According to the tenets of behaviorism, learning occurs as the result of environmental stimuli that cause an obvious change in behavior. Behaviorists support the use of lesson plans for teaching purposes, as a tried and true method for accomplishing learning objectives. According to Madeline Hunter, the principal of UCLA's laboratory school, Seeds UES, a lesson plan should be structured, consistently containing specific key elements to maximize the learning experience.
Preparing a student for learning by stating an objective for the lesson is the first step of the behaviorist's ideal lesson plan. It is also essential to motivate students by explaining the relevance of the material through exploring the benefits of learning that information and stating the expected outcome of the lesson. Handouts or other visual aids to prepare the student as soon as he enters the classroom are considered effective ways to immediately gain the student's attention. Using a "hook" to capture the imagination and interest of a student is considered part of preparing a student to learn, as a required prerequisite to beginning the lesson.
Once the teacher has stated clear objectives for the lesson, and the students understand what is expected of them, she proceeds with teaching the material to the class. Using graphics or other visual and auditory aids, the instructor explains the material. Students are encouraged to actively participate in the lesson for a better understanding of the material. During this part of the lesson, the teacher guides the students through exercises intended to reinforce information through repetition and practice.
Key to the behaviorists' approach to learning is the idea of obvious proof that a student has learned the material presented through a demonstration of material mastery. Evaluating progress made by students is an essential part of any lesson plan. Through classroom practice, or a question and answer session, a teacher assesses how well the students have learned the material presented. By checking student progress, the teacher can back up and review material if needed, or move forward when certain elements of the subject matter are mastered by the majority of the students.
Students are instructed to independently complete an in-class or homework assignment directly related to the material covered in the lesson. The purpose of the exercise is for the teacher to see how well the students understand the material. This exercise is graded.
As the final step to a structured lesson plan, the teacher finishes discussion about that subject matter to prepare for the next lesson. The test or homework exercise is graded and discussed. The lesson is reviewed as a final wrap-up. Last-minute questions are answered. Then the teacher introduces what will be covered next in class.
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