How to Create a Lesson Plan That Reaches All Types of Learners
What is the objective of your lesson? What do you want your students to be able to do? Entire segments of undergraduate work in education are devoted to teaching the composition of an educational objective. However, in the day-to-day effort to engage our students, we can get so caught up in a great activity that we forget to first drop anchor with a solid objective. We can develop better lessons that engage all of the different types of learners in our classrooms if we drop that anchor and develop lessons that teach to the nexus.
Nexus? What does that mean?
Research has indicated that 50% of the general population prefers left-brained learning activities. That is, they work best with content that is logical, rational, and sequential. The other 50% work best with perceptions, patterns, images, feelings, and emotions. They are right-brained and deal best with the whole picture.
Most left-brained learners can take information presented in right-brained ways and transfer it left. Right-brained learners, however, have great difficulty internalizing material presented from a left-brain point-of-view. Teaching to the nexus is literally facilitating a meeting of the minds: left meets right.
Hook. Instruct. Practice. Assess. These are the four components of a lesson plan designed to teach to the nexus. If the hook (emotional engagement for students) and practice components right-brain oriented, then instruction and assessment should be rooted in the left-brain. By consciously alternating right and left-brain components in a lesson, teachers can reach students who think globally without losing those who are sequential and ordered.
Experiments have shown that people who tend to use one side of the brain more than the other find it difficult to “switch” when necessary. However, when the weaker side of the brain is stimulated and encouraged to cooperate with the stronger side there is a great increase in ability and effectiveness. The implication for teachers is clear. Creating HIPA structured plans not only reaches more students, it also provides practice using both modalities.
Get HIPA Deep
To create a HIPA formatted lesson, begin with the end in mind. Write a strong educational objective. Use any objective-writing format that you prefer. If you don’t have one yet, here’s the format we use at the Insight Learning Foundation:
The learner will (insert verb and skill here) by (plan for assessment).
Once you know where you are going, pick a place to start. This is your hook. A hook emotionally engages your students. Dare to be different; catch them off guard! Build your instruction piece next. Follow it with practice and repeat as often as is appropriate for the content. It is entirely possible for your lesson to have 4 mini-instructions each followed by short practice. Finally, your students are ready for assessment … and success.
Teaching to the nexus will make you a better teacher and your students’ better learners. Here’s what I say to my clients:
Where right meets left, students meet success.
— Nathan Bryce