Chapter 6. Planning Instructional Activity

Lesson Plans

A lesson plan is an organized outline for a single instructional period. It is a necessary guide for the instructor because it tells what to do, in what order to do it, and what procedure to use in teaching the material of a lesson. Lesson plans should be prepared for each training period and be developed to show specific knowledge and/or skills to be taught.

A mental outline of a lesson is not a lesson plan. A lesson plan should be put into writing. Another instructor should be able to take the lesson plan and know what to do in conducting the same period of instruction. Written out, the lesson plan can be analyzed for adequacy and completeness.

Lesson plans make excellent recordkeeping forms that can become a permanent part of a pilot’s training record. They can be formatted for the instructor to carry in the aircraft and include a checklist for indicating what portions of the lesson were completed, date of completion, the flight instructor’s signature, and time flown. The lesson plan can also have a notation section for flight instructor comments.

A training folder for each student helps an instructor keep all pertinent data in one place. The folder should include items such as lesson plans, training requirements, flight or ground instruction received, 14 CFR part 61 requirements met, solo endorsements, and any other training information. These records should be kept in a safe area for at least 3 years. Good recordkeeping also provides each instructor with the number of students he or she has trained, which is helpful information for an instructor who needs to renew his or her certificate. For sample lesson plans, please refer to Appendix A.

Purpose of the Lesson Plan

Lesson plans are designed to assure that each student receives the best possible instruction under the existing conditions. Lesson plans help instructors keep a constant check on their own activity, as well as that of their students. The development of lesson plans by instructors signifies, in effect, that they have taught the lessons to themselves prior to attempting to teach the lessons to students. An adequate lesson plan, when properly used, should:

  • Assure a wise selection of material and the elimination of unimportant details.
  • Make certain that due consideration is given to each part of the lesson.
  • Aid the instructor in presenting the material in a suitable sequence for efficient learning.
  • Provide an outline of the teaching procedure to be used.
  • Serve as a means of relating the lesson to the objectives of the course of training.
  • Give the inexperienced instructor confidence.
  • Promote uniformity of instruction regardless of the instructor or the date on which the lesson is given.

Characteristics of a Well-Planned Lesson

The quality of planning affects the quality of results. Successful professionals understand that the price of excellence is hard work and thorough preparation. The effective instructor realizes that the time and energy spent in planning and preparing each lesson is well worth the effort in the long run.

A complete cycle of planning usually includes several steps. After the objective is determined, the instructor must research the subject as it is defined by the objective. Once the research is complete, the instructor determines the method of instruction and identifies a useful lesson planning format. The decision of how to organize the lesson and the selection of suitable support material come next. The final steps include assembling training aids and writing the lesson plan outline. One technique for writing the lesson plan outline is to prepare the beginning and ending first. Then, complete the outline and revise as required. A lesson plan should be a working document that can and should be revised as changes occur or are needed.

The following are some of the important characteristics that should be reflected in all well-planned lessons.

Unity—each lesson should be a unified segment of instruction. A lesson is concerned with certain limited objectives, which are stated in terms of desired student learning outcomes. All teaching procedures and materials should be selected to attain these objectives.

Content—each lesson should contain new material. However, the new facts, principles, procedures, or skills should be related to the lesson previously presented. A short review of earlier lessons is usually necessary, particularly in flight training.

Scope—each lesson should be reasonable in scope. A person can master only a few principles or skills at a time, the number depending on complexity. Presenting too much material in a lesson results in confusion; presenting too little material results in inefficiency.

Practicality—each lesson should be planned in terms of the conditions under which the training is to be conducted. Lesson plans conducted in an airplane or ground trainer will differ from those conducted in a classroom. Also, the kinds and quantities of instructional aids available have a great influence on lesson planning and instructional procedures.

Flexibility—although the lesson plan provides an outline and sequence for the training to be conducted, a degree of flexibility should be incorporated. For example, the outline of content may include blank spaces for add-on material, if required.

Relation to course of training—each lesson should be planned and taught so that its relation to the course objectives is clear to each student. For example, a lesson on short field takeoffs and landings should be related to both the certification and safety objectives of the course of training.

Instructional steps—every lesson, when adequately developed, falls logically into the four steps of the teaching process: preparation, presentation, application, and review and evaluation.

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