The Session Plan and Approach

Now that we know how an ideal SI session should work, it’s time to make our own. The SI session planning sheet is divided into four sections: basic information, objectives, activities, and follow-up. We’ll look at each section separately.

Basic Information

This part of the session plan is rather self-explanatory. It does need to be filled out on every plan, though!

Objective Planning

The objective planning area is a place to develop the goals of your session. Both content and study skills need to be considered when trying to create your objectives. This section of the planning sheet will help you organize your thoughts while integrating study skills into the class content. By utilizing the objective planning section, you can create better sessions.

Keep the following questions in mind as you narrow your focus:

  • What prior knowledge is needed to truly understand the new material?
  • Do you foresee any problem areas with the new material?
  • What do the students need to learn, accomplish or reinforce to truly understand this concept?
  • Are there specific study skills that will help me accomplish this?
  • How is what I am planning to do during this session going to help my students?

Activity Planning

Skill-based activities integrate course content and learning skills to promote student development and comprehension. Every person learns differently, and a normal lecture setting may only be the optimal learning environment for a few students. Your job as a leader is to maximize the learning opportunities for students by holding sessions that are diverse and encourage the students’ participation in activities that enrich their unique learning strengths.

As an SI leader, you provide an opportunity that is not readily available in other courses. Students can hear a lecture in class or practice while doing homework; in a session, however, students can learn how to learn. By using activities that provide different perspectives on the content or enhance the efficiency of study time, you are helping the students in your class become strong, independent learners.

Careful consideration of your objectives is the key to choosing good activities. By asking yourself what you want to accomplish in the session and what skills the students need to take away from it, you will keep your session activities purpose-driven and relevant. Many of the activities listed in this manual can serve multiple purposes, but also keep in mind that there are lots of resources – such as fellow and former leaders – with outstanding ideas for activities.

Check page 27 for a more detailed look at activities and how you can choose a relevant activity for any situation or challenge.

Follow-Up

Part of learning is self-evaluation. Taking time to evaluate your performance after each session helps you improve, and there is a section of the session plan reserved for it.

Use the follow-up space to comment on your own performance. Your responses are evaluated only on the amount of thought you invested, so don’t be afraid to give yourself constructive criticism. Don’t forget that follow-up also includes verifying student attendance and marking total attendance. Any handouts you use should be attached as well.Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How closely did you follow your plan? Why did you change it? If you didn’t, what worked?
  2. What was the overall mood of the session?
  3. Where did you spend most of your time? Did you spend a lot more time during the warm-up? Where did the students need the most attention?
  4. Who talked more – you or the students?
  5. What ideas would you revise and use again? Which ones were so good that you don’t have to revise?
  6. If no one came to your session, what steps can you take to improve your attendance?
  7. Look ahead to your next session, or even your next few sessions. Based on this session, what preliminary plans do you have for future sessions?
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