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Lesson Plans Agriculture

( Originally Published 1915 )

The Lesson Plan in Agriculture.—There are a number of reasons why well-made lesson plans are especially valuable to the teacher of agriculture. We are to make agriculture most interesting when we teach much of what is too new to have found a place in books. Of course teachers must be sure that what they teach is worth while, is worth doing, and is within the under-standing of the pupils being taught. There is more danger, however, that teachers of agriculture will teach what is under rather than over the understanding of the pupils. Pupils who live in the country and associate daily with farmers know more about agriculture than we give them credit for. Lesson plans are very useful to teachers who teach from things instead of from books. The numerous excellent books containing a discussion of what a lesson plan is and how it is used, make a detailed consideration of those matters unnecessary in this place. Those interested should consult the excellent books by McMurry, DeGarmo, Rein, and Bagley's " The Educative Process," Chapters XIX and XX. I refer to this especially because Bagley makes it plain that a lesson plan is useful whether the lesson be inductive or deductive.

A well-worked-out lesson plan gives a teacher her aim, and if she be reasonably careful it keeps her from wandering too far afield. This is the great danger when teaching from things instead of from a book. The working out of the lesson plan forces the teacher to think the subject through, so that she under-stands what she is to teach ; the making of the lesson plan gives her a body of information, crowding her, as it were, for expreSsion, and this in turn gives her warmth and enthusiasm for the lesson.

Then, too, a lesson plan while primarily for the teacher's own use readily enables her to show her supervisor what she is doing, has done, and intends to do. Needless to say, the lesson plan enables the teacher to use the Socratic method, and this method also enables her to draw from the pupils much of the subject-matter of the lesson. This is accomplished by questions well arranged in a logical sequence, and these questions with their answers make the lesson much more interesting to and easily remembered by the pupils.

What is in a Lesson Plan?—It is hard to tell just what goes into a lesson plan. The true teacher will use the lesson plan as a guide, varying, adding to or leaving off as occasion demands. There are in a full lesson plan five or six steps. There should be a clear, short, concise statement of the teacher's aim. This is for the teacher and hence not always counted as a formal step. This leaves five formal steps to be taken for and used with the pupils : First, Preparation of the pupil's mind to make him desire the lesson to be taught. At the close of this first formal step, there should be a restatement of the aim from the pupil's standpoint. This subordinate statement of the aim generally begins with some such expression as, " Let us learn. Would you like to learn ? How may we learn ?" etc. Following the preparation is the second formal step, which is called Presentation. While he is teaching the teacher will, so far as he can, draw the subject-matter from the pupils by well-worded questions. He frequently has to tell much and for that reason it is well in his lesson plan to have a rather full and dogmatic statement of what he wishes the pupils to know. Presentation is the main part and hence should receive emphasis. A teacher should not think that he has a well-prepared lesson plan if he has less than one-half or more of the whole plan given to presentation. The third step is Comparison, which may be either or both to show what the thing is like or is not like, i.e., analogy and contrast. The fourth step is Generalization, which may be the statement of a rule or definition but in agriculture is more frequently a short, striking summary of what was presented. The last step is more important in agriculture, which is a vocational subject, than it is in the so-called " cultural " subjects.

When we aim to enable pupils to understand, application is not of such relative importance. But in agriculture, where we aim to get the pupils to do and do better than is being done, the fifth step called Application is a very important step. It is here that we may send them from the class to search book and bulletin for additional information on the subject. It is by application that we may send them to observe the practices of the leading agriculturists ; it is by application that we may get the pupil to apply the lesson as his practicum or home project. Man's superiority over the other animals does not consist so much in his superior brain as in his wonderful development of the hand. And here again we meet the necessity for doing in order to learn. " The worst gift," says Pestalozzi, " that an evil genius has made to our age is knowledge without training." " We are inclined," says DeGarmo, " to think our work done when the student apperceives, but this is only the stage of clearness; if we would have him reach the stage of vividness, we must see that he acquires the necessary technique." The measure of the success of the vocational teacher is found in what he gets the pupils to do.

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