The process of teaching and learning in all structured contexts requires strict adherence to a curriculum. This is often set up by various national bodies and educational stakeholders with respect to every subject. Teachers consequently prepare lesson plans drawing on the curriculum standards and use such as the basis of their instruction and content design (Wyse, Hayward & Pandya, 2015). It is important to carry out periodic curricular assessments to ascertain appropriateness, comprehensiveness and whether student needs are met. The current case study features a new 8th grade class for the academic year, encompassing 30 students arranged in rows of six facing the teacher, for the lesson “Causes of the American Revolution”. The lesson is part of a larger course, “Revolution and the New Nation (1754–1820s)” as designated by the National Center for History in the Schools. The objectives of the lesson were to enable students to prepare an essay that explains three events related to the revolution, outline reasons given for the stances taken by the four economic groupings of the revolutionary era and highlight the timeline of events that led to the revolutionary war. In this paper, the primary learning strategies employed in the lesson plan shall be outlined and their link to the objectives established. Additionally, there shall be an outline of possible modifications to be introduced in the content and instructional strategy in the lesson plan.
There are several learning strategies that have been employed in the lesson plan. One of such is a prewriting and pre-reading strategy. Such strategies are often important in helping learners to brainstorm and develop ideas about the content that they are to engage in later in the classroom (Wyse, Hayward & Pandya, 2015). From the case, this was done by giving out homework which was to be completed prior to the beginning of the class. The homework was on a number of events that had been highlighted by the teacher and the students were to link the same to American history. This pre-reading and pre-writing activity would give the students the foundation of the lesson content, help them to build a mind map on the issues involved and consequently have an easier time attaining the objectives that have been set in the lesson plan (Parkay, Anctil & Hass, 2014). Another strategy used is on the classroom design. This entails the arrangement of the sitting positions in a way that promotes inter-student engagement and collaborative learning. The students align in rows that make it easier for group discussions as well as paying attention given that they face the teacher who is in the front (Wyse, Hayward & Pandya, 2015). The learning materials on the walls are also meant to engage them with the learning content as well as to provoke their minds into brainstorming. More importantly, the lesson plan includes direct instructions and group discussions as a primary learning strategy. This helps in introduction of new knowledge on the subject matter and building comprehension through discussions and brainstorming.
The above strategies were in sync with the lesson’s learning objectives. First, pre-reading and pre-writing activities (homework) were meant to build understanding on the events related to the American Revolution. By covering eight events of significance to American history, the students were prepared to explain at least three events that had direct resonance with the revolution as required by the learning objectives. Students would be able to remember at least three events having covered eight on their own in addition to classroom discussions and the teacher’s instruction. On the other hand, the classroom design was meant to stimulate reasoning on the events, different groups involved in the revolution war and the stances of the different groups involved. It was a stimulant to the comprehension of the entire course content and thereby helped in the pursuit of all the learning objectives. The teacher’s instructions (lectures) and group discussions on their part were meant to bridge knowledge gaps on the events, the various economic groups and the timeline of events that led to the revolution. They were particularly useful in ingraining deep knowledge that would allow the students to reconstruct the events as they unfolded in the run up the war (Parkay, Anctil & Hass, 2014). As such, all the learning strategies were aligned to the objectives of the course.
The current content strategy entails description and comparison of events and activities that are associated with the American Revolution. However, there is barely any emphasis on reflection. This is an active learning model which can breathe more life into the present content strategy. Reflection shall ensure that students not only grasp key concepts but process them and interpret them in their own words and minds (Wyse, Hayward & Pandya, 2015). They can outline their feelings, best experiences and what they have struggled with in the course in addition to the mainstream content. Therefore, there is need to add reflective questions and essays in the lesson plan that will allow the students to reflectively look at the content from individual perspectives. The gist of this is also to understand how the learning process can be improved and in essence appreciate that the learning process is meant for students who have their own feelings, learning preferences and pre-conditions for classroom engagement. Reflective content also builds deeper understanding and provokes personal research into the unit.
One curriculum content item that would be altered in the lesson plan was on the economic and political origins of the American Revolution. First, this content overlapped with the focus on events that lead to the revolution and the various contesting groups and their respective views. By discussing the events and the antagonistic groups, it was possible that the economics and politics of the conflict would come out clearly. While focusing on this rather repetitive content line, some essential information is left outside more so on the outcomes of the revolution and the people involved in significant events. Such people for instance George Washington played an important role in the subsequent formation of the new republic and the drafting of the US Constitution (Bailyn, 2012). The current content therefore omits essential details on the outcomes of the revolution and more importantly, the history of the founding fathers. Therefore, rather than focusing on economic and political origins of the revolution, this idea could be merged with other content areas and allow for a discussion of the significance, outcomes and human drivers of the revolutionary war. The lesson in its current content design does not explain the successes realized from the revolution at all and such a content modification would bring meaningful change.
The above modification shall be made by expanding on the political and economic causes of the American Revolution. Therefore, the objective shall read “political and economic causes of the revolution and their respective outcomes”. This implies that the causes shall be discussed in close proximity to the outcomes. That way, the students are likely to remember both sides of the discussion easily as they shall study while trying to relate the two sides. Therefore, the modification shall be made in the lesson objectives, by adding an “outcomes” discussion on the causes of the revolution. In the end, the students can compare the causes and the outcomes of the revolution and make their own judgment if it was successful or not.
The modeling instructional strategy would be modified in the lesson plan to include reflective questions. Prior to the beginning of the lecture, the teacher would present a handout with a number of questions that everyone would think about as the lesson progressed. This shall help in creating alertness and ensuring that the lesson was closely followed (Parkay, Anctil & Hass, 2014). Additionally, the teacher would design the questions in a way that linked them to the main themes of the lecture and as such would be providing answers to the questions in the students’ mind as the class progressed. Prior to reaching the end, the teacher would ask for the answers to the questions to see how well the lecture was comprehended.
The modification of instructions shall be made in the presentation of new information. The maps of economic opportunities shall be presented before the class to allow discussion and familiarity with them to ensure that there is minimal reference during the class. Instead, the students shall reflect on the questions that shall be provided by the teacher as the lesson progresses. A better way of doing it would be to accompany the maps with the questions to ensure that there was adequate reflective material in the midst of the lecture. This hall ensure that they grasp the lecture content, stay alert and more importantly create mental cues them to remember the new content.
The stated modifications shall be done in the instructional guidelines, particularly in the presentation of new information. Here, the instructor shall be required to present reflective questions in addition to the map of economic opportunities to help in the reflection process in the middle of the learning. The new instruction shall therefore include both maps and questions. If possible, both should be issued prior to the lecture to allow for student engagement and discussion on the materials.
The evaluation of curriculum is an important activity that guarantees the attainment of student needs through modifications that spark improvement. In the given case, there were various primary learning strategies involved in the lesson plan. These included pre-writing and pre-reading strategies, classroom design and the use of instruction and group discussions. These strategies were aligned to the objectives set out in the lesson plan, whose grounding was on the history curriculum set up by the National Center for History in the Schools. The content required modification to integrate the outcomes of the American Revolution rather than only focusing on the causes. On the other hand, the instructional strategy needed to incorporate some reflection. Curriculum evaluation and subsequent reviews should always consider the needs of the student population in question, rather than a one-shoe-size-fits-all approach.
Bailyn, B. (2012). The ideological origins of the American Revolution. Harvard University Press.
Parkay, F. W., Anctil, E. J., & Hass, G. (2014). Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs. Prentice Hall.
Wyse, D., Hayward, L., & Pandya, J. (Eds.). (2015). The SAGE handbook of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Sage.
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