Sunday, January 30, 2005

Teaching the Kids to Teach

I finished most of the handouts that I need for the invertebrates project:
  • An assignment sheet which includes a checklist of steps to follow to complete the project, along with a list of exactly what they need to hand in. My kids are used to this sort of handout. After two and a half years, they are finally starting to actually use my assignment sheets to guide their work!
  • A syllabus that says what they should be doing in class each day for the next two weeks, and what each day's homework is. I've never given them something like this before - mainly because I want to have the flexibility to give them more time or less time based on how things go in class. I think they need to get used to looking ahead and sticking to a schedule, though.
  • A one-page handout - which will accompany a "mini-lesson" - on how to plan a lesson.
  • A one-page sample of the kind of lesson plan that I want them to turn in.
  • A rubric - they will use this to grade their own work, and then I will grade them. I haven't made this yet.

It's interesting trying to simplify the process of creating a lesson so that 8th graders can do it and to reflect the fact that their lessons will only be 15-20 minutes long.

Here's the text of the handout on lesson planning:


Teaching a Lesson

Teaching a lesson is not the same as giving a presentation. A presentation is a lecture; you talk, your audience listens. A good lesson involves the students in their own learning. There are many different ways to do this.

Start with an aim, objective, or essential question. This helps you focus on the most important ideas that you want your students to learn. For example, "SWBAT explain how amphibians are adapted to life in the water during some stages of their lives, and to life on land during other stages."

Decide how you are going to present new information to your students.
  • Have them read an article and take notes or answer questions or fill in a graphic organizer.
  • Lecture and have them take notes or fill in a graphic organizer.
  • Do an activity that helps them figure out the ideas that you want them to know. This could be an experiment, solving a problem of some kind, creating or building something, etc.
  • Show a short video or have them explore a website and take notes.
  • Your own idea - be creative!

Decide how you are going to have them practice or review what they've learned.
  • Review worksheets - crossword puzzles, review questions, etc.
  • Play a review game.
  • Complete an activity in a group.
  • Share what they've learned with the class.
  • Your own idea - be creative!

Think about how to make the lesson interesting to your classmates. You don't have to "entertain" like a singer or comedian - but you do have to decide what makes this information interesting and how you are going to get and keep your classmates' attention. You know as well as I do that eighth graders get restless very easily!

REMEMBER, YOUR LESSON SHOULD BE 15-20 MINUTES LONG. Think about how long it will take students to read or do each part of your lesson. If you're not sure, try it and time yourself.


And here are the prompts I'm giving them for writing their own lesson plan. I filled them in to provide an example, but I'll just include the prompts here.

Lesson Plan

Aim: (Write one sentence saying what you want the students to be able to do at the end of your lesson).

Objectives: (Write a more detailed list of what you want the students to know and be able to do).

Lesson Sequence: (Describe what you are going to do and how long it will take).

Homework: (Describe what the homework will be).


I predict they are going to have the most trouble keeping their lesson focused; hence the emphasis on aim and objectives. I think they will also have trouble with pacing. I'm not that worried about their ability to come up with activities.


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