BALTIMORE WISDOM PROJECT
At the Baltimore Wisdom Project, we value structured learning and engagement. Creating well-structured learning places, spaces, content, and engagement is the foundation on which all of our educational and healing work for peace and justice rests. We carefully create a sense of home in the regular environments where learning takes place (such as community centers or recreation centers) and we advocate fiercely for the maintenance of these spaces and places. We carefully plan individual educational and health activities to ensure maximum impact within an overall curriculum. This requires detailed attention to lesson planning and scrupulous crafting of goals and outcomes for each part of learning experiences. Our approach to structured learning applies to both Pre-K-through-grade-12 and adult learners. The exactitude of our planning helps us “think-on-our-feet,” as the saying goes, and be flexible on the days of in-person and/or virtual teaching and healing within pre-determined structures.
We create learning spaces as home spaces by consciously reimagining elements of the space as emotional supports. Every couch, seat, chair, table, blanket, and plush stuffed animal is an emotional support apparatus on which youth and families may feel a sense of comfort, safety, calm, and positive emotions. Creating home spaces for learning also requires managing lighting, odor, and bathroom facilities so that the way in which learners encounter each element of the place fosters well-being and healing. A STEM or athletic learning environment can have elements—lab equipment or athletic equipment—that foster a supportive emotional environment in how the elements are organized. This place-based (or place-centered) approach to healing is essential to our programming.
An individual lesson plan for a specific time-period is just one part of the big picture of curricular outcomes. We also develop the big picture of curricular goals and outcomes for ongoing, extended critical discovery.
A lesson plan is about what learners will gain and what they will do.
A lesson plan is not about how the teacher will teach, which is called “instructional delivery.”
After you have planned the lesson, keep these reflections in mind when working on instructional delivery.
Timing is important. We do not do too much or too little. We try only to do what is required in order for the learning experience to be substantial within a specific time frame. Take in mind that behavioral management (also called classroom management) may take time when working with youth and we must give ourselves time to call the proceedings to order as well as work through the learning content.
Created learning spaces where participants are focused and attentive is always challenging, especially with youth under 25. We meet the challenge with verbal prompts that call learners to attention in holistic, affirming ways. During the learning session, when working with youth, we avoid negative yelling and toxic engagement. We do project our voices in a commanding, supportive manner and we foster an environment of accountability, responsibility, love, safety, and respect. We call the affirmative, non-toxic projection of our voices, going “big time.” Our organization values using the following antiphonal “big time” vocal structures in American English language to call learners to order if they become boisterous. On first mention, prompt the youth by saying, “If I say _____, then you say, _____.” Then vocalize these antiphonal chants:
Teacher: Bring it!
Teacher: Let it!
Teacher: Take your!
Teacher: Love your!
Learners: Got this!
Movement or Musical Calls to Order
Teacher: Clap once if you hear me. Clap twice if you're listening. (Etc.)
A learning objective is what the teacher wants the learner to have achieved by the end of the lesson. Objectives are different from learning activities. We use a one-page template to plan every lesson. Because holistic learning is equally as important as academic inquiry, we have objectives for each area. We carefully write the lesson's objectives in the required areas on the lesson planning template. Again, during the class session, we clearly state the learning objective at the beginning of the lesson. Then we return to the learning objective at the end of the lesson and ask how the learners achieved the objective. Or we clearly state that we will be continuing to achieve the objective in another lesson.
We create objectives that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative and Timely). Effective objectives are statements that have the following components:
Example of a learning objective:
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