As an educator at the University of North Georgia (UNG), I spend my time with preservice teachers, preparing them for K-12 classrooms. The information that I share with my preservice teachers can also be valuable for instructors in higher education. I have discovered that many of our preservice teachers are apprehensive about the program when they transition into teacher education. The angst is largely based on what to expect as they navigate their classes in the program. Let me share one approach that I have found to be invaluable in reducing anxiety and preparing instructors to teach their own classes.
Many of us who teach, whether in higher education or K-12, experience some anxiety about lesson delivery. Over time, many become comfortable with the content, specifically the knowledge base that Shulman (1986) refers to as content knowledge. However, some educators eagerly want to learn how to execute the various segments of their lessons. For instance, many preservice teachers are more concerned about how to teach the content (Jackson, 2015) than the content itself. Schulman (1986) classifies the ability to teach content as pedagogical knowledge. Having knowledge about the content is critical to teachers’ instruction; however, Ayers (2015) posits that having sufficient knowledge of content does not automatically suggest that a teacher can adequately deliver instruction of the content. In answering the call for concern, I decided at the start of the academic year that I would do my best to help ease this particular anxiety. I wanted to create a template that our preservice teachers and instructors could utilize, which aligns with state standards, reflects pedagogical framework, and includes pertinent instructional language to support preservice teacher instruction. Guided by Intern Keys, which are standards used to rate teachers on several performance indicators including professional knowledge, instructional planning and instructional strategies (Georgia Intern Keys), I designed a strategy lesson plan template (See appendix).
There are multiple goals for creating the lesson plan template. For one, I wanted the template to mirror a framework of how teachers could teach students about strategic reading. Harvey and Goudvis (2007) describe strategic reading as “thinking about reading in ways that enhance learning and understanding” (p. 23). While it is important for preservice teachers to demonstrate a command of subject matter (Georgia Intern Keys), it is also necessary to provide a framework for them to launch a lesson, from introduction, through teaching and closure, which is clear, sequential and makes sense (Georgia Intern Keys). As a result, I incorporated Pearson and Gallagher’s (1983) gradual release of responsibility model for instruction in the lesson plan template. Gradual release of responsibility is an instructional framework which promotes modeling of a strategy, followed by guided, collaborative, and independent practice respectively. I also wanted to provide language prompts that preservice teachers could borrow as they model and provide guided as well as collaborative practice for their students. I adapted and added sentence starters from Harvey and Goudvis’ (2007) as well as Harvey, Goudvis, Muhtaris & Ziemke’s (2013) texts. Harvey and Goudvis (2007) state that what and how teachers speak “shapes and expands thinking” (p.36). To this end, it was critical to have the Pearson and Gallagher’s instructional framework and Harvey and Goudvis’ language prompts in one document. Additionally, I hope that instructors at the university would be able to utilize the template as a teaching tool to support preservice teacher learning. Vygotsky (1986) describes zone of proximal development as the scaffold more experienced peers offer to help learners reach their full potential.
Here, I explain the layout of the lesson plan template in detail and provide rationale for each decision. One of the Intern Keys for excellence is beginning a lesson by connecting students’ previous learning to new information (Georgia Intern Keys). As such, the language prompt I include first in the template for introduction is “last week…or yesterday,” which indicates a commitment to connecting students’ previous learning. Next, I include the stem question “have you ever,” which is a method of eliciting responses from students, thereby linking their background knowledge to new learning. In keeping with the pacing and sequence of a typical lesson, the teaching segment follows with a stem statement which introduces the day’s lesson with the phrase “Today readers, we will be.” Teachers are then prompted to define the comprehension strategy that they are teaching (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) by including potential key words or sentence starters. Best practice suggests that teachers not only tell, but show students how to engage in a target strategy (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007; Pearson & Gallagher, 1983), thereby making comprehension instruction explicit and meaningful. After this, preservice teachers are cued to do a Think Aloud (Davey, 1983), where they “verbalize their own thoughts” as they model the target comprehension strategy to their students (p. 45). In keeping with a gradual release of responsibility (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983), the template further includes opportunities for students to engage in guided practice, before participating in collaborative and independent practice. Examples of the language prompts within the template are “try it with me,” “try it with a partner,” an adaptation of turn and talk, which is a collaborative strategy that affords opportunities for all students to participate in the lesson (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007). The template culminates with closure, which allows students to share how they used the strategy. Pearson and Gallagher (1983) highlight that the gradual release instructional model is important to effective teaching and student independence. Offering language prompts within the lesson plan framework allows greater opportunities for refining teaching practice and increasing confidence.
This template offers not only a strategy lesson plan for preservice teachers, but also exemplifies a methodical approach to help students practice and assume more responsibility for comprehending course material. It teaches students to strategically approach their reading instruction. Additionally, the template offers all educators an opportunity to deepen their understanding of lesson planning frameworks. This innovative tool may help reduce anxiety in implementing and teaching lessons. With practice, educators will gradually internalize the sequencing, pacing, and necessary language of a lesson and ultimately possess stronger self-efficacy towards administering strategy lessons and, potentially, other lesson structures.
Ayers, C. A. (2016). Developing Preservice and Inservice Teachers’ Pedagogical Content
Knowledge in Economics. Social Studies Research and Practice, 11(1), 73- 92.
Davey, B. (1983). “Think Aloud: Modeling the Cognitive Processes of Reading Comprehension.”
Journal of Reading, 27(1), 44-47.
Jackson, Annmarie, “Language Teacher Development: A Study of ESOL Preservice Teachers’ Identities, Efficacy
and Conceptions of Literacy.” Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2015.
Georgia Intern Keys, Candidate Assessment on Performance Standards, 2013
Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2007). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension for
understanding and engagement. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.
Harvey, S., Goudvis, A., Muhtaris, K. & Ziemke, K. (2013). Connecting comprehension &
technology: Adapt and extend Toolkit Practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Pearson, P.D., & Gallagher, M. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary
Educational Psychology, 8(3), 317-344.
Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational
Researcher, 15(4), 4-14.
Vygotsky, L, S. (1986). Thought and language. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of
Strategy Lesson Plan Framework
Connection to previous learning/ activate to concept:
”Last week/yesterday we . . .”
“Have you ever . . .”
“Turn and talk to your partner about what you remember about . . .”
B. Teaching/Instructional Strategies & Learning
Purpose/goal of the lesson:
“Today, we are going to . . .”
“I’m going to teach you how to . . .“
Strategy Definition (prompts will vary based on strategy):
“When good readers make predictions, they . . .”
“Visualizing means . . .”
“Context clues will help readers . . .”
“First, I want you to watch me as I show you how to . . .”
“I am going to read some of the book. Watch how I stop and Think Aloud about what will happen . . .”
“Try it with me. As I read, I want you to… make a Prediction . . .”. (Repeat again)
“Try it with a partner . . .”
“Try it on your own . . .”
“Turn and Talk with your partner about your prediction . . .”
“During my reading, I made a prediction . . .”