Components of lesson planning

Characteristics of Adult Learners – individual differences and diversity

I currently teach every age from six to sixty and this course has provided me a great deal of reflection on the differences in learning represented. This includes the diversity and wealth of experience that adult learners bring with them.  For this reason I chose the following video from AARP that addresses ageism in a really thought provoking way.

I’m a firm believer in lifelong learning and that you can always learn something from someone. This video isn’t a tool per se but is a great reminder to be continually aware of this and the value it represents.

Creating a Positive Learning Environment – establishing classroom rules

There is a temptation to take it for granted that adults are preprogrammed with a set of classroom rules and behaviours.  That said, simply applying one of the many resources available to establish classroom rules for children would likely be resented:  “raise your hand to go to the washroom”??

I couldn’t find any great resources specific to establishing rules in the adult classroom but I did find this:

Who doesn’t love Minions?

It points out that there are likely some constructive rules that apply to every classroom. These can be negotiated and discussed with the adult learners to form guidelines and structures. There are also some non-negotiables that I would be clear about at the onset; mutual respect being one.

Motivational Techniques – Humour

I’ve always used humour but honestly never given much thought to the impact it has on student engagement and learning; viewing it more as my responsibility to be at least somewhat entertaining.

There’s a great deal of evidence on how humor positively affects levels of attention and interest in pedagogy but not a wealth of information on its application  in the adult classroom.  That’s said, Ted Powers article on “Engaging Students with Humour” offers some great practical advice based on his experience in with college students.

I especially liked the 3 step process of relating humour to content as an aide to relevancy and engagement.

Instructional Process/Strategies – Icebreakers

I love icebreakers they help set the stage and makes people feel at ease; helping to establish a collaborative and sharing environment. Depending on the icebreaker it can also foster teamwork for future work.  It also helps me as an instructor to gain some quick insight into the various personalities in the class.

The above site offers their opinion of the top ten icebreakers for the adult classroom. It definitely expands my repertoire and reminds me that icebreakers aren’t just for introductions but can be used at any point to re-focus and energize the class.

Media– PowerPoint

I have always believed in the power of PowerPoint (pun intended) but when I look back at some of my early presentation they are really cringe worthy. Often times they were a means to present information rather than being thought provoking and engaging.

I’m a fan of Guy Kawasaki and his pragmatic advice for the business world. He offers a quick three point check for power point presentation to make sure they are used appropriately and impactful.

  • 10– no more than ten slides
  • 20 – max twenty minutes
  • 30 – minimum thirty point font

I think it’s important to use media appropriately and even sparingly. The structure of 10/20/30 for PowerPoint forces you to be clear and concise.   It also provides a great guideline and opportunity for student led presentations.

With lesson planning there is a temptation to reach into our tool box without a lot of consideration for what tool we are using and why. Overall, this exercise in looking at lesson components and potential tools to helped me in generating mindfulness for why I am incorporating a particular component or tool into my lesson plan.


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