Lesson Planning Resources

Partly to deal with cases of the educator’s equivalent of writer’s block, but mostly because I’d like to continue to improve my teaching skills, I’ve tracked down some potentially useful resources that I know I’ll be referring back to in the future to help me with lesson planning.

1. Bloom’s Taxonomy resource:
Crowe, A., Dirks, C., Wenderoth, M. P. (2008). Biology in bloom: Implementing Bloom’s Taxonomy to enhance student learning in biology. CBE Life Sciences Education, 7(4), 368-381. doi: 10.1187/cbe.08-05-0024
Why is it of interest? This article presents methods of assessment based on Bloom’s Taxonomy to allow the assessment, and hopefully improvement, of the metacognitive skills of students. I chose this resource because it is specifically directed at educators teaching biology, and so is keyed into topic-specific goals most relevant to my classes.
How will it improve my instruction? Regular assessment of students’ cognitive progression will demonstrate when I need to adapt my teaching strategies to help my students achieve mastery of the subjects covered in class. The main article also links to supplemental material including concrete examples of how to create appropriate questions for assessment.

2. Characteristics of adult learners resource:
Willingham, D. (2013, Dec. 17). General format. Retrieved from http://www.danielwillingham.com
Why is it of interest? This page includes both a blog and articles that question theories around whether multiple intelligences and learning styles are useful to consider. The author critiques in detail the assumptions made and conclusions reached by educators and those researching various aspects of education.
How will it improve my instruction? Reading well-researched and probing critiques of current education research reminds me to question my own assumptions as well, leading to reflection and self-assessment, which then can help me improve my teaching skills. For science students in particular, research critiques can also prove useful examples of the sort of outcome expected when students are assigned a ‘critical analysis’ assignment.

3. Creating a positive learning environment resource:
Weimer, M. (editor). (2006). 10 effective classroom management techniques every faculty member should know [PDF document]. Available from http://www.facultyfocus.com/free-reports/10-effective-classroom-management-techniques-every-faculty-member-should-know/
Why is it of interest? This concise report consists of short descriptions of techniques used by instructors to create positive learning environments in their classrooms that have proven successful. That they are based on experience and not merely theory makes this resource particularly appealing.
How will it improve my instruction? Specific examples of how other have successfully created positive learning environments gives me some concrete places to start with, modifying the tasks and approaches to suit my own classroom and students.

4. Assessment resource:
Kelly, R. (editor). (2011). Educational assessment: Designing a system for more meaningful results [PDF document]. Available from http://www.facultyfocus.com/free-reports/educational-assessment-designing-a-system-for-more-meaningful-results/
Kelly, R. (editor). (n.d.). Put to the test: Making sense of educational assessment [PDF document]. Available from http://www.facultyfocus.com/free-reports/put-to-the-test-making-sense-of-educational-assessment/
Why is it of interest? These documents offer real-world examples of strategies that a variety of educators have taken, successfully or otherwise, to assess their students and their teaching from the perspective of those educators. They also include proposed solutions to problems encountered in the implementation of those strategies.
How will it improve my instruction? These articles have already drawn my attention to some issues around assessment that I hadn’t seriously considered (e.g., the possibility of over-assessment). Some serve as sources of examples on which to base my own assessment strategies, while others act as a counterpoint to remind me that I want to use assessment to increase self-awareness, but to not go overboard.

5. Instructional process/strategies resource:
Eison, J. (2010). Using active learning instructional strategies to create excitement and enhance learning [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://www.cte.cornell.edu/documents/presentations/Eisen-Handout.pdf
Why it is of interest? This document outlines active learning, and presents an evidence-based argument advocating for encouraging active learning in education. It outlines a number of specific, concrete examples of activities to use in classes to encourage active learning.
How will it improve my instruction? Although I already use some of the techniques outlines here, I don’t always do so consistently. This resource provides useful reminders of why the techniques involved in encouraging active learning are helpful, as well as providing new strategies that I haven’t actually attempted in-class.


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