The beginning of the new year brings hope. Teachers and students come back from the holiday break refreshed and ready to learn. The idea is to keep the enthusiasm going at least until the stress of assessment(s) kicks in, but how?
If your school uses curriculum made by Pearson, Nelson or likes, you will have to do a lot of extra lesson planning and individualized practice. Most schools buy curriculum from the educational conglomerates who offer reference style curriculum, which is riddled with “cleverness” that causes resentment in the classroom and arguments at home.
The following are some of the most effective lesson planning practices that will increase your students’ knowledge retention and increase class engagement.
Multi-sensory approach – Involve senses into your lessons; auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tactile, etc. The multi-sensory approach allows for parallel processing of the information and strengthens memory. Students who process both auditory and visual learning are more likely retain and later retrieve learning.
Make the lesson meaningful. From the beginning to the end, make sure that your students have sufficient background knowledge, that their misconceptions are discussed, and that new questions are answered.
Make your assessment engaging. Allow your students to make a choice among assessment(s); a narrative, a quiz, a project, a mind map, application of new learning to prior learning, etc.
Chunk the learning, especially if the learning content is new to students. For instance, middle school science is full of new vocabulary. Make sure that your students know the terminology prior to the lesson. Review the new vocabulary throughout the lesson, apply it, have students use the new terms in their examples. Don’t overwhelm with new and difficult material. Chucking allows for higher comprehension. On average, short term memory holds about 4 bits of information.
Always come back to the question(s) you want your students to master. Use informal assessment to scaffold learning.
While engaging and strong lesson plans are a foundation of your classroom, the use of interactive notebooks should not be overlooked. The interactive notebooks should be clear notebooks, free from distracting designs, especially for older students. The interactive notebooks are used for students to write their notes, Knew -Learned – Want to Know charts, mind maps, diagrams, new vocabulary and their use, additional (students – teacher) questions/thoughts and comments.
The interactive notebooks are valuable resources for both teachers and students. They are a record of engagement, comprehension, effort, and the reference for knowledge review.
Lena, M. Ed.