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By Ambrianna Freeze

Captivating fourth grade minds with structured lesson plans

Planning lessons for the fourth grade can be difficult without a set of guidelines. Although university education programs usually include a class or two on lesson planning, actually being in the classroom with students and trying to teach is a much different story. Here are three things to keep in mind when planning a lesson for fourth graders.

Choose a topic and stick with it.

Children focus better when they only have one thing to focus on, so teachers should design lessons around one particular subject and try not to take tangents from the main focus. The topic should be specific enough to be informative – for example, a certain species of mammal, instead of a group, that lives in South America – but broad enough to allow discussion. Students, especially fourth graders, love to talk about everything – South American animals included! By making the topic specific and staying with that topic, the students will learn the new information needed without being overwhelmed by a broad subject.

Structure lessons in the same way every time.

Giving students a format for their education will make a huge difference in the stress levels of the children, which in turn will make the teacher's job easier. Each lesson should have four main parts. For example, a lesson on South American turtles should include a fun introduction, a reading passage or video clip, a hands-on activity, and a conclusion with a take-away point. This format is used for every age group, from kindergarteners all the way through the business world. Take a look at any "team building" seminar and the pattern will emerge over and over again. It is used so often because it works. The students know what to expect and are able to absorb the information in a safe and positive way.

Know where, and when, to stop.

It is easy to get into a subject and find the lesson off track a few minutes later. Sometimes things are just too fun not to mention! However, deviating from the lesson plan too much can wreak havoc on the teacher's brain as well as the students'. Choose times during the lesson to stop and take a quick break, or transition into the next activity. Not only does this keep the lesson from running over, it also prevents the children from being overwhelmed with frivolous information. It might be interesting to dive into a tangent on why South American turtles eat vegetation that only grows in a certain spot under a certain tree, but that will only cloud the minds of the teacher and the students. Find a good place to stop, and stop.

No matter how good of a school a teacher has attended, lesson planning for the first time can be taxing. Luckily, there are ways to make it work! Keeping these three tips in mind while preparing for a lesson will help any new teacher deliver well-developed and well-timed lessons to their students, each and every time. Even though the task may at first seem daunting, with practice it will become second nature, and, hopefully, enjoyable!

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