Adapted from Tools for Teaching by Joe Paprocki, Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, CT: 2000.
Spontaneity is nice, but lesson planning gives you the foundation for spontaneity. Twenty minutes of preparation may be the difference between a changed life or just another class session.
Lesson Planning Tips:
- Know your calendar: If you do not have a calendar for the year, talk with your Director of Religious Education, consult your text, take a retreat, and construct your calendar. Identify how each lesson builds upon the previous one. Having a teaching calendar minimizes stress and takes students along the journey of learning.
- Get to know your Text: Your text is your primary resource, you should know it well.
- Get to know your Class: Know what will work for your students, and what will put them to sleep.
- Know your goals and learning outcomes for each lesson: Have a concrete goal for each lesson, “My students will leave class believing ___________.”
- Get your materials ready: Take the time to prepare before you get into the classroom. Familiarize yourself with the concepts and visualize teaching the class.
- Have plan B ready: Lessons flop and that’s okay, it’s not okay if you don’t have a back-up plan.
** Without proper lesson planning, you are vulnerable to boredom, lackluster performance and poor participation. **You are free to be creative, over plan, and consult other resources.
Retention of material is greatly increased with multi-sensory experiences. Learn to integrate different activities into your lesson plans to ensure your students “get it.”
- Texts: An invaluable source with excellent information.
- Writing: Some students are uncomfortable speaking out loud, so have them write down their reflections and ideas.
- Videos: Consult the internet or a local library for pertinent videos.
- Prayer: Be creative in your opening and closing prayer sessions. Have students pray, light candles, play music, attempt silent prayer, pray for the needs of the world, or pray on lesson objectives.
- Lecture: Gets information across in a direct way, yet overuse could transform your students into sponges that absorb and don’t interact with the material.
- Games: Make class time fun with purposeful games. See our Game Links.
- Posters: Invite children to make posters to express themselves in non-oral ways.
- Music: Use music to engage the imagination and discuss the message of the song.
- Group Work: Clearly define the directions and instructions, and set time limits.
- Guest Speakers: The sight of an unfamiliar face in class intrigues students.
- Role Plays: When children act-out scenarios from real life or Scriptures, they engage the lesson on a deeper level.
- Storytelling:No one is ever too old to listen to a well told story.
- Show your students individually that you care for them.
- Lesson plans that build on each other create momentum for the following lesson.
- Give students responsibilities for each class time.
- Call a student if they miss a class, just to see how they are doing.
- Ensure that students walk away from each class with at least one “golden nugget” from the lesson.
- Foster relationship building among the students.
- Make class fun by involving diverse activities into your lesson plans.
- Pray for your students daily.
- Mail birthday cards to your students’ home address.
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