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Prerequisite Relationships & Lesson Planning: Uses & Examples

Instructor: Brittany Aga

Brittany has taught high school and college courses and has a master's degree from Clemson University.

This lesson is designed to help you gain an understanding of prerequisites and the relationship they have with lesson planning. Examples and uses of prerequisites will be explored for further understanding of this relationship.

Learning to Run Before You Can Walk

Imagine you had to learn to run before you could walk. That would prove to be a bit challenging without prior knowledge of how to use your legs properly. Learning information without the proper prerequisite can be challenging to understand. A prerequisite is anything that you need to know or understand first before attempting to learn or understand something new. In the example mentioned above, you would need the prerequisite of knowing how to walk before you could learn to run.

Building Off of Our Prior Knowledge

Can you imagine having to learn how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious before learning the alphabet and phonics? Each part of our learning process is based on something we already know. In an educational setting, it is especially important to remember that the content you are sharing may be very familiar to you as the educator, but can be considered rocket science to those you are trying to teach.

In order to reach the minds of those you are teaching, it is important to take a step back and remind yourself of when and where you learned the information and if there was any prior knowledge, or prerequisites, that you had beforehand. For example, you may have learned how to multiply in the fifth grade, but would you have been able to do so without knowing how to add? Probably not. It is important to never assume that each student has the same knowledge. It is better to assume they have no knowledge required for the subject material.

Why is Lesson Planning Important?

Would you buy a car or a house without a plan? Well, maybe some of us would, but it may not be the best idea. Having a plan is one of the most effective ways to stay on task, meet standards and achieve goals. Having a lesson plan is very important and expected in most educational settings. A lesson plan allows you to lay out what you want to achieve and teach your students at a given time. Included in your lesson plan should be your goal or objective, any prerequisites needed to review prior to instruction, any tools you need for instruction, an overview of your instruction to follow, and a review at the end to test comprehension of the material. In order to properly lesson plan with the appropriate prerequisites, it is important to be very knowledgeable of the subject matter with which you are teaching. As an educator, it is especially difficult to teach without knowing the subject matter yourself.

In addition to having a complete understanding and knowledge base about the subject matter, you must also be very aware of the student base you will be working with. Each group of students is different and requires different teaching methods, activities, and materials in order to learn effectively. First you must understand the educational background that your students have in order to develop your lesson plan and decide on which prerequisites to review or introduce. Some groups of students may require you to teach more prerequisites than others. For example, one group of first graders may be able to complete a worksheet on the alphabet straight out of kindergarten, while another may need some review or help with understanding, reading, and writing the alphabet. Once you understand your student base and their existing knowledge, you can individualize your education plan.

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