Planning for Learning: A How-To
1. Start with an OBJECTIVE!
This has been a MAJOR FOCUS on my campus the past 2 years. I can't stress this one enough. The only way to successfully plan your teaching is to begin with the objective in mind. This should be a measurable learning outcome that students need to know or be able to do by the end of the class. The objective you post should include what the students need to know AND how they will learn it. Having this specific and measurable focus prevents the teacher with feeling the need to fill the valuable class time with information that isn't necessary. It's all about "staying in your lane" and most importantly, the kids want and need to know what you expect them to know.
I always post Guiding Questions on the board right next to the objective. This helps students focus on the exact questions that they should be able to answer by the end of the lesson or unit.
Here is an example:
Students should know that the changes in the moon's phases are due to changes in the angle between the Sun, Moon, and Earth by conducting the Lunar Lollipop Investigation.
It is specific and kid-friendly. Students know what they need to know and how they will learn it.
2. Plan for Mastery
You, the teacher, have about 45 minutes (or more, if you're lucky) to have every student meet your objective. In my example, this means you have 45 minutes for your students to learn and demonstrate mastery of the cause of moon phases.
How in the world will you do it? If you're asking yourself this question, you're off to a great start. You've successfully changed your focus from filling time to using time. Answering this question is the reason you get a paycheck - this is your job. You are an expert in getting kids to learn. Not only that, but you need to continue to get better at it.
- Planning Activities
- Preparing Materials
- Preplanning Questions (yes, preplanning) and
- Synthesizing everything into a smooth, focused lesson
Summarizing could include any of the following:
- An Exit Ticket
- Asking a specific content-related question or more general questions like...
- What was one thing you learned today?
- How does today's lesson impact your understanding about .....?
- How would you summarize today's lesson for someone who wasn't here?
- What "a-ha" did you have today?
- What was the most difficult concept in today's lesson?
- What should I review further in our next lesson?
- Ask students to write down one potential test question from today's lesson. Collect them as students leave the room. Hang onto them - you may wish to use one or two on an upcoming quiz/test.
- If you are running short on time:
- on a scale of 1-5 (using your fingers) rate today's lesson. (Have everyone close their eyes to eliminate peer pressure or embarrassment.)
- As you leave today, I'll be at the door. Please share with me one word or concept you learned today.
- A simple closure comment, such as:
- Today we learned this....tomorrow we will continue by doing...
- Tonight you will show that you learned ... by completing the homework tonight.