Lesson planning is one of the most crucial parts of your work in the classroom: Get it right, and it’s a great day of teaching. Get it wrong, and the lesson feels painfully long for both you and your students. Building technology into your lesson can be even more cumbersome, particularly as teachers and students transition to a more technology-centered learning environment. Setting classroom norms can take time. According to a study in U.S. News and World Report, in a study by CompTIA, 78 percent of educators believed technology has a positive impact on student learning. Great, but knowing how to incorporate technology into an effective lesson plan takes both practice and the right information.
We’ve taken a traditional lesson planning model and updated it. Our five-part guide to effective lesson planning with technology can be used for new common CORE objectives, or for lessons where you might not have considered using technology.
1. Create a Clear Learning Objective
According to a March 2014 research report from the U.S. Department of Education, a study of student learning objectives (SLOs) showed a positive correlation between the quality of SLOs and student achievement, to how effective a teacher is and class achievements. In other words, the tried-and-true standard of starting with “the end in mind,” with a clear learning objective, continues to be a marker for success in the classroom.
If you don’t have a central outcome in mind, every step of your lesson can be overshadowed by secondary skill-building opportunities. While these are a valuable part of the learning process, they’re not the purpose of the lesson, and you’re liable to lose important class time in extra steps that detract from your overall objective.
A strong learning objective connects to the overall theme of a unit and subject, and it should include the following components:
Make it specific
It’s clearly and specifically defined. Instead of stating, “students will be able to add,” make it specific, as in, “students will be able to add single digits, vertically, by counting on.” Though ours is an extreme example of an overgeneralized objective-the point is that the better you define a learning objective, the more effective it will be.
It should contain a measurable outcome. That sounds obvious, but when you add technology, it can be overlooked. For instance, you decide you want to use a smart board for your history lesson to better engage your students, but you might omit forming a clear assessment piece if you’re focused on technology solely as a means of engagement.
It includes one measurable and observable verb. The action in the lesson must be observable in some form. Analyzing as opposed to describing a character are two different sets of instructions resulting in different outcomes. But both sets of instructions can be assessed because the action is clear.
Most importantly, share the objective directly with your students as a “learning goal.” A great way to do this practically is to use a class ”thermometer.” Check-in with students through the lesson to see if you’ve hit the learning points. When the thermometer reaches the top, students have hit all the points of the lesson to have reached their objective, or goal.
2. Apply “Bloom’s Taxonomy” to the Objective
A taxonomy, simply put, is a way to organize complex information into a practical, applicable classification system. And Bloom’s Taxonomy is the most widely adopted structure for Kindergarten through graduate-level educators.
Bloom divided learning into three different leveled “goals,” and we can take a look at one of these: “Knowledge-based goals.” Katie Lepi of Edudemic offers an excellent guide to incorporating technology into a “Knowledge-based goal” lesson. When planning your lesson, you can choose from the following levels of knowledge-based mastery:
According to Bloom, Knowledge is the first level and the most elementary level. A student can recall an idea, term or procedure. When the student has mastered this level, she will move on to Comprehension. Here, a student can interpret or deduce information, but cannot yet apply this information to other areas. Next, a student will master the Application of information. At this point, a student will be able to assign related principles or abstractions to a specific example or situation. At the next level of knowledge-based mastery, a student will be able to use Analysis; a student has a clear understanding of all parts of a subject, can deconstruct these parts and apply it to a related piece of information. Synthesis is the next level of mastery. A student goes a step further in connecting related information with the ability to organize similar complex structures into an overall new pattern with logical parameters. The final level of mastery is Evaluation. A student can use these skills to inform a self-created evaluation process or rubric based on a justifiably educated perception of the subject.
Choose the level of mastery related to your learning objective and build your lesson on that. Then, you can think about how to use technology in your lesson. Gynzy’s lesson on the kindergarten standard of identifying the first consonant sound uses Blooms Taxonomy; the lesson applies “knowledge,” “comprehension” and “application” steps. It’s a lesson you can use on your Smart board to help students identify, understand and apply their understanding of the first consonant sound.
