Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Lesson Plan W.A.L.T.Z. - Watch

An angel glides through the halls of our predominately at-risk environment. The school pays her to provide pregnancy related services (PRS) to enrolled young mothers. The school does not pay her to dedicate a portion of her inheritance to give these students books for their babies, which she does, as well. She procures books, and creates an elegant classroom display of first snatches of literature for the wee.

Yesterday, I walked a new mother into this ‘Books for Babies’ classroom. The plethora of options overwhelmed her. She gazed at one book then another. She carefully considered which picture book would best fit her month-old son. I loved watching this new mother contemplate everything with such thoughtfulness. The mere energy that now all of her decisions bore grand weight tickled me with delight.

Then I made the suggestion, "Why don't you let him decide?"

She wrinkled her face in a customary Ms. White is crazy grimace. She humored me. While viewing the cover of the third book, the boy smiled. He had chosen.

Now, we, the educated, know that an assortment of events could have taken place at that exact moment the parent displayed the book as an option for her child. The color scheme of the third book might have been more appealing than the previous two, or an instance of flatulence might have sparked the grin. We will never know, but we do know that he chose. As he will have many choices in his hopefully happy foundational life until he enters the doors of academia where the pickings are slim and plans aligned.

Or are they? Can we include students in the lesson planning process? I could suggest a modest proposal. All novice teachers should first print out their state's curriculum the first week of school. Then assign portions to students, K-12, haphazardly in a lottery (because we love lotteries in education) fashion. Allow these students to determine the execution of the lessons, and see how we fair during the accountability, appraisal and rating stages. In such a scenario we merely become moderators of a discipline, and not its teachers.

Obviously, we can’t eliminate our own profession.

However, a precise, rhythmic promenade between students and teachers will ensure that the customers of education are heard, and that the curriculum be taught.

Welcome to a WALTZ in lesson planning.

* Watch your students.
* Ask your students.
* Listen to your students.
* Teach with your students.
* Zing!


Learners dispense enormous amounts of input through their actions. One can watch students in many ways. There is the typical observation with the eyes or of the eyes--when the lights come on. Then there is what’s behind their eyes.
Step one: Observe students. Turn around. What do you they like? Judge their mannerisms, their attire, even their gadgets. Are you in touch enough with the age group you are monitoring to tell? If you can’t see your students you can’t lead them.

It took me a long time to look up from the plan to the pumpkins. Months passed before I noticed a pertinent item of importance. More than fifty percent of my class had ear buds dangling from their collars. Adding music during bell work affirmed them. When the music commenced, so did the work. Ringers had never been so peaceful.

Beneath the exteriors that we may get right only some of the time, behind the eyes--people process information differently. Add dominant learning styles into your lessons. Insert active and reflective, sensing and intuitive, visual and verbal, sequential and global exercises into your planning. This is a quick start to student inclusion. Create a diverse learning style environment to recognize student differences.

After viewing the curriculum information, brainstorm and research ways for: group work and independent work, real world applications and big-picture analysis, visual presentations and spoken explanations, and passage reading and passage skimming activities to take place.

When I first entered the classroom I recalled learning about sensory impact. I knew that if I were going to reach my students I needed to show representation of the main three: Tactile, Visual, and Auditory. But how, time wouldn’t permit?

A wise pedagogue instructed me to survey each class while the morning announcements ran. She asked me to ask the question: Were most of my students fidgeting with something in their hands, looking at the box from which the stream of information came, or leaning with their head cocked ear toward the speaker?

In this way teachers can summarize at a glance the dominant learning style of a class. By marking these findings in the grade book (T, V, A), you can easily direct any lesson toward the class’ dominate sensory impact.

A. in next installment! 


Mrs. Hanson (formally known as)

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