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Planning for classroom instruction is a vital element in any good teaching. Through it, learning becomes purposeful by provision of a framework that allows for implementation and assessment of instruction and development of goals. Actually, planning for instruction is the norm and this may either be collaborative or individual. Collaborative instructional planning is influential since we allow others to voice their opinions. Different instructors and different educational institutions may use different instructional methods and this tells us that there is no accurate procedure for effective instruction. In traditional techniques, institutions organize subjects into related courses and later delineate them into lessons and units. Whichever procedure is used to plan instruction, it is mandatory that professionals responsible for instruction and educational curriculum must concentrate on learners' needs so that unit planning, instructional preparation and lesson organization is effective. The objective of this research paper is to expound on the meaning of planning instruction. Moreover, the paper explains the different ways in which a teacher plans for instruction and the implementation of the same in the classroom.
Planning instruction is a continuous process that involves development of instruction rationale, setting of instructional goals, definition of objectives, development of an instructional evaluation method and creation of units of study that dictates the content in the course of study. Steps involved in this process overlap and are also interdependent. At the end of instructional activity, the instructor has to determine whether his learning objectives have been achieved. Therefore, planning instruction also involves application of measurement techniques that depict the students' outcomes. This is a step that helps us to align instruction with evaluation. Goals are one of the most important elements in instructional planning since they reveal learners' needs, societal intention of education and the content of the course. It is advisable that instructors in every level of instruction must reflect, communicate and include goals in instructional planning.
Where learners are involved in instruction, they tend to grasp more than where instruction is teacher centered. Therefore planning for instruction must focus on the learners' needs because they are in a position to explain what they comprehend. An instructor must create an association of what is to be learned and an evaluation of the content to be taught. Learning takes place if students associate what they know with what they are taught. Thus, instructors are advised to start from known and then proceed to the unknown. Our societies establish educational goals that involve attainment of ethical values on behavior, proficiency in fundamental skills, achievement of academic success in response to one's ability, respect for oneself and others in the society and the development of skills essential for one to become a productive member in society. We develop rationale in our planning for instruction to explain the reasons why we want to teach the course content. Rationale encompasses goals and eventually cultivates them to be a narrative of the subject. Every rationale must match the teaching environment and be applicable to the learners' needs (Devine, 2007).
There are different ways of instructional planning and these are purely primary descriptions of learning objective oriented activities and the course content flow between the learners and the instructor. The major categories of instructional planning are direct and indirect instruction but this is complicated since instructional techniques may be placed in several categories. One instructional method may be right for a particular lesson but this depends on learners' level of development, age, what the learners' already know, subject matter, physical setting, lesson objectives, what learners need to know so that they may succeed in that lesson and the available resources, time, space and people.
In direct teaching its implementation requires the instructor to organize content in advance. The most important thing to be put into consideration here is collection of information on prerequisites of the lesson. The teacher comes up with specific learning targets and tells the students the reasons as to why the content in the course is important. This is what helps the instructor to clarify the objectives of the lesson. Direct teaching is one of the methods recommended for teaching basic skills and specific facts and it's the most traditional instructional strategy. However, despite being a widely recommended instructional method, it is not effective in imparting higher order thinking skills. This is a teacher centered strategy and a teacher may cover a lot of content. This is a structured strategy that is purely based on mastery learning. Using this strategy allows the teacher to design instructional content that is appropriate to development stages and ages of learners (Adprima.com, 2010).
Cooperative learning involves making of decisions on what knowledge and skills are going to be learned. This is a strategy that requires the instructor to spare some time in preparation of students so that they are in a position to know how to work in groups. It is a misunderstood teaching strategy but when applied properly it may yield extraordinary learning results/outcomes. In this method, a teacher groups his/her learners heterogeneously into small teams. These small teams are grouped in terms of background, interest and ability. Picking the best strategy to use in assigning learners' tasks to be accomplished is one of its important features. By using this strategy, the teacher helps the students to be patient, more compassionate and less critical. Where cooperative learning is employed, students develop mutual responsibility. Every member of the team has a responsibility in learning as well as helping the teammates to learn. Learners keep practicing specific concepts until the whole team understands so that assignment given may be accomplished. One of the major advantages of implementing cooperative learning in classrooms is that learners are able to nurture and develop social interaction skills. Jigsaw classroom is one of the cooperative learning techniques cited to reduce racial conflict among school children, improving their motivation, enjoyment of learning experience and promotion of better learning. This method is however criticized since it is likely that bright students in such instructional techniques may act superior. It's also difficult for loners to share their answers since those who are aggressive tend to take over (Teach-nology.com, 2009).
In role playing strategy, a teacher clearly defines the problem situation and the roles to be played by different students. Clear instructions are vital in this strategy. The problem situation is introduced in a dramatic manner and students have the opportunity to assume different roles of others. In this case, they appreciate others point of view and may be able to explore solutions. Learners have opportunity in practicing of skills on content they have learnt theoretically in class. However, in implementation of this strategy in class, some of the students feel threatened and it may not be appropriate for large groups. Different steps are used in implementation of role playing technique. To begin with, the teacher selects a situation for a role play and tries as much to keep the needs and interests of students in mind. Situations selected are those that assist the learners to practice what they have learned theoretically. The best way to make role playing interesting is to allow the students to choose the situation themselves. Once the context has been successfully chosen, ideas must be generated on the manner the situation is going to be developed. In this step, it is advisable for the instructor to take into consideration the level of language proficiency for his learners.