3. Incorporate a Level of Technology to the Objective
A recent 2014 SurveyMonkey poll shows that slightly less than a majority of teachers-between 36 percent and 48 percent depending on grade level- prefer Smart Board technology over all other classroom technology. But there are many choices. Depending on the lesson and availability, you can use:
- A Smart Board
- A projector
So, just how does Bloom’s Taxonomy apply to incorporating a Smart Board or iPad into your lesson planning? The most straightforward and simple way to develop an effective lesson plan using technology is to choose which level of mastery the objective aligns with and combine it with a level of technology.
Edudemic offers an excellent graphic organizer that organizes technology into the following categories:
Here’s how it works:
Substitution – Use technology in place of a classroom material for a simple tool as dices.
Modification -Use technology when a lesson can be significantly improved with it. A Smart board game as Jeopardy or a quiz that encourages application after a mini-lesson can improve student mastery on the taxonomical level of “Application.”
Redefinition – This is an important level of technology use in classroom because it necessitates a teacher’s own mastery of classroom technology, prior to her instruction. This is the level where a teacher would not have otherwise known a particular technology tool could be applied to a lesson unless she’s familiar with the technology already. Teaching your middle school students about the “Trail of Tears,” for example, takes on a very different reality for students—and you—if students use the “Google Earth” app on their tablets and follow along as you route them through the journey via your Smart Board, navigating their journey, and the sobering death toll, as you progress. The technology poignantly brings the scale and reality of the 270 year old event to life in a way reading from your text cannot.
Lesson plan example
So let’s look at a lesson where you can build in technology this way. Say you want your first graders to meet the common CORE Standard learning objective of telling time on the hour and half hour on both digital and analog clocks. You can substitute Gynzy tools, like our Telling Time Lesson as a more effective way to teach about time than using two real clocks; the size of the clocks makes it easier for students to see from around the room. Students have an easier time reading digital clocks and it’s a good way to scaffold the lesson, prior to augmenting it with Gynzy’s “Telling Time Lesson”. Intrinsic in this lesson is a level of modification as students are better served using the Smart board lesson, from the size of the face of the clocks, to the immediacy of feedback in using technology. During the lesson, you can even use Gynzy’s “magnifying tool,” so students can plainly see what number the little hand or big hand points to. As an extension of the lesson, Gynzy offers a “Clock Machine,” which displays analog clocks, to compare the different times
4. Set-up Your Classroom for Your Objective (and Technology)
Your learning environment should be organized to support both the learning objective and technology use. Consider if the SLO is inner our outwardly focused? Are students to be engaged solely with themselves to meet the objective? Are they working in groups or clusters to reach a common goal in the lesson? Will they be collaborating with other classes or the community outside as part of the objective or to reach their objective?
Let’s look at the “Trail of Tears” lesson, where the objective is to learn about the “Indian Removal Act.” This is a lesson that could work individually or in groups. But also consider that navigating technology and materials during a lesson can be cumbersome at first, and pair-supported learning can cut down on confusion; since students are more tech-savvy than ever before, students working together can sometimes explain things in a way you might not have considered.
5. Decide How You’ll Assess the Outcome
Finally, and most importantly, a clear learning objective will naturally point to the correct assessment tool. Whether you’re using formative assessments-those that help you evaluate learning during the lesson- like hand signals, think-pair-share or concept maps, or summative assessments- those that help you evaluate learning at the end of a lesson-like portfolios, quizzes or tests, an effective lesson will include both. But refer to your objective action when doing so. You wouldn’t use hand signals to assess whether high school students had “synthesized” information, though a think-pair-share approach would be valuable assessment feedback.
To create an effective lesson plan using technology, start with the mastery level for your students, choose a level of technology to apply to it, organize your class into the best learning environment and use at least two assessment tools. If you liken it to ingredients in a recipe, use the correct ingredients, in the correct order, to get the best results.
Today, more teachers are becoming confident using technology in lesson planning, where they see the practical benefits in both learning and classroom management. But it can still be a learning curve. But challenge yourself to incorporate technology into part of your day, daily, to help engage your students and prepare them for their future.