Marissa Fredrickson

Abstract: As a teacher the most time consuming activity you will do is form a lesson plan. Within this article I have listed out the competencies that a teacher should add to a lesson plan, to make it effective. When the term effective is mentioned within the article, it means a competency that helps a student succeed academically.

As teachers the most tedious part of the job is compiling a lesson plan. This is also the most important part of your job. Lesson plans set the pace of the year’s activities, and what will be covered with in the curriculum that year. It is also extremely important to do a good job, because one mistake can mean the difference between a student succeeding or failing. As a teacher or a future teacher how can you make an effective lesson plan?   When we say effective, we mean a lesson plan that engages students and educates them to the highest degree. Making a lesson plan is critical to the teaching profession, teachers should aim to include areas like technology integration, student motivation, and critical thinking these are the first steps to an effective lesson plan. We all want our students to grow as learners and scholars.

Technology is everywhere it’s simply not going anywhere, as teachers we might as well face it head on. Why should you even bother putting technology into your lesson plan anyways? “Computers help us communicate with others, celebrate successes, inform the public, publish student work, work collaboratively with others on classroom projects, and use a variety of sources to formulate ideas. In the Information Age, educators must innovate constantly. Our world values flexibility, innovation, self-direction and collaborative problem solving.” (Seamon, 1999, 4)   Seamon is explaining the positives of technology in our world; it also can better the education we give to our students.

The use of technology in the classroom is important; it can help cement ideas and competencies. “These competencies include improved understanding of complex concepts, connections between ideas, processes and learning strategies, as well as the development of problem solving, visualization…(Moeller & Reitzes, 2011, 5)” The most common mistake when it comes to technology integration is using it as simply just drill practice, students need to learn how to analysis and research effectively (Moeller & Reitzes, 2011).   As teachers making the lesson plans; we need to make time in our agendas for teaching students how to research effectively. We want all students to be discerning and knowledgeable evaluators of information (Seamon, 1999). We need to make the most out of computer programs that help students understand concepts from the mathematics and science classroom. There are so many programs out there; we just need to start putting them into our lesson plans.

We can do this by giving the student’s time to work with computers, and other technology used in the classroom setting. Another important aspect would be to allow time in our lesson plan for media literacy instruction. This will act as a base or foundation for further lessons to come. In recent years barriers have been put up against technology integration. One of these barriers is poor lesson planning and preparation, so in order to avoid this one must take charge ahead of time (Ertmer, 1999, 47).   We all want to empower students, but first we need to give them the tools to do so.

There are just some subjects that make it hard to keep a student on task and or interested.   Keller’s ARCS model of motivation outlines the steps a teacher must include in a lesson plan to achieve a student’s motivation. First of all the lesson must gain the student’s attention, this can include something of the unexpected (Keller, 2000). This can be a simple task, just put a pun or brain teaser on the board, all you want to do is gain a student’s attention.   After you gain their attention you have to keep it, this means changing up variety in your teaching techniques (Keller, 2000).   Secondly, you want to relate your content to the students. Why should the student care, if it doesn’t matter to their lives or future? All you have to do is relate your content to their future jobs, or their academic requirements (Keller, 2000).

Another route is to use examples and case studies to support your content. “For example, secondary school children enjoy reading stories with themes of stigma, popularity, and isolation because these are important issues at that time of their lives.(Keller, 2000, 2)” All of these ideas will help to extend your student’s attention. Lastly you want to build confidence in your students; a student that is confident is a motivated student. “Often students have low confidence because they have very little understanding of what is expected of them. By making the objectives clear and providing examples of acceptable achievements, it is easier to build confidence. (Keller, 2000)”   Make the topics and main points clear and concise. If a student doesn’t understand a topic one way, explain it differently.

Students gain confidence when they understand a topic. You do not want your students attributing their success to “luck” (Keller, 2000). This ends with the student being reactive as opposed to proactive with their studies. To help students sustain their confidence, give them recognition on a job well done. Give them a pat on the back; put a sticker on top of an exam with a good grade. This will cause the student to want to improve themselves. Beware of giving extravagate recognition, like a “prize”. The student will end up expecting it every time, and the one time they do not receive the “prize”; they may regress. By including this in your lessons you can motivate your students, and let them get the most out of your lessons.

Critical thinking is an important skill to have in the real world. What better of a place to learn this, than the classroom. As a teacher you want to teach your students how to argue effectively. Firstly you want your students to be able to avoid fallacies, and support their stance when making an argument (Kurfiss, 1988). Also encourage them to seek both sides of an issue before reaching a decision. To further foster your student’s critical thinking skills, hold class discussions and or debates. This will help a student cement their understanding of the topic, and build research skills all in one. Not only do argumental skills matter in the classroom, it matters in the real world (Kurfiss, 1988). These skills help build a foundation for future learning. If you add these skills into your curriculum, you will be fostering lifelong learning for your students. Including this in your lesson plan will be the icing on your academic year.

In conclusion for teachers the hardest task is making a lesson plan. It is also the most important thing they will do. Lesson plans decide how the year’s activities will unfold, and what will be covered that year within class. It is also important to do the best job possible. As a teacher it is possible for you to make an effective lesson plan that engages your students fully.   All you have to do is follow the details outlined earlier. Making a lesson plan is necessary to the teaching profession, trying to include details like technology integration, student motivation, and critical thinking in the classroom are the first leaps to an effective lesson plan. Our students are our next leaders, lets give them our upmost best.   The students certainly deserve it.

Cameron, L. (2006). Picture this: My Lesson. How LAMS is being used with pre-service teachers to develop effective classroom activities. In Proceedings of the First International LAMS Conference (pp. 25-34).
Ertmer, P. A. (1999). Addressing first-and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(4), 47-61.
Keller, J. M. (2000). How to integrate learner motivation planning into lesson planning: The ARCS model approach. VII Semanario, Santiago, Cuba, 1-13.
Kurfiss, J. G. (1988). Critical Thinking: Theory, Research, Practice, and Possibilities. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 2, 1988.
Moeller, B., & Reitzes, T. (2011). Integrating Technology with Student-Centered Learning. A Report to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Education Development Center, Inc.
Seamon, M. P. (1999). Connecting Learning & Technology for Effective Lesson Plan Design.