The media specialist must create effective plans for lessons and learning activities.
Most teachers begin a lesson with a 'springboard activity' - - an anticipatory set, ice breaker, launcher, bell ringer, or exploratory activity designed to motivate students to think that something interesting, something good is going to happen. Some students even begin to look forward to what might happen next.
All too often what happens is that the teacher launches into a boring lecture or a text-based, bullet-list PowerPoint presentation and in a few moments, all motivation is lost. Excitement generated earlier is lessened and it's back to school-as-usual.
Good planning is a crucial aspect effective teaching. Teacher librarians need to have clear ideas about lessons and learning activities that they wish to set up and facilitate. They must carry out the rigorous planning and preparation in order to be successful. Overplan rather than attempt a laid-back 'fly-by-the seat' approach to instruction.
Explore (1) Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning by S. Milkova, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at Michigan University. Also examine (2) Teaching Guide: Writing Lesson Plans from Colorado State University, and (3) Some Basic Lesson Presentation Elements - - outlines the Madeline Hunter method for direct instruction. Compare the elements and structures for lesson plans.
There are many different yet similar models for creating a lesson plan. In Building Treehouses for Learning (4th Ed.), Annette Lamb explains the following lesson plan elements:
- Springboard activity(ies) that motivate students and help them recall prior learning.
- Information exploration activities that help students experience, discover, learn concepts and build skills.
- Student involvement activities that include practicing with feedback, solving problems, and creating projects.
- Closure / transition activities that draw conclusions and help students transfer ideas to new learning situations.
Where can good lesson plans and plans for learning activities be found?
Teachers and media specialists do not always need to create lesson and activity plans from 'scratch.' Good lesson ideas and plans can be found. In most cases, they may have to be adapted and modified to meet local needs. The 'number one' recommended starting place for locating lesson plans and ideas is Thinkfinity from the Verizon Foundation. Thinkfinity helps educators enhance their classroom instruction with plans, interactive activities and other online resources.
Thinkfinity provides a wealth of educational and literacy resources for students, parents and after-school programs. The resource Includes these consortium partners:
Read Write Think http://www.readwritethink.org/
Science NetLinks http://sciencenetlinks.com/
Smithsonian's History Explorer http://historyexplorer.si.edu/home/
If you do not find the needed lesson or activity topic within Thinkfinity, then visit the Online Lesson Plans page at Teacher Tap from eduScapes.
The ASSURE model is helpful for designing lessons using different kinds of media. This model assumes that instruction will not be delivered using lecture and text book only. It allows for the possibility of incorporating out-of-class resources and technology into the course materials. This model is especially helpful for instructors designing online courses - - The ASSURE Model.
Developing / building a lesson plan
There is no one-right-way to create and develop a lesson plan. However most contain these following elements:
- Overview or synopsis - A brief explanation of what the lesson is about (Subject area, content topic, etc.).
- Audience - Specify the primary audience for the lesson. Recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work; that is, that a lesson suited to adult learners will not be appropriate for teens (motivation, interest), that a Gr. 5-6 lesson is not geared to K-1 learners (reading level, activities). Who is the lesson for - age / grade level(s) of learners?
- Setting - Where will activities occur - what type of school (public, private), room / facilities / equipment are needed?
- Needs - Why is time and effort devoted to this lesson activity? List the student needs; why this lesson is needed by learners.
- Goals / Objectives - Can be in terms of learning outcomes, objectives, or goal statements. Clearly explain what students are to gain from the experience.
- Time Frame - When will the lesson take place; how much time is needed? Is it one lesson, a unit plan?
- Assessment - How will students' achievements / performance be noted? Assessment does not necessarily have to occur at the end of a lesson; assessments can be varied and woven throughout a given lesson and its activities.
- Activities - Explain the ways that student activities will occur. Include the strategies and techniques the will be used. What are the lesson events and the sequence of occurrence?
- Materials - Identify the lesson materials that will be used; i.e., texts, resources, handouts, etc.
Note that Identifying needs is this type of lesson planning is not meant to be a full-blown needs analysis - - an instructional design process of greater depth that involves investigations to determine what are the perceived needs and tries to ascertain the actual needs, and determine whether they are one and the same.
The idea in developing lesson / learning activity plans is to provide enough information in the plan document that another teacher librarian or educator could adapt or replicate the activities. Today we can share those plans online with a global educator audience. Look and critique your plans to insure that you explain the details needed for others to understand and use. Often we assume that everything is clear when parts of the plan are in our own minds and not explained.
Read the perspective of a teacher librarian:
"It does take time to get to know the classroom teachers. I communicate with them in a variety of ways. Sometimes I get the idea for a lesson while walking down the hall with a teacher and I'll follow up with an e-mail with a proposed lesson. Sometimes we exchange e-mails only. Sometimes I'll join them for lunch or start up a conversation during a staff breakfast. Sometimes I request formal meetings for 20 minutes after school and there's always someone at a given grade level who will have the time to meet with me. I work with a truly wonderful staff and they are great about sharing what is happening in the classroom. I do want to add that it is really important to have a grasp of the literacy series, the Social Studies curriculum, and the Science curriculum, in addition to Indiana's Academic Standards. I certainly don't have all of that information memorized, but I know where to find it, and before talking to a teacher about possible media and computer lab lessons, I make sure I understand where they are with regard to unit, theme, etc." (Oct. 2009), SLMS Bridging Theory and Practice.
Media Specialist and Technology Coordinator
Mohawk Trails Elementary School, IN
Maybe you are thinking of lessons and activities that could be taught in the library media center? Look online:
Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Lesson Plan Database from AASL (Requires Account setup and Login)
Remember that lessons and skills taught in isolation and not directly related to student needs and learning goals, not integrated into classroom curriculum will likely be soon forgotten.
Information Problem Solving Research Models at Baltimore County Public School, MD
Library Lesson Plans from North East Independent School District, TX
S.O.S. for Information Literacy from the Center for Digital Literacy at Syracuse University
Utah Curriculum Resources from the Utah Education Network
Read the perspective of another library media specialist:
"I try and attend every planning session I can. I have two grade levels that plan as a grade level each week for the next week. I attend both of them each week. It is so easy for me to know (what) they are doing and look for connections because I'm an active participant in their planning. The other three grade levels don't plan that way, so I have to be more observant of lunchtime conversations or have little chats while their students are checking out books. All of my grade levels have year long plans and I try to keep up with them and shoot out ideas here and there when I can. You have to be proactive. You can't wait for it to just happen, but be out there trying hard to make those connections every day." (Oct. 2005), SLMS Bridging Theory and Practice.
Carl Harvey II
North Elementary School, IN
America's Public School Libraries: 1953–2000.
National Center for Education Statistics.
Becker, Jonathon D.; Hodge, Cherise A., and Sepelyak, Mary W. (2010). Accessing Technology Literacy: The Case for an Authentic, Project-Based Learning Approach
This whitepaper (PDF document) builds a research-based case for the central importance of “doing” as part of technology literacy, meaning more than just being able to answer canned questions on a test.
Best Websites for Teaching & Learning from AASL
Lamb, A. (2006). Developing Learning Environments: Planning Effective Lessons. Building Treehouses for Learning (4th Ed.). Vision to Action Publishing. ISBN 1-891917-08-0