Whether you’re teaching a group of students once a week or every day, cohesion between lessons is critical. The start of each lesson isn’t a time to reset, but an opportunity to build upon what was learned the previous class period.

When working to create cohesion between lesson plans, try thinking of your lessons as legs of a journey. You have your point of origin and you know your destination—it’s up to you to determine your route on this academic road trip.

Create a roadmap.

Whether you’re taking the scenic route or going for a straight shot on this path to educational success, it’s important to create a roadmap. This roadmap could be in the form of an overall theme—or monthly or even weekly themes—that you tie to the lessons you prepare for class. For example, if you’re a social studies teacher teaching your students about the democratic process and separation of powers, each branch of government—Legislative, Judicial, and Executive—would be points on your map.

Assign end-of-day adventures.

When you’re on a long road trip, some of the best experiences come at the end of the day when you’ve stopped in a new place to unearth all the wonderful things it has to offer. (It could be a jukebox filled with timeless classics at a hole-in-the-wall diner or the early work of a famous architect, but it’s new to you.) Homework should be a natural extension of the day’s lesson that provides students an opportunity not to just show off their understanding of the material, but also to discover something new along the educational journey you’ve mapped out for them. This is a great way to make homework fun and empower students to search for something—think timely news stories—that they can share with the class and fuel the journey.

Plan for side trips.

Begin each class with a loose review of what was covered previously and take time to discuss your overarching theme before diving into the lesson. This way you’ll be aware of what your students understand and what topics and ideas you may need to spend a little more time on. At the end of class, try to build in some time to let students have a turn at the wheel. Maybe they’ll want to talk about creating a group project or plan a “side trip” related to the lesson. (They may have seen something along the journey that you hadn’t considered and they want to explore it a bit more.) By giving them an opportunity to be at the helm, you’ll empower your students and assure them that the destination is well worth the trip.

What strategies do you use to create cohesion between your lesson plans? Share your ideas below!