A well-designed lesson plan can make teaching easier and more fun. You can focus more on connecting with your students during the class since you no longer have to worry about improvising the lesson structure while teaching.
A lesson plan isn’t always necessary in offline teaching. An experienced educator can get by without one in an offline classroom environment. But an online class needs planning in advance. You are at the mercy of technology; you don’t want to leave anything for the last moment!
This article will tell you all about the essentials of making a lesson plan for online teaching. It will give you an overview of things you should focus on and things you should avoid.
To begin with, you need to keep the following points in mind while creating a lesson plan for online teaching:
- Understand the skill level of your students.
- Determine what materials & resources you need for the online class.
- Decide the exact structure of the entire duration of your online class (if it’s a class of 40 minutes, you need to specify individual breakups to describe the amount of time allocated to each activity).
- Perfect the use of technology in advance. You cannot leave it until the last moment.
- Determine the size of your class and plan accordingly.
Now let’s check out some tips to make a great lesson plan for online teaching.
Top tips to make a lesson plan for online teaching
1. Understand the skill level of your students
It’s imperative to assess the current skill level of your students before making an online lesson plan.
You must evaluate their skill test in advance through online tests and other assignments relevant to the subject you are teaching. At the end of each class, you must evaluate your students. Make sure you provide them with some homework to practice after the end of each live session. They don’t have to always know that you are evaluating them. But in the back of your mind, you should always be gauging their knowledge level.
Knowing the core competencies of your students and their areas of weaknesses will help you strategize your lesson plans better. Also, keep in mind the individual skill level of each student. While this might not be always possible when there are many students, you can easily implement this in a small group. Not all students have the same level of learning ability. Your lesson plan should have enough room to address the needs of those who lag behind.
2. Set a clear lesson objective
Writing down a clear lesson objective is a must for online teaching. You have limited time to pool multiple resources and make the lesson engaging for the students. Therefore, it is imperative to spell out the lesson objective in precise terms.
What do you expect your students to achieve at the end of the lesson? Are you going deep into a single topic or providing them with an overview of a somewhat broader area? Your lesson objective should provide an answer to these questions. For example, you must decide if the focus of your lesson is on helping students master a particular skill by making them practice it or achieve conceptual clarity on a specific topic.
A clear lesson objective will help you in selecting the exact material for your live teaching sessions. In offline classes, you get the liberty to be somewhat flighty if you like and jump from topic to topic. But you cannot afford to do that in online classes. Your canvas is limited since whatever you teach has to be supplemented with audio-visual material. So you must define a clear lesson objective in advance.
By the way, if you want to learn how to be an IELTS teacher, whether online or offline, check out this article.
3. Incorporate visual elements and props
An online lesson should ideally incorporate many visual elements because it’s hard to concentrate in a live class for long. If the students have to continue staring at you as you talk endlessly, they will quickly lose focus. Therefore, it’s best to make generous use of audio-visual material.
Here are some ideas to incorporate visual elements and props in your online lessons
- Use videos instead of written instructions. Teach them with multimedia content instead of written notes. Create fun videos that explain the subject matter lucidly and use subtitles to explain the main points. Depending on the subject, the use of music will add to the appeal. You could mail them the videos before the class, and also share them during the class to introduce a bit of variation. If you find it challenging to make videos yourself, you could share links to interesting videos from YouTube and other platforms that connect with your subject matter. Just remember to keep the content age-appropriate.
- Use Google Slides. Presentations are great visual tools to explain core concepts to students. You could create online presentations using Google Slides and share those during your live session to keep the students engaged. One way of doing this is by explaining the concept verbally during a live session and then sharing the presentation to reinforce the key points. You can also create narrated presentations using many online tools.
- Use a whiteboard. Whiteboards are becoming a popular aid for teaching online. You can create visualizations using online whiteboards helping students to understand the concepts better. Using tools like Creately, you can collaborate with students on the same canvas using synchronous editing. Your videoconferencing software might even feature its own native whiteboard app.
- Use real-life props. You can make your lesson fun by using real-life visual props related to your lesson. You could just pick the relevant objects from your home and show them to the students on camera. This is particularly effective with young learners but can be helpful for students of all ages.
4. Give your lessons a clear structure
Your lessons must have a clear structure. For example, if you are taking an online class of 60 minutes, you must ideally divide your class into four slots of 15 minutes each. You must specify in your lesson plan the modus operandi for each slot.
For example, the first 15 minutes could be devoted to the teacher explaining the topic to students through direct verbal teaching. Then, the next 15 minutes would be spent on sharing slides, videos, etc to illustrate the points better. Then, the third slot could be used for student interaction. And the final slot could be utilized for evaluating students.
Ideally, you should mail the lesson structure to your students in advance so that they know what to expect when they attend the class.
5. Include homework and assignments
Homework and assignments should be an important part of your lesson plan to encourage students to continue learning after class.
Instead of sticking to the traditional essay format, give them assignments that enable them to use multimedia tools. Have them prepare YouTube videos on the core concepts they have learned. Ask them to prepare online slides to illustrate and explain a specific skill. If you are teaching subjects related to science, it would be interesting to have them create explainer-style how-to videos.
Also, include collaborative activities to let the students interact with one another in various online groups and forums. You can create a Facebook group for this purpose and share resources through an online discussion board.
Remember that the students miss classroom interaction. So enabling students to communicate with each other using various online tools should be an integral part of your lesson plan.