How to Create a Lesson Plan from a DSST Fact Sheet
By Shannen Espelien of Middle Way Mom
There are plenty of study guides and test prep books available, but as a homeschooling parent sometimes you may want to transform test preparation content into items that can be taught for a full class. Whatever your goal is for how your student acquires the knowledge, the DSST Fact Sheet can help you create your own lesson plans. This will allow you to cut costs on specialized materials.
Elements of the DSST Fact Sheet
- Exam Information – This section will tell you some pretty general information about the test. You can find the time limit and number of questions in this section.
- Exam Content Outline – This is an important area when making your lesson plan, as it will tell you the topics that will be tested, along with a rough percentage of how many questions on the test fall within that topic.
- References – You will find books and other media that will help you study for the test. Some tests only list two sources, while others list many more.
- Sample Questions – A short list of questions that are at the general difficulty you can expect to find on the test.
- Credit Recommendations – No school is required to follow these recommendations, but it’s a good starting point when asking your school of choice what they award for a passed exam.
When the Fact Sheet only lists two resources, it’s advantageous to simply use those two when creating a lesson plan. So far, we have been able to find each resource in used condition for fairly cheap on Amazon.com.
Some exams have numerous resources, far too many to reasonably be used for one exam. One resource that I would suggest is free-clep-prep.com (the site is not limited to CLEP exams). They are good at determining which resources are helpful with and without a Fact Sheet.
Creating the Lesson Plan
Now that you know what will be covered on the test and you have the books in hand, sit down with a cup of coffee, a quarter planner, and a pencil. There is a type-able planner also available on the page that I linked to if you prefer.
I always start with a general overview of the book, referencing the Fact Sheet and the topics covered. I’ll normally pencil in the chapter numbers next to a printed Fact Sheet to help me with lining things up. When two books cover the same topic (as they often do), a quick scan through the section will help determine if one or both books should be used. If both books have nearly the same amount of content, I always choose the one with more charts, graphs, and pictures, so it is more interesting to read for my students.
There are two ways to start constructing the day-to-day plan: a daily time limit, or a week or month course term limit. When I am planning on awarding my students a high school credit for the work they do, I start with a term limit such as one semester or a full year. When the exam is purely to earn college credits, we usually go with a daily limit, normally an hour each day.
Start filling in your rough draft in the quarter planner, listing the reading assignments, supplemental work, and review questions as necessary. Start with what topics are listed on the Fact Sheet and find the corresponding pages in your textbooks. You will decide how much to assign per day based on how long you expect the course to take (a semester or one year) or how long it will take your student to work through the assigned work.
Sometimes there will be gaps where the exam does not cover areas of the book. It’s purely personal choice whether you decide to cover those areas with your student or not. In some instances, we have completely skipped those sections and at other times, we cover it but not in depth.
Review your lesson plan again and make any changes you see fit. I love typing up the final draft because it’s easy to look at, and easy to change if we determine that the flow of work I assigned isn’t working well.
Creating a lesson plan based on the Fact Sheet does take a little bit of time and concentration, but is pretty straight forward. With the right resources, and knowing what topics are covered on the test, you can create a successful environment for your student!
Shannen homeschools her 14 year-old daughter with a concentration on credit-by-exam and shares her journey, along with her faith, parenting, and managing little ones at www.middlewaymom.com. She enjoys making the most of their time by aligning courses with exams, and shares her lesson plans as they are made, on her blog.