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Lesson planning consists of deciding what content you want to include in a session, outlining the session, and deciding what tools you will use during the session. This section will help you structure and plan your session.

Choosing A Sample Topic
For some instructors, one of the most difficult parts of lesson planning is choosing a sample topic. Below are some tips and guidelines for choosing a topic.

  • Should be pertinent to the class content.
  • Should be an effective example you can use to demonstrate concepts.
  • Make sure you use it in a way that your students can apply to their own topics.
  • Some instructors like to use a funny or shocking topic, with the idea that students are more interested in a topic that is controversial or that an instructor normally wouldn't use (ie., legalization of marijuana, tattoos). If you choose this path, be sure to assess the audience to make sure they will appreciate your humor.

Class Outline
Depending on how comfortable you are with speaking in front of a group of people, you may want to write out anything from a short outline with a few basic concepts and sample searches in it to a script that includes almost everything you want to say. Sometimes scripts are helpful when you are first starting out, but as you teach more, try to pare down your notes to a smaller outline. This will help you focus more on the concepts and skills you are teaching since you will not be tied to a script. Here are some of the parts of your session you may want to include in your outline:

  1. Begin with an introduction - tell the students who you are and what your job is. Introduce your assistant or co-instructor if you have one. Give an overview of what you will cover and why it is important. Tell them what you want them to learn, including specific skills and concepts they should leave with (see Starting the Class).
  2. Divide the class outline into sections and include one major concept in each section.
  3. Include any 'canned' searches that you are going to use to demonstrate databases or catalogs.
  4. Include meaningful metaphors to describe hard-to-grasp concepts (ie., the library catalog is like a map to library resources).
  5. Create active learning exercises. Be sure to allow time to introduce the exercise, carry it out and discuss it afterward (see Active Learning).
  6. Determine and assign how much time you can give to each section.
  7. Ensure that your lesson flows from one part or concept to the next. Include well-defined transitions in your class outline. If you have a difficult time with transitions, write transition words (Such as 'our next step is . . .' or 'Now we will begin to . . .') into your outline (see Making Transitions).
  8. Leave time for questions and discussion at the end of the session.

Tools
Decide what additional resources you will need for your session.

  • Will it be most useful for students to work or learn in a hands-on computer lab?
  • Will you bring print resources such as books or periodicals to the session?
  • Will you use a board, demonstration computer or PowerPoint?
  • What handouts or web pages will be helpful during and after the session?

Exercise
Next time you plan a session, spend some time thinking about the goals and objectives of the session. Plan your session with those specific factors in mind. Create an outline, and as you are teaching, try to stick to the time limits you created for yourself.

For more information:
A Berkeley Compendium: Suggestions for teaching with excellence. "Section Seven: Giving Lectures That Are Easy to Outline." Available online at http://teaching.berkeley.edu/compendium/sectionlists/sect7.html; Internet; Accessed September 11, 2001.

Pregent, Richard. "Chapter 6 - Detailed Course Planning." Charting Your Course: How to Prepare to Teach More Effectively. Madison, WI: Magna Publications, Inc., 1994.

Price, Kay M. and Karna L. Nelson. Daily Planning for Today's Classroom: A Guide for Writing Lesson and Activity Plans. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999.