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Daily lesson plans lead to effective teaching

This is an excerpt from Survive and Thrive as a Physical Educator by Alisa R. James.


Lesson Plans

Lesson planning determines the core of what happens in a school day. If you want to have a successful day teaching, you must plan for it. Although the full-year plan and unit plans are the backbone of the planning process, the daily lesson plans are what make lessons come to life for your students. Daily lesson plans follow a specific format. Your school district may have a format for you to use; if not, you can create your own format or use the format that you learned in college. Resource 3.2 provides a sample format for planning lessons.

Lesson plans should be developmentally appropriate, which means that the skills match the ability of the students and provide for a gradual progression from the beginning of the lesson to the end. In addition, there are several aspects to a properly prepared lesson plan:

  • Anticipatory set or lesson introduction. The purpose of the anticipatory set is to motivate students so that they become interested in the lesson and understand the purpose of the lesson.
  • Connection to state and national standards. By providing a rationale for how the lesson and lesson objectives are connected to state and national standards, you will be able to demonstrate to others (i.e., administrators) that you are teaching in a manner that achieves the standards.
  • Lesson focus. The lesson focus provides a description of the focal point of the lesson.
  • Learning objectives. The purpose of learning objectives in a lesson plan is to determine what students should learn by the end of the lesson. A specific learning objective has an action verb, content, criteria, and a condition.
  • Safety. This includes general safety concerns regarding space, flooring, or field surfaces, as well as specific safety issues pertaining to a specific unit (i.e., goggles for floor hockey).
  • Materials and equipment. All necessary materials and equipment for the lesson should be identified. Always plan for more equipment than the number of students in your class.
  • Organization of students and equipment. Careful consideration must be given to the organization of students and equipment during the performance of tasks. Make sure that enough space is allotted for students to perform tasks safely.
  • Closure. The closure is performed at the end of the lesson to reinforce and check for understanding of the lesson objectives.
  • Reflection. It is a good idea to include a short reflection on the lesson plan form in regard to student learning or your effectiveness as a teacher during the lesson. There is a space for reflection on the sample lesson plan form provided in resource 3.2.

Content Development

A large part of lesson planning is developing content. Developing content is the process of sequencing movement tasks in a manner that has the potential to facilitate learning (Rink, 2010). Teachers may develop content to make tasks easier or more difficult, to have students focus on the quality of a task, or to challenge students by providing them with opportunities to test themselves and motivating them to continue the task (Rink, 2010).


Rink (2010) provides a framework for content development in physical education. This framework consists of four types of tasks: informing, extending, refining, and applying. Informing tasks are tasks that provide students with information about the task they are about to perform. An extending task involves making a task easier or more difficult to match the developmental level of students. A refining task is a task that focuses on the quality of performance or the proper technique. Finally, application tasks are used to challenge students and maintain their interest in a task. You must use these tasks to develop content that will lead to student learning and the attainment of student learning outcomes. There is no set sequence of extending, refining, and application tasks. After presenting the initial task, you need to decide what to do based on what you see (Rink, 2010).


For example, if you are developing content related to the skill of throwing overhand to a target for an elementary level lesson, the informing task could be to have students throw overhand at a target on the wall that is 15 feet way. To refine the task in a manner that would have students focus on the quality of the task, you could ask them to throw at the target but to focus on their follow-through by pointing their fingers at the target. To make the task more difficult, you could ask the students to move two giant steps back so they are throwing from a farther distance. Finally, to provide an application task, you could ask students to count the number of times they are able to hit the target in a specific amount of time.


These tasks can be planned for in a lesson; however, decisions regarding the implementation of these tasks are often made while observing students. As you observe students, you can determine how tasks should be changed for the entire class, small groups, or individual students based on their needs and their developmental level. By planning tasks that are easier or more difficult, or tasks that allow students to practice in a manner that enhances the quality of their performance, you will be able to make changes to tasks based on your observation of students while at the same time being engaged in the teaching process.


Although having a well-planned unit and a sound lesson plan can make teaching more effective, you will still struggle with various aspects of planning. Table 3.1 presents problems associated with planning that beginning teachers often face, along with solutions based on the information that has been presented in this chapter.


Read more from Survive and Thrive as a Physical Educator by Alisa R. James.



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