Using Lesson Plans to Monitor Teaching and Learning in Preschool
The Importance of Monitoring Preschool Lesson Plans
Lesson plans are used to help teachers deliver lessons optimally to their students. Each lesson plan should contain an outcome part at the end designed to include information concerning how well the children have reached the learning objective (LO) of a lesson. This information can be used for further planning. Monitoring lesson plans firstly helps us assess actual lessons, by extracting from the latter apparent strengths and weaknesses.
Secondly, effective and well designed lesson plans should make it easy for teachers to obtain a variety of information concerning all aspects of the lessons taught. Moreover, while acquainting them of the class's learning, lesson plans should also inform their teaching. However, although looking back at lesson plans can help teachers judge which activities were or weren't successful, drawing conclusions on individual children's actual learning may require further individual assessment through structured observations.
Finally, monitoring lesson plans should help teachers "plan for planning". A critical examination of a lesson plan is bound to highlight the positive and negative aspects of the latter. Its design and structure for example, could be changed in view to improve planning, teaching and lesson delivery.
What to Monitor in a Lesson Plan?
There are a variety of elements of a lesson plan you can monitor. Here are some examples of the most significant parts or elements of a lesson plan teachers should care to assess.
Were the lesson's main learning objective and subsidiary aims optimally set? Were they adequate for the children's cognitive level and developmental stage of learning? Did they take into account previous learning?
Set activities, differentiation and extension
Were the activities provided effective in helping the children attain the LO optimally? Were they pitched at the right level by being mindful of the children's diverse abilities? Was differentiation effectively planned for if applicable? Were there extension activities provided for fast learners?
- All round learning/ Learning styles
Did planned activities offer a variety of learning experiences by providing learning opportunities in all areas of development (cognitive, emotional, social etc)? Was the delivery or assignments of activities varied enough in terms of teaching and learning styles including auditory, visual and kinesthetic ways to do so?
Materials and resources
Were the materials, resources and equipment to complete planned activities optimal, safe, enough, available to all children?
Teachers' answers to these questions constitute actual examples of how to monitor preschool lesson plans in view to assess and potentially improve preschool teaching and learning.
How to Use Lesson Plans to Monitor Teaching and Learning
What follows are some suggestions to help teachers answer the previous questions about what to monitor or assess in a lesson plan.
How can we tell if the class reached well the LO? The children's enthusiasm, their ability to give answers, or to actually do what the diverse set activities required of them and how well they did in those... all are essential elements to consider. If it is difficult to tell during the lesson, you could use a plenary at the end. This should recapitulate the learning that occurred or which should have occurred during the lesson and you can test children's learning by asking informal questions. A game relevant to the lesson taught can sometimes be a great plenary. Paying attention to children's participation in the plenary should give you a good insight on your teaching and the children's learning in any particular lesson.
Activities, differentiation and extension
Informal monitoring of the class on task during each activity, will help you identify how appropriate these were in helping children reach the LO. Pay particular attention to slower learners and check that the differentiated activities provided for them if any, were also adequate. Similarly, assess extension activities for faster learners if applicable. Did they have enough to do or did they manage to finish the extension activities before the majority of the class?
If you followed your lesson plan, you are likely to have fulfilled the requirement of "all round learning." The activities provided should have given your students opportunities to carry out some literacy work, some number work, in the same time, before, after or between some activities in which they may have had to use their creative sense, have a think or feel of emotional or social understanding etc. If not, identify what areas of the curriculum was missing, and how or what sort of activities related to your taught topic and linked to your LO you could have included in order to fill that gap. Similarly, different aspects of your lesson should have offered auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners something, whether in the material or content delivery or in the actual activities or tasks' design or accomplishment.
Lesson Plans can Help Design and Deliver Outstanding Lessons
Well designed, well structured and thorough lesson plans can sometimes be the key to excellent lessons, hence never undermine the planning part of your teaching job. Although assessing or monitoring past lesson plans cannot help you go back and make poor lessons good ones, it can inform future lessons. The examples of how to monitor preschool lesson plans or the consideration of the essential components of any lesson plan here examined, should be integral to any successful lesson plans for outstanding lessons.
Lesson Plan by Kokeshi - http://www.flickr.com/photos/kokeshi/110418455/
Teachers planning by Judie Baxter - http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/266827450/
Children on task by Michael B - http://www.flickr.com/photos/aboyandhisbike/4471626674/
Learning Style by Langwitches - http://www.flickr.com/photos/langwitches/4094918145/
Author's personal knowledge and experience