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Lesson Design

[ Assess the Situation ] [ Develop Objectives ] [ Create Activities

Teachers plan in a variety of ways.  In practice, teachers don't follow the nicely prescribed instructional design model often seen in textbooks.  In the "real-world", it is often a mentally process.  Plans need to be flexible and are modified based on student needs, contexts, and any number of other factors.  This makes planning collaboratively with teachers as much an art as a science.

Instructional units that are better suited for integration include:  

bulletThose that require student productions,
bulletAre heavily resource rather than textbook based, or
bulletAllow individualized student work.

Library media specialist should work with the teacher, starting with the subject objectives of their units and determining what information literacy skills are needed by students. At the same time, the LMS must keep track of information and technology literacy skills covered by each class to make sure all the required competencies are mastered by all students.  The Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Information and Technology Literacy can provide the beginning of a district's curriculum guidelines for the library media program. 

Assess the Situation

In consultation with the classroom teacher, determine:

bulletClassroom curriculum (content and thinking objectives)
bulletInformation seeking skills needed
bulletSkills students already have
bulletClassroom environment

Determine the answer to these questions

  1. What information seeking skills do students need?
  2. How to identify the prior knowledge level of students in regards to information seeking?

Develop Objectives

Properly used, objectives focus lessons on the LEARNER rather than on the TEACHER. Uses of objectives include:

bulletDetermine if skills have been learned
bulletPass on information to teacher about skills
bulletDetermine if evaluation and teaching methods match what is to be learned

Identify the following three components for each objective:

bulletSkill or behavior (i.e., what learner will be able to do)
bulletConditions that will prevail while a learner carries out the task (e.g., tools used)
bulletCriteria to evaluate performance (e.g., time, accuracy)

Create Activities

Think about conditions in the classroom and library outside of the objectives:

bulletStudent characteristics (learning styles, prior knowledge, developmental levels)
bulletLibrary environment (number of computers, seating, projection)
bulletGrouping (one large group, individuals, small groups; heterogeneous or homogeneous)
bulletTime to work with students
bulletTiming (immediately before need, isolated class)

Then think about how students learn. The information processing model is one way to look at this process. In this model, the body's receptors (eyes, ears, touch) receive input in the form of patterns of neural impulses. These are output to the sensory register where they are selectively perceived (i.e., not everything received is actually perceived by the senses). Without this selective perception we would be overwhelmed by all going on around us. These impulses are then temporarily stored in short-term memory. To move into long-term memory, the impulses go through semantic encoding and are incorporated into this long-term storage through assimilation or accommodation into existing memory structures.

When information must be retrieved, the process is simply reversed: long-term memory is searched, information is temporarily stored in short-term memory and then sent to response generator. The response is performed in the form of a muscle movement, spoken word, or other reaction.

Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction

Robert Gagne has examined this internal processing in learning and translated it to external instructional events that are manipulate to support the internal processes. His work began in a very behavioristic mode, but many of his ideas can be applied to developing learning situations where students can gain skills as they create their own view of the world.

Steps in instruction


Stages of information processing

bulletGaining attention 
bulletappeal to interests, use novelty, surprise, or discontinuity
Reception of data through senses
bulletInform of objective 
bulletnot necessary if objectives are obvious
bulletpresent in terms understandable to student
Activate executive control
bulletStimulate recall of prior learning 
Retrieve prior learning (from long term memory schema) to working memory
bulletPresent information 
bulletemphasize important concepts and facts
bulletprovide variety of examples and non-examples
bulletmay use inductive or deductive reasoning
Emphasize features for selective perception
bulletProvide learner guidance 
bullethelp learner see rule or principle - not simply state it but lead to own understanding
bulletask questions of learner, provide prompts
bulletadapt to learner differences (format of prompts, difficulty of questions, amount of hinting)
bulletmodel performance
Semantic encoding; cues for retrieval
bulletElicit performance to show understanding 
Activate response organization
bulletProvide feedback about performance correctness  
Establish reinforcement
bulletAssess performance 
bulletprovide meaningful context for learning, embed in network of relationships and provide numerous possibilities as cues for retrieval
bulletreview and practice over time
bulletprovide a variety of new tasks (variety and novelty important)
Activate retrieval; make reinforcement possible

Applying this framework of analysis, many possible teaching / learning activities for acquiring information seeking skills are possible, such as:

bulletHands-on with computer
bulletModel or demonstrate computer use
bulletCreating checklist
bulletPoint-of-use guides
bulletPeer feedback
bulletCarry out activity in small groups
bulletCreating a debate
bulletRole playing
bulletCase study
bulletComputer assisted instruction
bulletWorksheets (use on very limited basis)

In collaboration with the classroom teacher; based on the objectives, grouping, ability level of students, and the other variables discussed above.  Keep in mind that the goal is to create an active learner that is doing the work, not the librarian.

Of course, lesson and activities cannot be properly designed without also establishing appropriate assessments.  Please refer to that section of this Web for more on that topic (or it is on the navigation bar to the right), along with the roles that the library media specialist can play in implementing assessments or evaluations.

[ Assess the Situation ] [ Develop Objectives ] [ Create Activities

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Information Power
Information Literacy
Research Process
Evaluating Information
Lesson Design
Staff Development


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