By Barbara Hooper, PhD
The class session guide can help steer each class toward the overall aims of the course. The class guide outlines both the content of the day and the instructional processes by which students will engage the content.
Jot down what you want students to know or be able to do at the end of the class session.
What's the overall point? Give your class session a bold name-like a newspaper headline-strongly linked to your objective(s). A title will convey the big picture of the session and can help keep planning the session focused. Use the title for headlining classroom materials to help students keep things organized.
What will you need to optimally facilitate the objectives? For example, a PowerPoint presentation, websites, a video clip, handouts, worksheets, textbooks with significant pages marked, supplemental texts? Make a note of these things and assemble.
What process will you use to focus everybody's attention on the session? Will a simple explanation do? A provocative question? Something interactive or a visual presentation such as a video clip? A review of the previous session(s) and how it dovetails with today? This can also be the time to evaluate the background information and prior knowledge of students. Ask a few pointed questions about students’ prior experiences.
Set up the session to elicit the thinking processes you want students to use. Through what sequence of processes will student engage the content and how long will each segment take? Will the day begin with student discussion of preparatory readings? A case or problem? Is there a lecture component to the session and should it be at the beginning or end? Will there be any large group discussions or activities? Any individual or small group work? How much time for that? A practice segment? Write up step-by-step instructions for the session procedures.
Any new words or phrases? Make a list of the new terms introduced in the session. What processes will involve students in actively exploring and using new terms? Students will need to know not just the textbook definitions, but how you interpret and use them as well.
How will you find out if students are achieving the day’s objectives? End-of-class time for a question and answer? A quiz? A quick in-class writing assignment? Remember: Questions need to be such that responses display newly learned skills or increased core knowledge directly related to the session-plan objective(s).
Establish how to close the session. What points will be re-emphasized? What questions posed? Will student be asked to summarize key points themselves? How will students know where the class is going next?
Do you have any students with disabilities, ESL students, guest speakers, etc. with special accommodation needs? Take all of this into account as you create the class session guide. Once the guide is finished, flush out the details: Create the homework assignments, materials, and assessments called for in the plan.