Writing effective lesson plans requires a solid understanding of the curriculum, students’ knowledge base and the variety of learning styles present in the class. Writing lesson plans for multiple learning styles also creates the opportunity for students to build on secondary learning styles to improve learning and retention
Learning styles are the ways that students learn best. They are categorized simply as visual-auditory-tactile-kinesthetic or, in more detail, as follows (courtesy of learning-styles-online.com):
• Visual/Spatial – pictures and images
• Aural – sounds and music
• Verbal – written and spoken words
• Physical/Kinesthetic – hands on and body movement
• Logical – reasoning and instructions
• Social – group interactions
• Solitary – independent study
Howard Gardener adds yet another learning style, the naturalist, who learns best through aspects of nature. Traditional classrooms used methods that worked best for verbal and logical learning styles, with students seated quietly in distinct rows, working with pencil and paper. Failing to take advantage of the other ways of learning interferes with the success of some students and reduces the experience for all students.
Primary and secondary learning styles
Nearly all students have a preferred, or primary, learning style, but most people can benefit from a variety of teaching methods that address their secondary and even tertiary learning styles. Learning style assessments and interest inventories are a good idea at any grade level. Helping students understand how they learn best also provides them with the understanding that everyone is different. When students know what works best for themselves, they can make better use of their time while improving interpersonal social skills and tolerance toward different ways of doing things. Small group work is an excellent way to provide students with opportunities to shine and to learn from the methods best suited to others.
After identifying the objective of each lesson, as determined by curriculum, teachers can add a section to their lesson plan that addresses each of the learning styles. Regardless of the subject, there are ways to incorporate each of the learning styles into lesson plans. For example, a 1st grade lesson on Thanksgiving can be expanded to include all learning styles with the following activities:
• Visual/Spatial – Have students draw pictures of what they are learning
• Aural – Teach or create a song about Thanksgiving
• Verbal – Have students write a letter, imagining themselves to be Pilgrims
• Physical/Kinesthetic – Create and play games enjoyed by Pilgrim and Wampanoag kids
• Logical – Have students create recipes of their favorite Thanksgiving dish
• Social – Use small group activities to explore life as Wampanoag Indians and Pilgrims
• Solitary – Provide word search puzzles, spelling practice and reading opportunities
Writing lesson plans for multiple learning styles results in enriched classroom experiences that are more productive than simply conveying factual information via lectures and writing assignments. One easy way to remember each of the various learning styles, when writing lesson plans, is to picture two people holding hands: each person has eyes (visual), ears (auditory), a mouth (verbal), a body (kinesthetic), one hand held (social) and one hand empty (solitary). This Buddy System works as a mnemonic to ensure that all learners needs are addressed with each lesson and that your lesson plans will provide students with a wide range of experiences with a subject, increasing their skills, knowledge and self awareness.