How to Plan Lessons to Engage 21st Century Students

How to plan lessons to engage 21st century students

We are living in the age where constant entertainment and stimulation is necessary to keep student going on. Educators today carry huge responsibility to keep their students engaged and interested in the classroom. It is also because, today, distraction can be easily caused.

But there are a lot of ways teachers can combat distraction and engage their students in healthy learning. One of the most productive ways to combat distraction is to create engaging lesson plans; clutching student’s interest meanwhile providing valuable content is a win-win situation.

We took this question to social media platform and asked a number of educators on how they plan their lessons to keep their student interested as well as provide valuable content.

“I would say, we need a variation of activities to meet the students' different needs (visuals, audios, writing, and reading on paper or on tablet). I use songs and podcasts from YouTube, Kagan activities (Group activities, moving around the class, partner work on paper), I make them create Videos, Audios, Podcasts, do practical exercises and research on Internet, games(real ones and online), Projects are also very popular among my students.” Says one of the educator.

21st century teaching involves integrating technology. Today a number of educators are including technology in their lesson plans to help student to develop 21st century skills like critical thinking, collaboration, team work, etc.

Other says, “I use Camtasia to create my short videos that allow students to work at their own pace as I walk around assisting those who might have trouble. I also walk around and provide more depth as they work. The lessons usually involve tapping into their creativity. I use Google Apps for many of my classroom projects: Website building; creating surveys; collaborating with stories with Google Docs, etc.”

Not every educator believes that integrating technology in their 21st century lesson plans is the only way to make it engaging, they believe in keeping the right balance with the technology in their lesson plans.

Randy Matusky, a secondary school educator explains, “I like to construct my lesson plans based on a layer template. What I mean is that the first layer of the lesson is for when I'm completely cut-off of any technology in the classroom. Hopefully this doesn't occur often, but it still can and we need to be prepared or else it'll just be a waste of a lesson.

Each additional layer of the lesson is for when I have access to another form of technology, be it a projector, wifi access or a laptop/iPad cart for the students. I know this sounds complicated, and it takes time, which is a resource most teachers don't really have, but over time it becomes second nature and you don't really need to think about it. I like thinking about it as if a carpenter was asked to build a piece of furniture.

In scenario one the carpenter only has access to basic tools, such as a hammer and a handsaw. In scenario two the carpenter has access to his entire work tools. The carpenter's design plan will drastically change depending on which of these two scenarios he/she's facing. It's the same for educators and technology.”

Being an educator and preparing lesson plan for a number of students with different mental level, background and intellectually ability is really a challenging task. Here are some tips that may assist you in this.

Identify Learning Objective

The first thing you need to do is to determine the leaning objective for your class.  To help to identify the learning objectives answer these questions:

  • Topic of the lesson?
  • What do you want your students to learn?
  • What do you want your student to do at the end of class?
  • What do to help them to learn after the particular lesson?

More importantly

  • What are the crucial ideas, skills and concepts you want to your students to learn and apply?
  • If out of time then which topics to be left and which not?


Now when you have identified the learning objectives, it’s time to develop the introduction.  Consider these questions while writing introduction of the learning objectives.

  • What/How will I introduce the topic
  • How do I check if the students have any knowledge about the topic or not?
  • What are the common ideas about the topic that students might know?

Plan to explain the body of the topic in detail

These important questions will help you to write effective body of you lesson plan.

  • What will you do to illustrate and explain the topic in a distinct way?
  • How will you engage the student in the topic?
  • What are the relevant real-life instances and situation, you will use to explain topic better?

Check the Student’s Understanding

It is important to check the understanding of the student about a topic right after explain the topic.  Form the questions that you will ask to your students to check their understanding.

Summarize and Preview

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Revise the main points by yourself
  • Ask any one or two student to summarize it
  • Or ask students to write what they think the important point of the lesson was.

Always conclude the lesson by summarizing the current lesson as well as previewing the next chapter.

You can do all these things by using various apps available over the Internet. These apps have amazing features that will let you to organize everything.  Some of the apps are listed here:

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About the Author
Author: Prasanna Bharti
Prasanna is a blogger by profession, and loves to write about education technology. Her write-ups intend to provide a deep insight about enormous resources and ideas available to make learning better and effective with the use of technology.

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