Teaching involves individual lessons which are part of a larger unit. However, each lesson is a self-contained concept within a broader topic and consists of individual teaching-learning-thinking-practice exercises. A single lesson may consist primarily of instruction (a lecture or notes) or hands-on work (experiments/labs), or alternate between these.
Although lessons vary depending on the material being taught, resources available, and the teacher, generally a lesson consists of the following sequence of steps:
- Preparation: the teacher starts the lesson with the general concept of the lesson, which is associated with something already known by the class.
- Presentation: introducing the new material.
- Association: the new material is compared with old material and logical connections are made.
- Generalization: other examples of the new idea are presented.
- Application: the news ideas are applied to further material or investigation (eg. practice problems, a critical thinking exercise, or a lab).
This sequence of steps gives the teacher a clear role and provides the student with the opportunity for active, participatory learning.
The teacher selects and organizes the material that is to be taught in order to guide the students' learning. The students' curiosity, experience, and involvement are also essential to the learning. One problem teachers face is how to maintain the students' interest and curiosity, since those are the main motivators for learning. Sustained interest leads students to set realistic standards for their achievement.
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