Where role play has conflicts or problems this creates tension and it motivates the characters to talk making it more interesting. Appropriate language for the role play must be predicted. For role plays involving higher level learners, it becomes difficult to predict the language appropriate for it. The next thing for the instructor is to provide learners with clear role descriptions and concrete information. This enables the learners to play their specific roles with enough confidence. As the implementer of role play, you have to describe every role in a way that your learners strongly identify with characters. At this level, one should use ‘you,' the second person instead of third person ‘she' or ‘he.' Instead of asking for volunteers to act the role play in class, the teacher should take one of the roles and act it as a model. Where the whole class is in one role play group, some minor roles should be kept so that they may be taken away if the class has less learners than expected. Every role play has follow-up. When it's over, the instructor should spend some time debriefing. Debriefing involves asking for opinions from all students about the role play welcoming their different opinions at the same time. The main aim of debriefing is to initiate a discussion on what happened in the role play and what was learned. This is the point where the instructor may also use an evaluation questionnaire (Kodotchigova, 2001).
Brainstorming is an instructional planning technique that requires the teacher to select an issue or the topic of the lesson. In the classroom, the teacher must be alert following the proceedings so that he can intervene whenever the process is not working as expected or it's bogged down. There is listening exercise which makes learners to develop creative thinking and new ideas. An idea from one learner helps to spark off ideas in others and thus learners are assured of enough participation. This is a strategy that relies on the knowledge and experience of the group and thus cooperation spirit is created. However, this is a strategy that its implementation must bear in mind that its value to learners depends on maturity level. Where it is not well managed in the classroom, negative evaluation and criticism may be established. Some students in such strategies have difficulty to get away from reality. Students may end up being unfocused and it's a technique that can only be limited for a period between five and seven minutes.
Proficiency in oral skills is a necessity in lecture method. An instructor using this instructional technique provides a clear summary and introduction. Effectiveness is required and this related to scope of the course content and time. Lecture method often uses anecdotes, examples and its audience specific. The instructor provides factual material in a very direct and logical manner. It has that tendency of providing experiences that inspire learners and it's very efficient where the instructor is dealing with large groups. Instructional techniques that encourage learner participation are favored. This is what makes lecture method to be criticized since the learner in this case is always passive. It is difficult to gauge learning in lecture method since communication is primarily one-way. It's a method that cannot be applied to a group of learners who are below 4 years of age. However, there are lectures that involve discussions and the instructor should appropriately allow learners to ask questions. Students are mostly involved after the lecture and the instructor should allow them to clarify and challenge. This is a lecture that is often interspersed with discussions due to the questions generated by the learners. The teacher should be capable of “shifting gears” quickly. This technique has a disadvantage since inadequate time affects opportunities to discuss.
Questions outline needs to be prepared in a discussion method. Instructors using this method must have a careful planning so that they can guide the discussion. This is designed in such a way that experiences and ideas from the entire group are pooled. The best implementation method for a discussion in a classroom is to first of all provide a presentation, experiences or film that requires the learners to analyze. As such, all learners are able to participate in this active process. Demerits in discussion method include its time consuming; some students may dominate while others may totally fail to participate. It is impracticable where a class has more than twenty students and sometimes it may get off the track. Case studies are almost administered the same way as role plays. In this strategy, a case study is prepared and the instructor must define it clearly. It is another instructional technique that develops learners' problem solving and analytic skills. There is exploration of solutions in complex scenarios and learners in the long run are capable of applying new skills and knowledge. However, where there is use of insufficient information, inappropriate results may be obtained.
Whichever procedure an instructor uses to plan his instruction, the major aim is to make sure that the goals are achieved. As described above, there are several instructional techniques teachers may apply. Researchers posit that different instructional techniques have different effects on learning. A learner's recollection and understanding of instructional details varies depending on whether that instruction was visual, verbal or dramatic. Techniques using verbal instruction encompass telling students the details or to have them red ate details for themselves. It has fair and impressive effects on students since recall may be there immediately after instruction or a year later but it is the weakest of the three. Nonlinguistic representation features in visual instruction (Pickering et al, 2001). This involves graphic representations, pictographs, creation of concrete representations and mental pictures. Where an instructional technique uses visual instruction, this is highly rated than mere verbal instruction. The most effective instructional techniques are those applying dramatization techniques. In such techniques, learners observe and are involved in dramatic enactment of instructional details concerned. This has the strongest effect on learners recall of details both immediately and a year after instruction. Whatever technique is going to be used, planning for instruction should be taken keenly since even learners are capable of identifying a teacher who is not properly prepared for a lesson. Such instances create learner disinterest and less planning leads to less learning (Brown et al, 2009).
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- Brown, A. H. et al. (2009). Teaching Strategies: A Guide to Effective Instruction. London: Cengage Learning.
- Devine, J. (2007). Classroom Education: Organizing and Planning Instruction. Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/296425/classroom_education_organizing_and_pg2.html?cat=4
- Kodotchigova, M. A. (2001). Role Play in Teaching Culture: Six Quick Steps for Classroom Implementation. Retrieved from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Kodotchigova-RolePlay.html
- Pickering, D. et al. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria: ASCD.
- Teach-nology.com. (2009). How to Differentiate Instruction. Retrieved from http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/teaching/differentiate/planning/