Lesson Plan: Alternative conceptions

Secondary School Science Teaching Methods

Adam Johnston & Sharon Ohlhorst

DUE: Monday, November 29th


Design a lesson that addresses a specific misconception that is related to your core curriculum.  Most likely you will use some of the work that you have already done to inform your lesson, but you are encouraged to do more research as well.  (You could also consider other readings and resources on constructivism and conceptual change.)  You are free to address any typical misconception, however it may be most efficient to address one that you’ve already been researching and reading about.


For this lesson plan, make it very clear what alternative conception you are addressing, and make it explicit how you are going to deal with this conception.  As most research shows, having the students actively involved in confronting their previous understandings is essential to a lesson with the goal of conceptual change. 



bullet Your lesson plan should be created so that it is for your own use, but it should be clear enough that an informed person from your class could also understand the lesson plan.
bullet You should identify and explicitly describe how you are addressing a specific concept to be learned.  Include a brief cover letter that reflects this.
bullet Your lesson should be “inquiry based.”  This may take lots of different forms, but in a nutshell, this means that the students should be constructing their own understandings.  Keep in mind that there are lots of activities that might look as though they are inquiry based because students are playing with stuff, but if you are telling them what to do, it isn’t allowing students to construct knowledge, change conceptions, etc. 
bullet You should include in your lesson plan a description of how you will assess the learning of this concept.  Utilize work that has already been done and presented in class.


Your lesson will be graded according to the rubric that focuses on the following items:

  1. The explicit nature by which you address this alternative conception.
  2. The scientific "correctness" of the new conception being taught.
  3. The level of inquiry based learning.
  4. The appropriateness and thoughtfulness of the assessment technique.
  5. The clarity of the lesson plan in its written form.


Have fun!  This assignment should be engaging, because you are starting to really think about the nature of learning by real people; and it should be useful, because you really will be using this in your future classroom.