Didactic planning: what is it and how is it developed in education?
Let's see what this typical process of formal education in schools, institutes, etc. consists of.
In any academic course it is essential that the teacher thinks, before the classes begin, how the course will be conducted. He/she should think about the objectives to be achieved, the strategies and contents to be taught, the evaluation method, among other aspects.
All this is taken into account during didactic planningThis is the process in which the teaching program is elaborated and it is predicted, more or less accurately, how the course will progress. Next we will see more in depth what it is and how it is elaborated.
What is the didactic planning?
The didactic planning, or educational programming, is the process in which the teacher makes a series of decisions regarding the educational contents to be taught, transforming them into concrete and specific activities and specific activities, in order to be able to establish the knowledge among their students.
During the didactic planning, a program is elaborated in which all the knowledge to be covered is incorporated. It also takes into account the objectives, the characteristics of the students and the contents that have already been seen in previous trainings. Based on this, during this process all the activities that will be seen throughout the course are described in a clear and specific way, as well as indicating which strategies will be used during the course.The strategies to be followed to achieve the objectives and the way in which progress will be evaluated are also indicated.
Although these programs are intended to be applied in their original and total form throughout the academic year, they are not closed programs. That is to say, depending on how the course progresses, new content may be incorporated throughout the course.. This is due to the fact that things may happen that change the context and the particular reality, aspects that cannot be overlooked.
Didactic plans must comply with a few fundamental characteristics in order to be effective, adaptable to how learning develops throughout the academic year and useful for both teachers and students.
The first of these resources is that they must be written down, either on paper or in digital format.. In the document the strategies and objectives to be achieved will be placed in a structured way, detailing everything that is necessary and making it as clear and concise as possible. These strategies must not ignore the educational framework of the institution with which they work, i.e., what standard content the center wants the students to assimilate.
These objectives and strategies cannot be decided individually. The teacher should turn to other teachers who have taught the same subject in other courses, to ask them how they have approached a certain content or what strategy they used back then and how it went. They should also be asked if they consider it appropriate to teach such content, or if they consider that there are better alternatives.
The didactic planning should be flexibleThe didactic planning should be flexible, given that throughout the course events may occur that make it necessary to change part of the syllabus, or to shorten the duration of the topics and advance exams. Likewise, the proposed program should be realistic in terms of both objectives and strategies, and its application should be conceived as viable.
Instructional planning seeks to answer several questions regarding how students are going to learn. Among these questions are:
- What competencies do you want students to acquire?
- What should be done to get them to acquire them?
- How should they be planned? What activities should be done?
- How can we evaluate whether the activities planned have fulfilled the objectives?
Based on all this, the following elements should be well specified in all didactic planning:
1. Objectives and contents.
The objectives are the achievements that are planned to be reached at the end of the educational process. In other words, what you want that the students have learned through teaching and learning experiences, which have been previously planned.which were previously planned.
These objectives should be clearly stated in the written program, written in the infinitive and be as specific and concrete as possible. For example, if we are writing the didactic planning for the biology subject of the second year of high school, an example of a teaching plan objective would be:
"To learn the functioning of cells, the organelles that compose them and their functions, extending this knowledge to the learning of the phases of the mitotic and meiotic processes."
The contents are the set of concepts, procedures, skills, abilities and attitudes that will serve to achieve the proposed objectives. An example of content related to the previous objective would be "Cell function and reproduction".
2. Tasks and activities
Didactic activities are the practical part of the academic course. They are those actions that are planned so that the students can assimilate the knowledge imparted in the classroom..
3. Learning assessment
Lastly, we have learning assessment. It is essential to to measure to what extent the students have been able to assimilate the knowledge that has been seen in class. that have been seen in class. What is to be assessed, how it is to be assessed and at what moment must be described.
However, the application of the evaluation is not only intended to determine which students have learned and which have not, but also to measure whether the program developed and applied so far has really helped.
Steps to elaborate didactic planning
Taking into account the elements that all didactic planning must have, we now move on to the essential steps to be able to develop it adequately.
1. Establishing the contents to be taught
This is the first point to start with in the didactic planning. Establish the contents to be taught in a conscientious way. is the way to make sure that you are providing materials that are able to inform students and prepare them to make their own decisions or be more independent in future courses.and prepare them to be able to make their own decisions or be more independent in future courses.
These contents will follow three phases. In the first phase, learning will be focused on concepts and theories, i.e. in a conceptual way. Subsequently, learning in the form of know-how will be oriented.. Finally, the focus will be on making students learn how to learn to be.
To understand this better, let us take the case of mathematics in the fourth year of secondary school, where trigonometry is to be taught:
The first point to start with will be conceptual, that is, to define what trigonometry is, what are the concepts of sine, cosine and tangent and their mathematical formulas. Once this part has been seen, we will move on to the procedural part, making the students solve mathematical problems in which the trigonometric rules have to be used.
Finally, either in the exam or in later mathematics courses, having assimilated these trigonometric rules, students will be able to use them in all kinds of arithmetic problems in which they have to calculate, for example, heights based on the degree of inclination of the shadow cast by the object.
2. Investigate the needs of the students.
Deciding what content to teach does not make much sense if the needs of the students are not taken into account. It is possible that these same students have previously had problems in learning knowledge that we assume they should have already well assimilated. If they do not know what has gone before, it is difficult for them to learn what is new correctly.
It is for this reason that it is very necessary for the teacher to investigate what he/she considers appropriate to teach the students, what is really worthwhile for them to acquire. It is not only enough to know what they have given and what they have not given in previous years, in addition to knowing if there is knowledge from previous years that should be reviewed.
It is also necessary to know the students' desires, what they would like to learn, what are their goals in life if they were to learn.What are their goals in life if they are in very advanced courses, such as the end of high school or higher education.
For example, if we are English teachers in a place with a lot of tourism and we know that most of our students want to work in this sector, it will be essential to incorporate in the syllabus a topic of English with phrases and vocabulary related to the world of hospitality, bars, stores...
3. Define goals and final objective of the classes
The goals and the final objective of the classes will be established. It is very important to take into account the time in which it is believed that they will be achieved and, as the didactic planning is carried out, to see if they are in line with them. and, as you carry out the didactic planning, see if you are in tune with them.
4. Make it flexible
You will not always be able to comply with the didactic planning, since all kinds of unforeseen events may occur during the course. It is for this reason that it is very important that the methodology be prepared for alterations, being ideal to leave spaces between contents.It is therefore very important that the methodology be prepared for alterations, ideally leaving spaces between content to be able to include new content if necessary, or to reformulate objectives and goals.
It may also be necessary to make changes at the student's request.. To the extent that their criticisms are fair and well-founded, teachers must be prepared to incorporate changes in the program that are appropriate to these demands and that do not entail a too exaggerated departure from the initial objectives.
To give an example, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made it necessary to change part of the syllabus in biology courses in all high schools, basically for two reasons. The first, since it is such an important virus, we cannot miss the opportunity to explain it in the classroom, making students aware of the health risks it entails. The second has to do with the fact that we have had to move from face-to-face to online classes, which implies having to change the evaluation methodology.
There are different ways in which the students can be evaluatedAll of these are dependent on the subject being taught or the content that has been seen. During the didactic planning, and as a provisional way, the evaluation dates will be established, whether they are exams or important work deliveries, or also alternative activities depending on the situation.
- Alonso Tejada, M. E. (2009). "La planeación didáctica". Cuadernos de Formación de Profesores 3: 1-10.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)