One of the HOPE program standards is P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. The goal of this standard is for teachers to create organized, detailed lessons with aligned instructional activities to increase the effectiveness of their teaching, maximize their student’s learning potential, and encourage their students to ask questions.
In my General Inquiry class we learned many ways to create an organized, detailed lesson plan that would help achieve the P1 standard. There were two components of creating a lesson plan that we learned, however, that stood out the most to me: segmenting the lesson plan into smaller, well-connected patterns and including frequent formative assessments throughout the lesson plan.
The segmenting of lesson plans into smaller bits or chunks of information, often called “chunking,” is an effective way to organize lesson plans to increase student’s learning potential. Learning proceeds more efficiently if students receive information in small chunks that are processed immediately. The importance of teaching in small steps fits well with the findings from cognitive psychology on the limitations of our working memory (Marzano, 2007).
Formative assessments are techniques employed by the teacher to check for understanding of a lesson topic or activity. Research has shown that frequent formative assessment improves learning. One strong finding from the research on formative assessment is that the frequency of assessments is related to student academic achievement (Marzano, 2007).
A vital way for a teacher to do frequent formative assessments is to informally check for understanding throughout the learning activity. A teacher can accomplish this by walking among the students and visually assessing students’ progress with the learning topic or activity. This is also a good time for the teacher to prompt the students to ask questions about the lesson topic or activity, as well as provide individual instructional tips or suggestions as needed. Teachers should also do a daily closing formative assessment for the whole class, such as a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” by the students if they successfully completed the lesson learning task or goal. Both the closing assessment and the informal assessments can help the teacher determine if the lesson plan needs to be adjusted and if the students are ready to move on to the next lesson.
Marzano, Robert J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching, Alexandria, Virginia: ACSD.