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As we've said in other articles in this series, creating an effective lesson plan is actually a pretty easy and straight forward process. It doesn't require you to be a rocket scientist (unless you are teaching a class on rocket science, in which case it could be incredibly helpful), however it does require you to think about what you want to accomplish and to plan accordingly. Therefore, here are five tips you need to know in order to create effective lesson plans:
Think the lesson through in your head. Creating an effective lesson plan means exactly that - planning. Take the time to think about what it is you want to accomplish with this lesson plan and what your students should know in the end. Some teachers actually include this as part of their lesson plan and call it "result." This is not really a necessary part of a lesson plan unless you hope to offer your plans to others. That's because you (hopefully) know the result you want before you start. However, writing it out can sometimes be helpful if you want to organize your thoughts.
Plan for distraction. We've said this before, but it bears repeating. Think about questions that may come up during class and be prepared to answer them. If you are discussing the chemical reaction that happens when Mentos and Diet Coke are mixed, be prepared for someone to ask if other common household items could do the same thing. Be prepared also to warn your students why certain things should not attempted at home (unless you enjoy irate parents calling to scream at you after their Persian rug was ruined by little Johnny running an experiment in the living room).
Keep your eye on the clock. Time yourself realistically so you know how long each part of your lesson plan is likely to take. Then add about 2-3 minutes to each section. This is simple logic. You are bound to have things happen to distract you in class, whether it's the kid who shows up late and needs to make a show out of it, or the kid who is brainy and asks more complex questions than the rest of the class is likely to understand or care about. At the same time. . .
Have three different end points built into your lesson. While it's important to make sure your material will not overrun the clock, it's equally important not to end too early. The easiest way to do this is to have several different end points. This way, you can keep an eye on the clock as you're actually teaching and you'll be able to stop when you need to or continue on if need be.
Plan effective homework. We touched on this before. Homework should not be pure rote memorization. Instead, it should stretch the child's imagination and make them really think about the lesson. Going back to the Mentos and Diet Coke, have them look on the Internet to learn about other chemical reactions that may happen when common household items are mixed. This will get them excited and re-enforce what they learned in school.