Assistant teacher course/Preparing and holding a lesson

  What shared activity is there in learning from books about the discovery of America?  

Democracy and Education, John Dewey

Preparing and holding a lesson Edit

Preparing a lesson Edit

Preparing a lesson
Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: prepare handouts, books
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?

While "preparing a lesson" is not an answer to the question in the above quotation it is an opportunity for creative group work, which can help to promote a spirit of community and a common purpose for the assistant teachers. Creative group work can have a positive impact on the learning motivation of the assistant teachers and on the resulting learning experience for their pupils, thus addressing a problem implied by the question.

"Children learn science in a variety of ways, just as they learn anything else. They learn it more readily when they are interested in it, when they can see that it makes some difference to them, when it is graphic, involves some manipulation on their part, it not too hard but hard enough to make them think, and when it gives them the satisfaction of having found out something they wanted to know. This is not peculiar to science. It is true for arithmetic, languages, the arts or any other subject." [1]

A recommended handout is the first chapter of 700 Science Experiments for Everyone.[1] The experiments from the Wikieducator collection "Biology in elementary schools" [2] or lesson plans from TeachUNICEF[3] can be used as examples for lesson plans. The pupils can go further and decide on roles for individual assistant teachers during the lesson. To stimulate the imagination of the participants for the following exercise the experiments shouldn't be too difficult, so the participants can focus on being creative and the experiments should allow to easily create a lesson with the potential to be entertaining for the audience. Entertaining topics (experiments) make this part of the task artificially easy here.

The participants may need basic advice on what assumptions can be made and how a lesson plan should be written during the following group work. At least one instructor should walk from group to group and offer advice. The instructor should only give advice on request, the participants are meant to be creative.

Develop your own way of preparing a short lesson in a group of 4-6 pupils.
Select an experiment or several experiments from the books provided and prepare your own lesson.

  • Decide on a process in your group:
    • What needs to be prepared?
    • Who should prepare it and how?
  • Make notes about what you do and why you do it:
    • What is important in the preparation of the lesson?
  • What did you learn while you were preparing the lesson?

The participants haven't trained properly how to prepare a lesson but they have developed some ideas of their own about what can be done to prepare a lesson. The more important ideas should be presented by a representative of each group. The participants should be given a few minutes to select representatives and to nominate their best ideas.

The lesson plans should be gathered although the main benefit here was the experience and the presentation of "best practices". The lesson plans may be useful for the book project later on.


Holding a lesson Edit

Holding a lesson
Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: read the
teachers' handbook
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?

For this unit an instructor should have read the teachers' handbook. The first step is to allow the pupils to phrase their own ideas again. The ideas should be more extensive and sophisticated as in the "Reinventing the wheel" phase.

What can assistant teachers do during a lesson?

  • In what ways can a lesson with assistant teachers be organized?
  • What are the needs of the pupils?
  • Which services does a teacher require?
  • What should assistant teachers and teachers avoid during the lesson?

In the following discussion the instructor can introduce some ideas from the teachers' handbook.

Assistant teachers should try to develop their own ideas for classroom management. To raise the hand is an ambiguous signal, especially when assistant teachers are involved. What signals should be distinguished and how? The participants should produce ideas, the instructor can help along when necessary.

For example:
  • An urgent request: Get up and raise hand
  • Reply to question: Raise hand with raised finger
  • Question of understanding: Raise hand with all fingers (the "highest priority")
  • Comment on the same topic: Raise hand with two fingers
  • Different topic: Raise hand with one finger and thumb out
  • Request help from assistant: Face assistant, raise hand at face level

What other signals may be important? The participants can also use colored cards as an alternative. When the group has decided on a system the system should be tried out in a classroom situation. The topic of the classroom situation can be the use of different signals when raising the hand, which allows to refine the system while testing it.

The participants are likely to develop a system too complex for application that needs to be revised and simplified, which is convenient because the assistant teachers will only know a revised and simplified system from their own experience, which means they can be creative in this task.

What are the psychological effects of the modified system?

  • Pupils may have more ways to express themselves without being allowed to speak.
    • Can this have an influence on metacognition?
    • Can it promote involvement and reduce frustration?
  • Teachers have more information to consider before allowing a pupil to speak.
    • Can this promote intelligent choice and make choices more meaningful?
    • Can it confuse the teacher and delay reactions?

Literature Edit


ToDo: Find some more books for the purpose.

  1. 1.0 1.1 UNESCO (1964-02-06) [1956]. 700 Science Experiments for Everyone (Revised and enlarged ed.). Doubleday Books. ISBN 0385052758. 
  2. Wikieducator: Biology in elementary schools
  3. Teach UNICEF
Big Book of Fun Science Experiments (Wikijunior, Wikibooks)
"Global Microscience Project (GPME)". UNESCO. 2007-10-16.
Gardner, Martin (1981-09-01). Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects (Dover ed.). Dover Publications. ISBN 0486242013. 
Stewart, Ian (2004-07-08). Math Hysteria: Fun and Games with Mathematics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198613369. 
Gardner, Martin (2005). Martin Gardner's Mathematical Games (CD-ROM). Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0883855453. 

External links Edit

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