Education 65.04/67.04/613.1 (Science Education)
Professor J L Lemke

Assignment # 1: Lesson and Unit Planning


To give you practice at thinking through all aspects of planning a science lesson in the context of the goals of a larger science unit.


You will write out a planning statement according the the Guidelines below that will include your objectives, priorities, and activities for helping students learn one basic science concept from a secondary school curriculum. You will consider students' backgrounds, available materials and resources (including WWW resources), and the context of the larger unit. Your PLAN will probably take at least two lesson periods to carry out.


1. Select a CONCEPT that you know well and identify the curriculum UNIT in which it is normally taught. If the concept is a major one and occupies an entire unit, identify one particular aspect or sub-concept within it to focus your planning on.

2. Work out and make a DIAGRAM of the conceptual relationships between the concept you wish to teach and closely related concepts, including: pre-requisite concepts, and applications or special cases of your concept. Most science concepts only make sense in relationship to a small group of other concepts.

3. State clearly the OBJECTIVES of your plan. What will students be able to do, or do better, after learning from your lesson and unit vs. before? Say MORE than just what they will KNOW. Say also what they will be able to DO with this knowledge. For example, how could they SHOW you that they understand the concept?

4. State your assumptions regarding the students' relevant BACKGROUND knowledge and skills, the starting point for their learning and your teaching. For what age/grade and subject are you making your plan?

5. Identify RESOURCES available to you for teaching this concept. Look for advanced textbooks and WWW information for your own use and to be adapted in your lesson(s). Find pictures, demonstration equipment, specimens, audio-visual aids, software, and URLs that may be of use to you or your students during the lesson and the unit. LIST these.

6. Imagine that you will teach the concept over the course of 2-3 class periods. How will you begin? What will be your first QUESTION and/or presentation of information and/or demonstration for the class? How will you get the class to see the problem to which this concept offers a solution?

7. How will you engage students' INTEREST in the topic and concepts you are teaching? Why should anyone want to know about this concept? What important applications does it have? How does it relate to students' daily lives or personal interests? To present and future technologies? to human health and disease? to careers?

8. PLAN a SEQUENCE of key discussion and reasoning QUESTIONS to help students understand the meaning and use of the concept and its relations to other concepts in the unit and in their background. Imagine the most common WRONG, incomplete, or misconceived answers you might get to these questions? How will you reply to such answers?

9. PLAN and write out what you will put on the BOARD, and what you expect students to write in their notes, during the lesson(s).

10. Make a NOTE of how far you expect to get by the end of the first PERIOD. Where is the best place to stop and resume tomorrow?

11. What is most likely to go WRONG during your lesson? what is your BACK-UP plan?

12. INCLUDE some time, in at least one period, when the students will WORK in GROUPS. What will they do? Make sure the task requires co-operation and gets them talking to each other about the concept and topic. How will they report on their results?

13. Write out a good, creative HOMEWORK assignment to go with your plan. THINK about (but you do not need to write out) possible test questions that would assess how well students have reached the objectives for your plan (see item 3 above).

A good response to this assignment should have at least one paragraph for each of these items (and probably at least two paragraphs for item 8).