The Effective Lesson
There are certain ways to improve and create an effective
lesson.
1) Direct instruction is a type of instruction
that occurs when a teacher transmits information directly to students,
and structures a class to reach a clearly defined set of objectives.
It is especially good when teaching welldefined information or
skills that a student must master. It isn't as effective when
the aim of the lesson is learning concepts or exploring and discovering.
2) Another way of improving a lesson is by
orienting the students to the lesson before it begins. At the
beginning of a lesson a teacher should establish a positive mental
attitude of readiness in their students. This mental set can be
established in these ways:
* The teacher should require the students to be on time for the
lesson, and start as soon as the period begins. This establishes
a sense of seriousness and purpose.
* Next, the teacher needs to arouse the students sense of curiosity
or interest in the lesson.
* Humour or drama can be used to establish a positive mental set.
* In starting a lesson, teachers must give students a map of where
the lesson is going and what they will know at the end. By stating
the objectives, it enhances the achievement of those objectives.
3) Review the prerequisites. Teachers need to
ensure that students have mastered the skills needed beforehand
in order to link the information that they have already acquired
with the new information they are about to receive. A review could
just remind them of what they did the previous day. Generally,
just asking a few quick questions will help before starting the
new lesson. This will remind students of what they know and give
them the framework that they need to incorporate the new information.
4) When presenting new material there are some
things that the teacher should keep in mind:
A) Lesson structure: Lessons should
be logically organized. Information that has a clear wellordered
structure is better retained than less clearly presented
information.
B) Lesson Emphasis: Effective teachers give clear indications
of the most important elements of the lesson  by saying
that these elements are particularly important. Repeat important
information and bring them back into the lesson whenever
appropriate.
C) Lesson clarity: An effective lesson has clarity  the
use of direct, simple, wellorganized language to present
concepts. Wandering off into digressions or irrelevant topics
interrupt the flow of the lesson and detract from the clarity.
D) Explanations: Effective teachers also use explanations
in their lessons and explanatory words (i.e., because, in
order to, consequently) and follow a pattern of presenting
a rule, then an example, then the rule again, when presenting
new concepts.
E) Worked examples: These are used for teaching certain kinds
of problem solving techniques, especially in math. A teacher
will present a problem to the class, then work through it
and explain their thinking at each step. The teacher is
modelling the strategies that an expert would use to solve
the problem, so that the students can mimic these in similar
situations.
F) Demonstrations, Models and Illustrations: It is important
for students to see and have hands on experience when appropriate
throughout their learning. Visual representations are retained
in the longterm memory more than when the information is
only heard.
G) Maintain attention: Straight, dry
lectures can be boring and bored students soon stop paying
attention to the lesson. Teachers should introduce variety,
activity or humour into the lesson to liven it up and maintain
the students attention. However, too much variation can
be harmful to the lesson  there is a balance that must
be achieved.
H) Content Coverage and pacing: An important factor in effective
teaching is the amount of content that is covered. Simply
enough, students of teachers who cover more material, learn
more material than other students. 
5) Conduct learning probes. Teachers must be
constantly aware of the effects of their instructions. Just because
students seem to be paying attention, does not mean that the information
has been successfully received. Teachers must regularly
probe their students understanding of the material being presented.
Learning probes are the various ways that teachers can ask for
brief responses to the content of the lesson. They give the teacher
feedback on the students levels of understanding. They can take
the form of questions to the class or as brief written or physical
demonstrations of understanding.
6) Check for understanding. The purpose of the
learning probe (see above) is to check if the students have an
understanding of the material. Wait time is also important. This
is the amount of time that the teacher will wait for the students
to answer their probe question before going on to another student.
Research has found that teachers tend to give up too rapidly on
students whom they perceive to be low achievers, which tells the
student that the teacher expects little from them.
7) Watch for calling order. In classroom
questioning, calling order is a concern. Teachers often call on
volunteers when asking a question, but this allows some students
to avoid participating in the lesson. This can be solved by asking
a randomly selected student.
8) Choral response is favourable. This is a
favourable method to use when there is only one possible response
to the question.
9) Use seatwork properly. Inclass seatwork or
independent study is often misused. Student time spent receiving
instruction directly from the teacher is more productive. In order
to use this time properly, there are few recommendations:
* Do not assign seat work until you are sure that the students
can do it.
* Keep seat work assignments short. About ten minutes of work
is adequate for most objectives.
* Give clear instruction.
* Get students started and then avoid interruption. Circulate
among them to be sure that everyone is underway before attending
to the problems of individual students or other tasks.
* Monitor the independent work. This keeps the students on task
and makes the teacher available for questions.
* Collect the work and include it in grades. One of the major
problems of seat work is that students see no reason to do their
best on it because it has little or no bearing on their grades.
Students should know that the work counts towards their grades.
It is a good idea to save some time at the end of a lecture to
go over the answers to the questions and allow students to exchange
or check their own papers. This will give the students immediate
feedback on their work.
10) Assess performance and provide feedback.
Each lesson should contain an assessment of the degree to which
students have mastered the objectives that are set for the lesson.
It could be done informally, with the teacher asking questions
to the students, or with the use of independent work as an assessment.
As well, a teacher may use a quiz to assess understanding. Feedback
is important too. If students are learning everything that is
being taught easily then maybe teachers can pick up the pace of
their lectures. On the other hand, this feedback may reveal that
students are having misunderstandings with respect to the material,
and teachers can then reteach the lesson and focus on the steps
to get students back on track.
11) Provide distributed practice and review.
When students practice and review things over time, this increases
the retention of the knowledge. As well, teachers should assign
homework in most subjects, especially at the secondary level.
This gives students the chance to practice skills learned in one
setting at one time (school) in another setting at another time
(home). Homework generally increases achievement, particularly
of the teacher checks the homework and gives feedback.
Related Links
Educational Psychology
Good Teachers
Childhood
Development & Education
Student Diversity
Students Needs
Motivation
Achievement
Anxiety
Learning
Environments
Dealing with
Misbehaviour
Testing Students
