Here are 8 great ideas to help you get a last minute lesson planned:
1) Think about the materials you have.
When putting a lesson plan together at the last minute, there is no time for buying popsicle sticks or finding 30 plastic bottles for an activity that you found through a Google search. Stop and think about what you already have available to you. Most teachers have paper, scissors, art supplies, and in some cases computers. You need a mental inventory of what you have to work with before you can begin.
2) Keep the goal of the lesson in mind.
What do the students need to understand at the end of the lesson? The activities in the lesson must require direct use of the information that students are expected to learn, or even the most exciting lesson will not be successful.
3) Begin the lesson with an open-ended question.
In NYC, this question is called a Do Now, but for the rest of the world, it’s really just a question that provides an opportunity for teachers to offer a connection between the lesson and the lives of the students. When the question is open-ended, the discussion can become very interesting and provides a perfect transition into the information. To save time and paper, just write the question on the board, have students answer it in their notebook, and circulate the room to ensure participation.
4) Use graphic organizers.
I have a full repertoire of graphic organizers that I can use in classes. The great thing about T Charts, Foldables, Venn Diagrams, and other tools is that they require nothing but blank paper and something to write with. If you’re trying to plan a lesson at the last minute, graphic organizers are a legitimate and productive use of class time, while using minimal supplies.
5) Group work, group work, group work.
When you’re planning a last minute lesson, it’s likely because you are overworked, exhausted, or insanely busy with grad school. You don’t want to stand in front of a class and fight for their attention. Put the students into groups, and allow them to explore the topic while also building interpersonal relationships. You can have students use the textbooks, computers, or other classroom resources to research and then present a topic. They can create posters, brainstorm ideas, answer questions, and perform skits. Remember to maintain the goal of the lesson, and be creative.
6) Educational videos.
UnitedStreaming.com is an outstanding resource for teachers of all subjects. You can search a database that contains full-length videos, documentaries, and interesting clips. Many of the films have supplementary materials for teachers, including lesson plans and questions that are specific to the video. This allows you to put together an academically relevant lesson while appeasing the visual learners.
7) Play trivia.
This can be done for almost any topic, it requires no materials, and students love it! Place students in groups (four is a nice number), and have them take out a sheet of paper. You will read questions aloud, and each group has about a minute to answer each question. The group with the most answers correct at the end can receive a prize to increase motivation and competition. In addition, students have to whisper so that other groups don’t hear their answers. This activity works great as a review before tests and quizzes as well.
8) Have students write.
Depending on the topic of the lesson, there are numerous ways to have students practice writing. They can write letters, essays, raps, poems, lab reports, stories, or opinion pieces. This is an excellent last minute lesson because it requires very few materials and reinforces a skill that most students need to work on. Also, you may be surprised how much you can learn about the students by reading their written word. As always, be creative and be sure to stay on topic.
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