I have often wonder what are the possible reasons why teachers add activities to their lesson plans. From, ‘makes the class interesting-to-we are expected to do so’, the reasons are plenty. But I think one of the most important of them is using the activities as an opportunity for formative assessment.
The other question that I have is, does one look for an activity or find one that appeals and integrate it into their curriculum design?
As time is always limited it is important that the activities planned should be authentic, relevant and mapped to the curriculum. In my present role of the areas that I work on is instructional design and as I observe lessons, read curriculum documents, and interact with teachers, I realized that using class time effectively is extremely important as time is always limited.
So here is a checklist that I use:
- Name of activity: Give a clear name to the activity and assign a code so that retrieval is easy.
- Subject/Topic/Concept: for which it would be used. Which concepts and related concepts does it connect with.
- Learning objectives: Once the topic has been identified, specify the learning objective(s) that it would address. Many times, this point is not taken care of by teachers with the result that teachers spend more time on certain learning objectives while some do not get the required focus leading to weaker understanding by the students.
- Learning outcomes: Identify and write the knowledge, understanding, skill or application that is going to develop through the activity.
- Success criteria: How will the students demonstrate their learning? Will they be writing a report, doing a poster presentation, participating in a group discussion etc. Success criteria helps make learning visible.
- Integration: Any cross curriculum integration that is being addressed. If so, perhaps a discussion and planning with the other subject teacher would add more value to the planned activity.
- Time: Keeping the time duration for the activity in mind. After all it is Return on Investment (ROI), only here it is time!
- Configuration: Would it be an individual activity or an activity to be done in groups. If in groups then how many members in each group.
- Supporting material: What supporting material will be needed. Printouts, anchor charts, online resources, stationary material etc. Writing this down can help organize better.
- Lesson plan: Complete description of the activity in the lesson plan. This not only supports the teacher but also help other teachers who may want to try the same activity with their students. Arrange the logical order of the activities. What leads to what.
- Risk assessment if any. Important and many times overlooked.
Planning activities or engagements are important as it does support student learning.
It only has to be done purposefully.