At this stage in my teaching career, I found it valuable just to articulate my lesson thoughts to another person. Just like when writing a paper, a certain amount of myopia sets in for me when planning a lesson. My closeness to the material might make me overlook otherwise obvious concerns. For example, I decided to have the students evaluate each other’s presentations by a rubric. However, I hadn’t included any assessment requiring the students to demonstrate that they understood the content of those presentations.
Similarly, when listening to other people’s plans, the first questions to pop into my mind were about the practical execution of their lessons, not the fundamental ideas underlying them. For example, Stephen’s Civil War tug-of-war lesson sparked my (and others’) interest and led to lively discussion about how to make sure it would go smoothly.
Let’s not limit ourselves to our peers for feedback, however. Whether or not a demonstration like the tug-of-war went as planned, I’m sure it would be engaging for everyone. If we then explained to the students what it was intended to show, and asked the students of ways to improve it, I expect they’d be full of suggestions. Indeed, as long as we’re transparent about what we hope the students will learn, students should always be available as a source of feedback about an activity’s efficacy. That, more than anything, is what I see Professor Pappas modeling in our course.
Following is the lesson outline that I brought to class for peer review. It’s intended to be one component of a ten-lesson unit on the Bill of Rights. The students will have already been introduced to the content of the amendments, and will have been studying the Constitution as a whole in the preceeding unit. I want to provide the students with an opportunity to engage with a specific topic a little more deeply, and perhaps learn about the process of legal reform inductively through it.
If anybody would like to take a look at it, I’d be much obliged!
I was unsure about this lesson study when I first received the assignment. I had created lesson plans before, plans that had usually turned out pretty well. I was not completely new at this and already had an idea of where I wanted my lesson plan to go.However, as I wrote the lesson study, I realized that it helped me focus my vague thoughts in a cohesive direction. It forced me to look further into my lesson and think about how it might play out in the classroom.
Even though it was a brief overview of an introductory lesson that I did not end up teaching (instead I taught the first lesson of the text book), I was able to think about how this lesson tied to all other lessons I would teach from this Social Studies unit. It helped me to prepare a more meaningful lesson when I actually wrote my lesson plan.
Explaining that lesson study to another person was equally helpful in understanding my own thought process. It has been said that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else and this is what happened. The more I explained my own lesson and justified my decisions in the lesson, the more I was able to understand the lesson itself and prepare for teaching it to my third graders.
Leaving class on Monday, I was not convinced of the Lesson Study assignment. I think a big issue for me was that I had already written an official version of my lesson plan, so when I finished the lesson study, everything felt like a hassle. For most of the sections all I did was reword what I had already written; no deep thought was changing the way I viewed thinking about lesson planning. On top of that, the presentation of our lesson studies seemed to drag on during class time. That is not to say I dismiss the importance of listening and conversing with colleagues about their teaching ideas and strategies. In fact, I enjoy that process. But this time around, things were taking too much time. As a future suggestion, I would advocate that every class period two students present their lesson study. I feel like this would give us more time to provide feedback to every topic, and, as a class, work towards better lesson design.
Now, after saying all the above, an interesting thing happened to me this week. I had to develop my second lesson – which was focused on values – and I found myself writing an initial outline using some of the techniques established in the lesson study assignment. Even though I had to eventually develop my writing into the official format, by sketching out the content, process, procedure, and evaluation beforehand made the entire process much more personal. By “personal” I mean that I felt much more connected to the lesson, unlike the feeling I get when using the formal pattern. So, while leaving class the other day I felt ambivalent, I just needed to give the technique a second look —
I need a second pair of eyes.
National Archives of the Netherlands Description: Ostrich reads newspaper of caretaker
The Lesson Study assignment was useful in the development of a potential lesson plan. My lesson study was about the reasons the American colonies were able to defeat the British Army in the American Revolution. I was going to do this by having a series of “tug-of-war” games with different caveats thrown in to represent different factors in the American Revolution. Through this the students will be able to gain knowledge of how the American Revolution in a more concrete way.
I had some concerns about the idea and wanted to come up with ways to modify it to make it better. There were some concerns about the separating of the kids between “bigger kids” and “smaller kids”. And it’s true, no matter how you try to split up the teams, you have to have a team that will win easily for the simulation to work. I have thought about other ways to simulate this possibly by having the kids create some kind of replication but I haven’t thought of a good replacement yet. Another concern was about the participation of the White team (France). While it would be very easy to have me and my CT participate in the instruction and take over the role as the French, I do think it’s important to note the French’s role in the simulation and the fact that they were closely following the war. I’m just not sure how to fully incorporate that yet.
Overall, I thought it was a good experience. I got some good advice for my own lesson and got good ideas from my partners. It seems we all have the goal to make learning more interactive, engaging, more fun, and more meaningful.