Have you ever been under pressure to plan a lesson but had very little time? Unfortunately, this happens occasionally to every teacher, experienced or otherwise. It can happen to substitute teachers without plans, classroom teachers needing some material for a block of time, or subject teachers who may wrap up a lesson sooner than expected. What do you do?
There is an answer. Besides choosing a great lesson from Clarendon Learning, there is a method you can use called Lightning-Fast Lesson Planning. The steps that follow will help you organize an engaging and interesting lesson, and it should take you no more than 15 to 20 minutes of planning from start to finish.
- Choose the Topic
It can be related to a previous lesson or a random topic. Do not struggle wondering if the topic is interesting. A topic does not make a class interesting, it is the presentation to the class that stimulates the students. Choosing the topic should take you less than 2 minutes.
- Locate Information
Use the Internet or another resource to locate information and content related to the topic. For example, run a quick Google search such as: “About (topic)”. There will be many results, but pick only one of them. Do not get tempted to explore all the listed sites. This will slow you down. Print the content for your use only. It is not for the students. Keep it as brief as possible. This should take you no more than 5 minutes.
- Read the Content
Quickly read through the content. Find about 8 to 10 interesting sentences. Highlight them. Depending on the content, this should take no more than 3 to 5 minutes.
- Gather Index Cards
You will need 1 index card for every 3 to 4 students in the class. Write one of the highlighted sentences on each index card, or you can use small slips of paper. Number each card or slip of paper. One of these will be distributed to each group of 3 or 4 students during the lesson. Time: 3 minutes.
Okay, now you are ready to walk into the class with your lesson. Begin the lesson by using the ever-popular KWL Chart. Ask students the first two questions: What do you already know about (topic)? What do you want to know about (topic)? Record and display the responses for all students to see.
Place your students into groups of three or four. Distribute an index card and a blank sheet of paper to each group. Instruct the students to discuss the sentence and a “secretary” will record responses. The responses will be to the 5 Ws and the 1 H questions: What, When, Who, Why, Where, and How. All questions may not be used for every sentence. Give about 2 to 3 minutes per index card for each group. The index cards will be rotated throughout the class. This part of the lesson will take the most time.
Once each group has had at least 5 of the index cards, bring the class back together and complete the KWL chart’s final question: What have you learned? You can re-ask the second question as well adding: What more do you want to learn? Record the responses, and based on feedback, you may choose to expand on the information with more questions to stimulate discussion. Wrap it up by asking a question that can be debated by the class.
All of this was planned in just 15 minutes, and if you follow your plan, the lesson will be engaging, interesting, and a success. With that said, however, this type of lesson is only suggested when you are in a pinch. The most effective lesson planning takes much more time, energy, and input. They will also include assessment tools, alternative approaches for learning and much more as you already know.
Nevertheless, with Lightning-Fast Lesson Planning you can have a lesson prepared for your class in just 15 minutes. And depending on the success of the lesson, and the students’ interest, you may also choose to expand on it in future lessons.
Share your own idea for quick lesson planning. Also, tell about a time when you were in a pinch either as a substitute, classroom, or special subject teacher. What did you do?