-State Standards (upon which the content is based)
-Learning Targets (the skills a student will acquire)
-Learning Objectives (what a students will actually do)
All of this was written and planned before a single activity or practical application was recorded.
-Anticipatory Set (a warm up of sorts to prep the students for the lesson to follow)
-Direct Instruction (the teacher talks at the students)
-Class work (the class completes a task together as a group)
-Evaluation (the instructor goes over the work with the class)
-Individual/Group Practice (students carry out a task on their own with their new knowledge)
-Assessment (The students are measured to make sure they understand the lesson and content)
-Closure (students are brought back to the start, and shown that they understand their targets)
In addition, each lesson was to have resources and materials, as well as modifications for hypothetical students with
disabilities. Lesson plans that I submitted were typically two full pages, though some of my peers lesson easily topped seven pages in length. Keep in mind, this is a lesson for a single day, and for a single period. With 2-3 preparations per day, times five days a week, that could easily amount to thirty pages of writing each week just to document the plans.
Of course, the model is solid in theory, and on the rare cases that I follow it, I have found some success. However, as most teachers and students know, this is not always practical. Information and lessons don't come prepackaged into 45 minutes chunks and often times refuse to fit. Some of the best work or projects take time. Days might be spent on a project to make sure it meets the requirements. A concept or learning target may be built slowly over an entire school year. I can teach you the rules of commas in 10 minutes, but it will easily take a decade before you're able to effectively use them in real-world writing. I'm sure you can find some comma errors in this blog post alone.
The reason I bring this up is because our school is currently trying to figure out what it means to plan a lesson. Our current system has become inefficient and so a committee is attempting to figure out just what is needed for a solid lesson plan. Some teachers want full units in advance, others want to flexible day-to-day. Some teachers love the daily "bell ringers" and anticipatory sets, while others seek project-based learning and on-going tasks as valid. Some teachers feel they already plan and question the need for a "lesson plan" while others thrive on the structure. Regardless, arriving at a central template, submission model, and set of required elements is proving difficult. Frankly, the real question we're all trying to ask ourselves is: What is a Lesson?
I have my own theories, but it would be interesting to sample the students, teachers, and departments and see just what we really should be doing in school day to day. Is school a place for working and practicing, or a place for teachers to model and instruct directly? Is school a place for reading, or should that be relegated to the "home" realm? What is the responsibility of a student beyond the building, including the scope of homework assigned? As our faculty tweaks our current lesson plan model, the real questions evade us.
So for those of you in education, past, present, and future (aka everyone)....what is a lesson?