Letter of Advice to A Sincere Educator

The lesson plan provided below has been taken from a teacher, who is currently teaching geography to 6th grade in a well known school in Karachi, Pakistan.It covers the topic “Weather & Climate”.  Its organization, as provided to me by the teacher, is as follows:

Subject Class
Periods/Lecture 3 classes/week
Topic Weather & Climate
Learning Objectives ·         The weather & the people
Resource Material/Teaching Aid Books and board
Recapitulation ·         Weather is the state of atmosphere at a particular time and place.

·         Constant temperature recorded for many years is Climate.

Methodology ·         Chapter Reading will be done.

·         Weather and sources from which weather can be studied will be done.

·         Diagram will be drawn.

·         Climate and types of climate will be discussed in class emphasizing on equator climate.

Assessments/Evaluations ·         Question/Answers

·         Skill Book

·         Diagrams will be done

 

Analysis

It seems from the above lesson plan that the learning objectives include identification of various elements and aspects of weather and climate. The learning objectives focus only on identification and recall, whilst ignoring other levels of reasoning and topic exploration which are essential for cognitive development.

The only teaching aids utilized here are books and boards. After a small discussion with the teacher, I found out that technology is being utilized sparingly due to lack of funds.Nevertheless, there are other ways of incorporating technology as will be discussed later. It can easily be inferred from the methodology and assessment techniques that only surface learning is being explored and assessed.

Based on various psychological development models, I shall now propose to the teacher how to re-design her lesson plan, followed by a proposed lesson plan.

I strongly believe that anyone who goes into education, especially in Pakistan, where teachers are brutally underpaid, is a sincere human being and a change maker. However, I would like to offer my advice to teachers, who are struggling to be the best versions of themselves, but lack the resources to do so. advice 1So here it goes….. 

Advice to the Teacher

Dear Teacher,

I understand that you are trying to do the best for your students. I would like to make a few recommendations based on psychological and pedagogical models, which will help to improve the structure of the lesson in order to engage your class in higher order learning and which will be suited to their age.

First, I would like to suggest there-defining of learning objectives.Based on Bloom’s cognitive model, the first level would be of memorization or recalling of facts. Students would be required to recall what they have studied. This is already there in your plan. I would like to suggest that you take them a step further so that they can explain and interpret the concepts as well.

Blooms-Taxonomy-650x366
Bloom’s Taxonomy

To work towards a deeper understanding, have them explain what they have learnt by having them speak in front of the class. Ask them open-ended questions on climate change, to make them aware of global changes and see if they can associate what they have learnt with the phenomena in their surroundings.

Second, divide your learning objectives into four parts. I have provided a sample below:

  • List down types of weather and climates

Please notice that the above organization provides a clearer picture of how learning objectives can be presented in a coherent manner and also provide an opportunity for students to engage in exploration and collaboration.

Third, I would like to remind you that students of this age group (generally age 12) can deal with abstract and concrete concepts, and can also engage in systematic planning. It would be beneficial and engaging for the students to participate in collaborative projects and work on topics of value like climate change.

After my discussion with you, I realized that you had not listed any technological tools as aids, as they are not readily available in your school. I would like to mention here that technology is a powerful tool and is readily available. If you cannot find a way to incorporate it readily in your class, you can assign home work which can make use of technology in a holistic fashion. I would like to recommend that when you assign work, ask students to research the topic at home, using the internet and search for related content. They can be asked to explore the following sample topics:

  • Predict and compare various weathers/temperatures around the world.
  • How does the weather change?
  • Difference in weather in coastal and in land areas.
  • What are weather forecasts? Are they always correct?

Based on their research, they can be asked to submit one page research reports. Remember, they have entered into a stage where they can plan systematically. This hands-on report will strengthen their planning skills.

