Written by Susan Nourse, AmeriCorps member serving at Celerity Lanier School.

One of the most important parts of running an after school program is creating a killer lesson plan. You want your lesson to be fun and engaging, but you also want it to be practical, and achieve the learning goal you have for your kids. Here are the steps that I take when making my Wordly Wise lesson plans:

Lay out your goals

First think about what you have to teach them and what do you want them to learn from your lesson.

Set goals for your kids in your lesson plan. When I make wordly wise lessons, I know that I want my kids to be able to recognize the words in the future and be able to understand them. We always aim for higher reading comprehension, and I want to teach them to read carefully and thoughtfully.

Look at your constraints

Now's the time to ask all the questions about the limits your lesson may have. How much time do you have to teach the students? Where is you lesson taking place? What access to materials will you have?

These questions are going to help you narrow down what is feasible and make you lesson plan more practical. It will also let you know what you have to get done and how much time you have to do it.  When I'm creating my Wordly Wise lesson plans, I know that I have 60 minutes twice a week, and I know what lessons I have to get through each day.

Make it engaging

This is the fun part of lesson planning. This is where you get the kids up and moving, and don't just teach them the material, but have them learn and engage with it.  Sometimes coming up with ideas is easy; they just come to you. Other times its not.

This is probably one of the only times its okay to steal someone else's idea and make it your own. If you see another corps member who has done something with their kids that was effective, try it out! Look on the internet. I've gotten some of my best ideas just browsing on the internet, like, vocabulary jenga, or concept mapping.

Be Flexible

Odds are your lesson isn't go exactly how you planned. A lesson that you planned that you thought was great and engaging might fall flat with them, or they might respond really well to something  you weren't that excited about.

Don't take it personally; sometimes you just have to know your audience. I know that my kids usually respond well to being able to move across the room in stations, or by making the lesson into a game or competition. But that's not always a guarantee. Have back up plans in case your students aren't responding well to a new idea to fall back on.

Although creating a lesson plan may be difficult and time consuming, having a great lesson plan will help keep you on track while teaching and help create the best possible lesson for your kids. 

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