One of the most common challenges chess coaches face in teaching their students important concepts and strategies is framing the lesson plan. Do these sound familiar to you:
- My students are unable to understand the concepts taught
- My students are unable to retain the concepts taught
- Different students learn at different paces, making the process of testing their understanding difficult
- I don’t know how to structure my classes
If yes, don’t worry because you’re not alone. And it’s not just that the challenges make our life difficult, it also dilutes the quality of work we do. If you’re looking to bring some change to the way you handle your chess classes, this article might help you.
What is a lesson plan?
A lesson plan is a guide that a teacher (coach) uses to teach their students effectively. It mainly addresses the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of teaching a concept:
- WHAT – what do the students have to learn?
- HOW – how it can be taught to the students and how their learning can be measured?
Why is a lesson plan important?
A lesson plan helps you (coaches/teachers) be more prepared for your class and be more effective during the class. It gives you a clear idea of how you want your class to go and what to expect from your students. This way, you make use of your class time effectively.
Remember the chess quote “A bad plan is better than none at all” by Frank Marshall? Your lesson plan need not be like a thesis. Just a simple one would do!
Elements of a lesson plan
The elements of a good lesson plan are:
- Resources Required
- Assessment Method
An objective lists what your students will be able to do after you’ve completed a lesson. The whole lesson will be focused on these objectives.
This is where most coaches get it wrong. An objective should be focused on your students, not you. Below is an example:
❌ Wrong objective: I will teach the tactical motif “Pin” to my students
✔️ Correct objective: My students will learn “Pin” and be able to apply it to solve puzzles
See the difference? It’s about your students and what they will do after learning something from your lesson, and not what you will teach.
A hook (attention-grabber) is simply something that you use to grab the attention of your students before you start teaching. Although this is best to have when teaching kids, it can also be used for students who are a bit older.
A hook can be a very small story, or a picture, or an action you ask your students to perform. You can also tell them stories of famous incidents/games where a player has lost or won because of this concept.
Take a look at these two examples of starting a class:
- ‘Good morning kids. Today we’ll be learning a tactical motif called the pin…’
- ‘Kids, take a look at the notice board. You see some paper pins? Do you see how they keep the papers from moving? Similarly in chess, we can pin a piece so that it doesn’t move…’
Which one do you think your kids would find more interesting? The second, right? Because it grabs their attention – and that’s exactly what is called a hook.
This is the core section that explains how exactly you will teach the lesson. It is a step-by-step procedure that you and your students will follow to complete the objectives. You can be detailed here and mention the various activities you and your students will perform during the class.
You can divide your plan into 3 steps:
- I do: This is where you, as a coach, will introduce and teach a new concept to your students. It should read like “I will teach my students pin by showing some illustrative examples of a bishop pinning a rook”.
- We do: These are the activities that you and your students will perform together after you’ve introduced the concept. In this section, you will be interacting with them and make them understand the objectives. This space is used to clarify the misconceptions your students have. For example, you and your students will analyze games/puzzles together that involve “Pin”.
- You do: This is the final step where you will test the understanding of your students. This part is used to get a better understanding of how much of the objective your students have actually understood.
You can use worksheets, homework problems, and assignments in the “You do” part, where only your students will be doing them, unlike the “We do” part where you both will be interacting with each other.
4) Resources Required
This is the list of materials/resources you will need to teach the lesson. Without this list, you may accidentally forget to load an important database of games to your laptop or forget to bring a puzzle book to the class.
Resources include books, worksheets, game files (databases), puzzles, chess sets, laptops, etc.
5) Assessment Method
This is the final step of your lesson plan that helps you measure your students’ understanding. Although you will perform a ‘mini assessment’ in the “You do” section of your lesson plan, you can conduct assessments separately.
There are several ways to measure your students’ learning. Below are the most common options:
- Asking your students to teach the concept
- Group presentations
- Thematic tournaments (for example, letting your students play a tournament from the Sicilian Dragon after you’ve taught the opening)
Structure of a lesson plan
When we put together all the elements of a lesson plan, we get a basic structure:
And that’s it – with a simple lesson plan like this, you can be better prepared for your classes and make them more effective. This can be super-handy when you ask another coach to fill in for you. Even if they are not prepared for the classes, having a lesson plan like this on hand will give them the confidence to teach effectively.
P.S. Did you find this information useful? Do you follow other better ways to plan for your classes? Feel free to write your thoughts in the comments below.