not psyched about a particular lesson, look back over it and see what’s missing. What one element would help you get pumped up to teach it? The best teachers know how to craft lessons that not only inspire their students to learn, but create an environment of curiosity and excitement.