When I first started teaching, a fair few years ago, I didn’t see the point of lesson plans, they were onerous things that only needed to be done if you were been observed or during an inspection.
As I gained more experience of teaching I came to realise the value of lesson plans in supporting the process of learning and importantly making life easier for me.
My lesson plans were never inflexible and didn’t stop me changing when things needed changing. They were there for support not as a constraint. They were flexible and elastic enough, so if there were issues with topics or subjects I could change or add as and when required.
Along with lessons plans were resources, links and further reading. These gave me extension activities or additional resources if the learners needed further coverage. Each lesson plan had an aim and learning objectives. Clear indicators of what we were trying to achieve in that lesson with measurable objectives that would indicate if learning had taken place. Within the framework was signposts to other modules or units, as well as other topics in the module I was delivering.
At the time we didn’t have a VLE so I put all these resources on a website, some as HTML, but most in a PDF format. This enabled learners to access the plans, the resources at a time and place to suit them. Though at that time it was less at a time or place to suit them as home internet access was quite rare. Most would either access in college or from the workplace, though some did have the Internet at home. All who did use it told me how useful it was to them.
Some teachers I know do not agree with this, and plan only a week in advance at most. As I knew I had a lot of stuff to cover, I would plan for a whole academic year in advance. The flexibility I built in ensured that if things didn’t go quite to plan then I could accommodate those changes. Planning only a week in advance is leaving a lot down to chance, especially if you don’t have a scheme of work in place to ensure full coverage of the syllabus for the course.
Today the VLE is an ideal location for those lesson plans, the framework for a module. A place to store the resources, embed the links and signposts to the resources form the lessons and additional resources to extend the subject to those wanting more.
Some people argue that learners shouldn’t have access to the lesson plans. Well maybe not the detail, but certainly they should know the aims and objectives of the lesson. Access to the resources is also useful if not essential.
On most VLEs it is possible to “hide” resources from learners, by hiding the detail, but showing the core, learners will have a better idea of what they were suppose to be learning in each lesson.
If learners know where they are, where they have been and where they are going then they are in a much better position and research has shown that this can have a positive impact on retention and achievement.
By placing lessons plans on the VLE you not only make things better for the learner, but you also make planning much easier and faster in subsequent years. This can make life easier, giving you more time to do new things, enhance what you do already and increasing the amount of time you are supporting learners.