Over the course of Curriculum Design I have learned so much on what it means to plan a strong, engaging, and overall effective lesson. After reading Larry Ainsworth’s Rigorous Curriculum Design, and proceeding through each weeks module, I have found great importance in the different steps that must be taken to plan a lesson. During my time in this class two of the universities program standards truly stuck out me. These standards were:
2.2 Engaging Students in Learning: Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.
4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes: All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment
The engaging students standard means to me that I as an educator must provide a lesson that is not only working student cognitive development, but also provides an overall interest in the subject that I am teaching. This will allow for students to really connect with the lesson. Ainsworth says, “Engaging is synonymous with interesting and compelling. Experiences produce personal insights that are deeper and longer lasting than explanations” (Ainsworth, 2010). This idea of engagement is thought to bring out personal connection and result in a lasting learning. In this class I had the opportunity to create a lesson plan and brief outline of an entire unit. Within this unit I tried to implement these kinds of lessons throughout. For example placing students in role-play scenarios was a technique I tried to have students really connect with the material.
Looking towards the instructional outcomes standard I found that so many different aspects of lesson planning fall under this category. This professional standard means to me that all lesson targets are clear, and that student voice is incorporated throughout the lesson and assessments. This results in the evidence of student learning. Ainsworth talks about the importance of pre-assessment, which prefaces this standard because to understand what you want students to do you, must know where they are at initially. This next leads into the importance in the actual writing of learning targets (Ainsworth 2010). This is a skill that I feel that I have achieved great growth in. In the unit I began with a set of targets and after much revision found the appropriate way in how to communicate to students what I wanted in a clear manner. The last piece of this lies in the realm of assessment. This class has taught me that informal assessments accompanied by closure assessments are some of the most important aspects to a lesson because it provides reflection on student learning. I have found that it is not only important to plan assessments with purpose, quality, and adjustability, but to also make them both formative and summative (Ainsworth 2010). In my unit lesson after revising my activities I tried to follow each with some form of assessment allowing me to gage where students were at in their learning. In addition I put a closure assessment always providing opportunity for student voice to appear.
Having experience actually implementing all that I have learned into this class has taught me so much. I was given the opportunity adjust my work as I learned and was able to mold into something more suitable for students to learn. This will hopefully be apparent when I get the chance to teach these kinds of lessons to my students, and will cultivate student learning. Overall this experience has taught me so much about lesson planning, but has taught me the most about what it means to revise and reflect. This not only will result in my lessons to continue to change, but will also result in higher student achievement when it comes to these lessons. In the future I plan to continue to use the revising process that was given to me in this class and continue to put to work the words and ideas proposed by Rigorous Curriculum Design.
Ainsworth, L. (2010). Rigorous Curriculum Design. Englewood, CO: The Leadership and Learning Center