Lesson planning guide & lesson plans
Here we will provide two kinds of aids to teachers wanting to implement “imaginative literacy.” We will include examples of lesson plans appropriate for immediate use, but—following the Chinese adage about providing a fish or a method of fishing—we will also include examples of how one might go about planning a lesson or unit on literacy that will take advantage of the ways we have described for engaging students’ imaginations and emotions in learning.
You will find two kinds of planning guides or frameworks on the linked pages. The first is suitable for younger children, up to around age 6, and then another that is suitable for students up to teen years. In addition, there are two kinds of framework for each age-group. One is a more formal kind that will lead you step by step through the process of designing your own lesson or unit. The second is a more informal sketching-in kind of framework. A lot of teachers have told us they prefer to begin with the informal “circular” framework. After some time, of course, you will be able to leave these frameworks behind and plan more informally. The frameworks are useful initially, though, to allow you to become familiar with what may be a somewhat different way of thinking about both planning and teaching.
The lesson plans we have compiled here include some of those you may have been led to from the “cognitive tools” pages, but also some others. We have organized them in general in terms of the age-ranges they are designed for.
Concluding words about planning in education
A routine part of the pre-service education of nearly all teachers today is learning how to plan lessons and units of study—for teaching literacy no less than for any subject area. Most commonly, the teachers are instructed to begin this planning by stating their objectives for the lesson or unit; what do they aim to achieve? They are also taught methods for organizing the materials in order to effectively present the particular content to their students, directed always by their objectives. This general scheme of planning was devised in detail by Ralph Tyler in the late 1940s (Tyler, 1949), and was derived, according to the Tanners, from the earlier work of John Dewey (Tanner & Tanner, 1980).
It obviously makes sense to have clear objectives for one’s teaching. But these strategies for planning teaching were derived initially from the procedures used in industrial processes for producing washing machines and automobiles (Callaghan, 1962). (Design the final product—one’s objective; organize the assembly line to construct the product bit by bit—one’s methods; arrange supplies of the materials along the line—one’s content; and do testing to ensure that the product functions as planned—one’s evaluation.) These strategies represent one of the earlier and subtler influences of the corporate and industrial world into education. While there is obviously nothing wrong with planning procedures that help teachers organize and teach curriculum material more efficiently, there is a problem if those procedures fail to take into account something vital about education.
One of the differences between producing knowledge in students and producing washing machines and automobiles in factories is that the knowledge becomes a part of the living mind of the student. It becomes tied into the meanings the student then brings to make sense of the world and of their experience. Crucially, it becomes tied into their emotional and imaginative lives. If we want to design and plan teaching in such a way that the emotions and imagination of the student are engaged, then we might be wise to consider an alternative approach that puts these features in their proper, prominent, place. Let’s begin looking at some of the cognitive tools pre-literate students use so that we can find alternative categories for planning teaching, and out of which we can construct planning frameworks to help with the job.