We all go into our face-to-face classes with some idea of what we are going to be doing during that day. Some professors like to wing it and have just a few notes to go off of, other have class totally mapped out including what they plan to say.
I tend to fall on the more prepared end of the spectrum. One way I have come to facilitate that preparation is to actually create a lesson plan. My lesson plans have taken different formats depending on the course and my experience teaching the course. For today’s post I’m going to share three different ways I have done this and describe how I have used them in each class.
First, is the PowerPoint method I use in General Psychology. Here is some important context:
This is what a typical lesson plan looks like:
For each class period, I create a corresponding slide arranged in this way. Within the presentation, they are placed in order and include sections by exam. The first slide is a table that hyperlinks to each slide so I don’t have to scroll through them when it gets late in the semester. I take a tablet to class that I can display this slide during the period to refer to.
Take Attendance: This links directly to our university’s attendance portal. Because I use a tablet to display my lesson plan, I can take attendance this way and not have to worry about entering it later (this also forces me to learn my students’ names)*.
Due before class: Describes what readings the students had to do and whether there was an associated quiz due.
During class: Here is where I outline the various activities I plan to do during the class and the order I plan to do them. I include relevant links, descriptions of activities, etc. Sometimes I include an outline of notes I need to make sure to give students, especially if it’s a topic I’m not particularly strong in.
Learning objectives: Here I include which learning objectives/study guide items this particular class period relates to. This helps me remind students what they should now be able to answer on their study guides. I like doing this in an introductory level class to provide students with some scaffolding as they prepare for their exams.
Assign: Here I include the reading due for the next class period and/or upcoming assignments or exams. I don’t always verbally remind students about specific readings or quizzes, but try to for other assignments or exams. This can also be a useful reminder for myself when it comes to helping students make connections across class periods.
*I also include a seating chart in my slide deck to help me learn names during the first couple of weeks and ask students to sit in the same seats for about that long.
Another approach I use is through a word document. This is something I have used in Applied Statistics to keep all of my material in one place. Here is some important context:
These lesson plans are much more detailed! This is what a typical lesson plan looks like (the actual lesson is about 8 pages long):
Again, with this method, the aim was to bring all my material together. A given lesson includes:
Quiz questions and answers from the reading quizzes
Photos of answers from the student booklet
Copies of my lecture slides
Solutions to activities
This information follows along in the order of the class which makes it easier to follow then jumping between all the different materials. It’s also less stuff to take to class. This is something I use electronically but could print it off in a pinch.
I also included elements for organization like I do with the PowerPoint method including a seating chart and a hyperlinked table with the schedule of lectures.
A great thing with this approach is that I can add comments in the moment or right after class if I need to update the lecture next time. I can then go directly to this document next semester when I am prepping for class.
The last approach I have used is also with word, but in a different way. This is something that I worked on when prepping a required freshman seminar class that I taught. I taught one of several sections and decided to team-prep the course with three other instructors to help distribute the work. Here is some important context:
This method strikes a balance between the earlier two examples in terms of detail. Each week one of us created something like this:
Before class: Outlined the readings or assignments that students had to complete before class.
During class: Describes two-three activities for class time; this section is much more descriptive than in my first example as the instructions were aimed at the other instructors in the group.
Some weeks also included an After class section if students have big assignments coming up.
Each of these methods include some basic elements but vary in their descriptiveness. I have found that the first and second methods work particularly well when the class is more developed and the third is useful for classes that are in development. Hopefully something you see here may be helpful for you as you are planning out your classes this semester.
If you are interested in any of these documents to use as a template, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below with a way to contact you and I am happy to share them with you!!
Best wishes for your semester.
Written by Ciara Kidder