Thinking back, I wish I had done more of this as a teacher. One of my former students was a semi-finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship and another was a National Merit Semi-finalist. Both of these students undoubtably could have and should have been allowed to take charge of their own learning and were definitely smarter than me. However, at that time, I still wanted to maintain control of their learning. What could I have done differently? I would have changed my lesson plans in a way I described for my teachers.
The lesson plan should start out so that students know what they are doing that day. It is titled and has the days objective or target goal. It tells the students and teacher what they will need to successfully progress through the lesson. These materials should be hyperlinked for easy navigation. The entire lesson does not need to be independent work, but it should allow students to progress at their own pace. Those students who are then ready to discuss, can. Those who need more time disseminating the information, can. Lisa Nielsen, who writes the blog, The Innovative Educator, seems to reaffirm these sentiments in her post, Rethinking Learning with A Child-Centered Lesson Plan.
Many teachers were skeptical of this. They have always used their lesson plan book and filled in the squares with some bullet points. They said what I was asking them to do would take up too much time. That this is something they only need to do for administration during evaluations. That is where I stopped them and said, no, this is something we need to do for our students, that the time it takes is very minimal for the benefits your students will receive.
I spoke to one of the teachers who accepted this idea last week. She created the lesson, linked it up, shared it with Google Docs and gave it to the students. How well did it work? I needed to talk to this teacher about a different topic, however, I was unable to do so. The reason? As soon as I walked into her room, the smile on her face went from ear to ear and gleamed with excitement to tell me how things are going. She said she was trying what we did in our teacher 1:1 class and it was amazing. Students were all over the place with their work. Those that were moving at a slower pace had target goals to reach on certain days. Those that were moving ahead were choosing to create and produce high level projects and most importantly, they were simply excited about this. The students had taken ownership and all students were advancing at a pace were they could succeed.
I am positive the sentiments expressed by the aforementioned teacher will not be an isolated case. It will be a positive epidemic that simply creates student success. For a simple lesson plan outline as mentioned above, you can click here. To get an idea of what this may look like, here is one of my own lessons with comments.