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Keeping students engaged for a whole class period is the dream of every educator. But how can we accomplish this goal? Well, keeping things interesting and different in the classroom is one strategy to try out. If every class session has the same structure, students can quickly grow bored or complacent. So, here are five different ways to structure a week of class. 

5 Approaches to Structuring a Week of Class

The 5 Class Structure Designs:

To clarify, the structures I list below are based on a two day teaching schedule. I usually teach Tuesday/Thursday classes that are 75 minutes each. But, the structures work well for 3 day classes, too, since most of the approaches involve three parts. If you teach only 1 day a week, then I recommend adding short breaks between each part of the designs listed below. Quick snack and bathroom breaks are always appreciated in a 3 or 4 hour class session!

Medium-Length Lecture, Individual Activity, Whole Class Discussion

Day 1: A lecture that only takes about half the class time; An individual activity that can be finished for homework, if needed

Try to make your lecture interactive. I recommend using Pear Deck (tutorial) or Mentimeter (tutorial) for this goal, but just pausing and asking questions works, too

Day 2: A whole class discussion that you or your students facilitate

I have students facilitate discussions using this activity. If you prefer being the facilitator, make sure to use different discussion designs as often as possible. Here’s a blog post with F2F discussion ideas. And here are ideas for online discussions.

Long Lecture, Homework Activity, Whole Class Discussion

Day 1: A lecture that take up all of the class time

Remember, add interaction as often as possible!

Homework: An individual activity

Make sure this activity includes writing something down or finding something and bringing it to class. This activity provides preparation for Thursday’s class.

Day 2: A whole class discussion

Again, use a variety of discussion designs.


Short Lecture, Small Group Activity, Whole Class Discussion

Day 1: A short lecture that takes up less than half the class period; A small group activity that can be finished by the time class ends

Small group activities involve students introducing themselves to each other and getting over the awkwardness of working together for perhaps the first time. Also, students can get easily distracted in their conversations. So, make sure a large chunk of time is available to work on this activity.

Day 2: A whole class discussion

In this case, for the discussion design, have the small groups present their activity answers to the class. They can pick a group representative to speak up, for example. Or, each member can present one element of the activity. Then, you can add follow up discussion questions that mesh well with the activity answers.

Think, Pair, Share

Day 1: Think and Pair Activity

Have students do an individual activity. I recommend having them write something down. Then, have students pair up and discuss their answers and perhaps collaborate on doing a follow up activity.

Day 2: Share Activity

Students discuss their answers or findings in a whole class discussion. You can design this sharing activity in different ways.

Whole Class Discussion, Whole Class Discussion

Day 1: One whole class discussion design

Again, there are many designs to pick from. I recommend starting with one that gets students the most invested. Perhaps a Kahoot (tutorial) game or debate.

Day 2: A different whole class discussion design

Even more discussion here, using a different design than the first day.

This final structure can work really well when you have a class activity that involves students facilitating class discussions. One group can go on the first day and another the second day.

Final Thoughts

I teach writing and literature classes, so discussion is key. If your course involves a lot less discussion, I still recommend finding moments were discussion is possible. A class that only involves lectures and independent work is a class that can easily become very monotonous. [Here are some participation activities to try out, as well.] Not a good description for a class. If you want more lesson planning ideas, head on over to my YouTube channel and check out the videos in my New Instructors playlist or Hybrid Teaching playlist. Or, explore this blog using the categories drop down menu in the sidebar.

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