Engaging the students is the key to holistic development! According to the third and fourth stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy, application and analysis are crucial to develop a deeper understanding of a topic. Have your students record the weather at your location and have them search the internet for weather at another location and compare their findings with their own measurements for their city. This activity serves two purposes: to orient the students to the weather web site so they know how to enter a city, read and record the weather information, and access archived data for previous days and to introduce them to some of the graphs used to compare and analyze weather data (CIESCO).

I would strongly advise you to speak to your leadership. You mentioned that you do have computer labs with projectors available in your school. Arrange for an hour or two a week. Add satellite images to your teaching aids. Take them to the lab and have them view real time satellite images related to weather here. Help them understand the various related parameters like latitude and longitude. Remember visual stimuli forms 50% of the learning experience!

Discuss climate change issue with them, so that they can relate the topic with real-life scenarios. Direct them to check out this link. This provides an easy to understand approach to the topic. In addition, the length of the video is short, keeping in mind the varying attention spans within a class of students. Discussing such topics will also help their development in the affective domain, as they will begin to prioritize values and will learn to make informed decisions.

Moving on to the fifth stage of Bloom’s Taxonomy, have them evaluate the urgency of the global climate change crisis and what steps can be taken to improve the situation. This will aid their development in the affective domain again as they will learn to contribute to crisis and develop important values.

The climax of the topic would be a collaborative task. Advice 3Divide students into groups according to class strength, and have them produce an art work or a power-point presentation (if they are familiar with it and if feasible given the technological situation at your school) on what they have learnt regarding the climate change crisis. This will unleash their creativity and will have them produce an original piece of work, which is the final step in Bloom’s taxonomy. As an alternative have them develop a model of a barometer, and present its working and relationship to weather forecasting.

With regards to the assessment techniques, try to make continuous learning and formative assessments a part of the classroom, by providing room for improvement and giving feed backs on their work. I know you are limited by your school system when it comes to assessment format but try to incorporate feedback technique as much as you can. The grade based system which currently exists in schools is based on the reward-punishment model of the behaviorism model and does not provide a holistic view of a child’s learning. Hence you can work on your own to encourage improvement where you can.

Ask them open ended questions. This will help you to gauge their understanding of concepts as well as encourage out of the box thinking. This will also assist them in responding to situations, which will aid their affective development.

Please see my sample lesson plan, based onabove mentioned principles, according to your school’s format, below:

 

Subject Class
Periods/Lecture 3 classes/week
Topic Weather & Climate
Learning Objectives ·         List down types of weather and climate.

·         Explain and compare the characteristics of various climatic regions.

·         Differentiate between weather and climate.

·         Use these types to develop how to effectively adjust to changing climatic/weather conditions.

·         Develop an effective representation of weather conditions using simple technological tools like power-point/ art model.

 

Resource Material/Teaching Aid Books, board, satellite maps, computers, internet
Recapitulation ·         Weather is the state of atmosphere at a particular time and place.

·         Constant temperature recorded for many years is Climate.

·         Factors determining differences in weather and climate.

·         Reasons for climate change

Methodology ·         Chapter reading will be assigned as home task.

·         Weather and sources from which weather can be studied will be done which will include internet resources and satellite maps.

·         Students will be asked to research questions on internet like:

·         Predict and compare various weathers/temperatures around the world.

·         How does the weather change?

·         Difference in weather in coastal and in land areas.

·         What are weather forecasts? Are they always correct?

·         Recording, comparison and analysis of weather at different locations.

·         Use satellite images to discuss weather conditions.

·         Climate and types of climate will be discussed in class emphasizing on equator climate.

·         Climate change and its implications will be discussed.

·         Group project

Assessments/Evaluations ·         Open ended discussions

·         Question/Answers

·         Skill Book

·         Feedback on assignments.

Please remember to keep your students motivated. Happy teaching!

A sincere adviser.

 

References

Are weather forecasts always right? Retrieved from www.ciese.org/curriculum/weatherproj2/en/guidelessons.shtml

CIESE. Lesson Plans. Retrieved from www.ciese.org/curriculum/weatherproj2/en/guidelessons.shtml

 

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