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Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Arch Nemesis - The Lesson Plan

For my educational methods classes I have to write lesson plans.  I would think it would be a good experience, because practice is good.  If I don't learn how to write a lesson plan now, I'll never be able to lead effective lessons later.  The only problem is, I find nothing more painful than writing these lesson plans.  I'm currently in a science methods class, and am writing a unit of lesson plan on the topic of chemistry.  I am finding this to be a nearly impossible task. 

For one thing, my professor teaches me nothing.  Nothing at all.  She sits and talks and talks and has me read things that just don't quite connect in the ways she pretends they do.  And everything she says to me just doesn't quite make sense.  And the last time I've seen an elementary science lesson taught was when I was in elementary school.  For some reason she hasn't had me observe any science classes, so I really don't have a good sense for what K-6 students scientific abilities are.

Another problem is that the area of science I for some reason decided to write my lesson plans about is perhaps the one area I know the least about.  I thought this would be a good idea.  I hoped it would give me more confidence in my ability to teach chemistry concepts.  Instead, it has made me less confident in my ability to teach science overall, since I am having such a hard time coming up with just one unit of lesson plans.

I sit down at my computer, prepared to write some objectives, and get stuck after, "Students will..."  Students will what?  I don't know.  Hopefully learn something. 

I feel like (and hope that) if there are actual students involved, I would have a slightly easier time writing lesson plans.  If I knew what my students were capable of, if I knew what else they were learning in their other subjects, if I knew what their interests were, if I knew what supplies I actually had access to, if I knew all those things, I would have more direction in my lesson plans.  I will be able to make it a little more interdisciplinary and connected.  The way it is now, I have a faceless class of non-existent 4th graders for who I am supposed to write 10 wonderfully exciting chemistry lesson plans.

Instead, I feel like I'm spewing out too many random activities with too little actual learning.  This is partly because I know so little about the subject itself. (I never knew how little I knew about chemistry, even at the 4th grade level.  It's embarrassing, actually.)  I am able to create plenty of fun sciencey activities to do, but I am not able to describe them to my professor's satisfaction on paper.  And then when I get to the part where I have to make sure the students actually learned something, I have to somehow describe, word-for-word, what will go on in this theoretical class discussion of non-existent 4th graders.

So, while I think writing in-depth lesson plans for practice is a good thing, I feel that in order for it to make sense in my mind and in order for me to actually write effective lessons, I need to have an real class to base the lesson plans on.  Also, the professor needs to trust that I'm not an idiot and just because I don't very explicitly write something on the lesson plan (such as, "I will tell the students that the bleach we are testing is dangerous to touch and should definitely not go anywhere near the mouth" or "I will circulate the classroom while the students are completing the activity") doesn't mean that I won't do it when I'm in front of the students.

2 Comments:

Anonymous macdo said...

Nope, it's not easier when you've got real students with real exams at the end of the year.
There is a short prayer teachers (at least one of them) often mutter to themselves as they run down the corridors towards the next class. It goes like this: "Oh God god god god god what am I going to do with them today?" Then you get to the classroom door, take a deep breath... and bluff your way through the next hour :-)

I don't know what I'm like as a teacher, but I've become a really good poker player!

1:22 PM  
Blogger nick said...

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5:58 AM  

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