Lesson plans that start and end like this.

I read a really great article this weekend about lesson planning and about how the eight minutes usually allotted to starting a lesson and ending a lesson matter the most.

That's right.

Because if you don't hook them at the beginning, nothing in the middle matters and what you hoped to accomplish (or learn or achieve) by the end, well, it's gone.

The author compared lesson planning to writing a book and then getting people to read it: author must hook the reader at the beginning, convincing us that we are going to learn or feel or experience something that matters. This usually happens because we already know something about the topic (prior knowledge) or we fall into a rhythm with the tone and the pacing, or we know nothing about the topic but the author makes us want to. Sound familiar?

  • All teachers review the previous lesson
  • All teachers clearly state the lesson's topic, theme, and objectives
  • All teachers stimulate interest in the topics
  • All teachers use modeling, demonstration, and graphics.

While some authors have no idea where a book is going to lead when they start out, others do. For the purposes of this article, let's say the author does because, well, ALL teachers do, right? All teachers know what a child should know and be able to do by the end of a lesson, even if it's not the same thing for every child. Because like an author, every activity in between the beginning and the ending must connect and expand and build off of and between the activity before it and the one that is coming after it. And we check for understanding along the way:

  • All teachers re-teach when necessary
  • All teachers review with questioning 
  • All teachers summarize key concepts
  • All teachers encourage students to paraphrase, summarize, and relate
  • All teachers encourage students to check their own comprehension

Knowing HOW our start connects to HOW we end matters to everything else in between. Otherwise, as the author of the article states, we are haphazardly making our way through the experience and we are going to lose our students, our readers. 

What I also like about this article is that the author provides some practical ways to make endings and beginnings, well, magical (his word, not mine). I don't know about you, but when I hear the word magical, I think sign me up because I've always wanted to see pigs fly. I'm not sure that will happen, but you will get some good ideas for using YouTube to hook a kid, have excuses to throw footballs outside of physical education class, and be the next Mark Zuckerburg by creating your own social media empire.

Article Found Here: Eight Minutes that Matter Most

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