In many school systems, curriculum and learning goals are pre-determined by national, state, or provincial curriculum committees and ministries of education. And in any educational institution, there are learning goals or desired outcomes that need to be followed to gain mastery. Sometimes, an educator may adopt a course with already-made goals, either by a previous instructor or by the academic department. Nevertheless, teachers still have a degree of control over the lesson plan of a particular course or program.
Learning goals or lesson plans are an educator’s road map of what students need to learn and how to coordinate the class. Before you plan your lesson, you will first need to identify the learning objectives for the class. Then, you can design appropriate learning activities and develop strategies to obtain feedback on student learning.
Strategies For Determining Appropriate Learning Goals
- Outline learning objectives for student
Outlining learning objectives for students will help you determine what you want students to learn and do at the end of class. To help you specify your learning objectives for students, answer the following questions: What is the topic of the lesson? What do I want students to learn? What do I want them to understand and be able to do at the end of class? What do I want them to take away from this particular lesson?
Once you outline the learning objectives for the class meeting, rank them in terms of their importance. This step will prepare you for managing class time and accomplishing the more important learning objectives before your time elapses.
- Evaluate concepts in the lesson
In determining learning goals for your lesson, identify the vital concepts, ideas, or skills imbibed in the subject. Conduct a scale of preference for them and know their importance to help you manage your time well.
- Develop the introduction
The second step to developing your learning goals is to have a creative introduction to stimulate interest and encourage thinking. You can also use different approaches to engage students (e.g., personal anecdotes, historical events, real-world examples, short video clips, etc.). Since you will have several students with different academic and personal experiences, you might consider starting with a question or activity to gauge students’ knowledge of the subject. Consider the following questions when planning your introduction:
How will I check whether students know anything about the topic or have any prejudiced notions about it? What are some commonly held ideas (or possibly misconceptions) about this topic that students might be familiar with?
- Plan the specific learning activities
Now that you have your learning objectives arranged in their order of relevance, outline the specific activities needed to help students understand and apply what they have learned. There are different teaching and learning activities you can use to define and check whether the learning goals have been accomplished. And as you plan your examples and class activities, estimate how much time you will spend on each. Remember to build in time for extended explanation or discussion.
- Check for understanding
Having explained the topic and illustrated it with different examples, you need to check for student understanding – how will you know that students are learning? Think about specific questions you can ask students. Write them down, and then paraphrase them so that you are prepared to ask the questions in different ways. Try to predict the answers your questions will generate. You can also decide on whether you want students to respond orally or in writing.
- Develop a conclusion and a preview
Go over the teaching material covered in class by summarizing the main points of the lesson. Conclude by summarizing the main points and previewing the next topic. How does the topic relate to the one that is coming? Ensure that the preview spurs students’ interest in the next class and helps them connect the different ideas within a larger context.
- Create a realistic timeline
While developing your learning goals, endeavor to allocate time to every activity intended for the class. A realistic timeline will reflect your flexibility and readiness to adapt to the specific classroom environment. Here are some strategies for creating a realistic timeline:
- Estimate how much time each of the activities will take, then plan some extra time for each
- In your learning goals, indicate how much time you expect each activity will take.
- Plan a few minutes at the end of class to answer any remaining questions and to sum up key points
- You can also plan an extra activity or discussion question in case you have time left.
- Present your learning goals/lesson plan to students
Letting your students know what they will be learning and doing in class will help keep them more engaged. You can share your lesson plan by writing it on the board or telling students explicitly what they will be learning and doing in class. You can also provide a handout containing the learning goals and objectives for the lesson. Providing a meaningful organization of the class time can help students remember better, follow your presentation and understand the rationale behind in-class activities. Having a visible learning plan will also help you and students stay on track.
An effective lesson plan does not have to be a weighty document that describes each classroom scenario. Instead, it should provide you with a general outline of your teaching objectives, learning goals, means to accomplish them, and basic knowledge of the subject. It is a reminder of what you want to do and how you want to do it. A productive lesson is not one in which everything goes as planned, but it ensures that both students and educators remain productive.