From Good to Outstanding
When it comes to planning for and delivering outstanding lessons we all try our hardest to keep up with the latest ‘buzz’ ideas in order to please the powers that be, whoever they may be.
As a frustrated teacher I found that sometimes, to use an analogy, I was a performing monkey in the classroom aiming to please all.
I have decided to put a few ideas on the page that might help other teachers in my position. My aim is to strip back and offer some simple advice on what I feel works well in the classroom.
Create thought provoking starter activities – have the starter ready on the whiteboard/desk for when students arrive– get class to start as latecomers arrive.
I often use ‘Thunks’ to get the lesson started, google it of you don’t know what I mean.
Use tiered learning objectives: These can be colour coded to help students realise progression from green to orange to red means difficulty increases.
Use learning objectives not task based objectives.
I often use in degree of order:
define/recall/describe/summarise (green L/O)
explain/compare/discuss/compose (orange L/O)
anaylse/evaluate/investigate (red L/O)
Refer to learning objectives consistently throughout the lesson – not just the beginning and the end.
If someone walks in to your lesson half way through, always stop the class and ask questions to show the observer where the class is up to, stop them and ask more questions after 10 mins so that you can show that progress has been made.
Use hinge point questions (questions to test understanding before allowing students to move on to the next learning objective)
I always try and plan some questions before the lesson and target pupils of different abilities, or use the Pose, Pause, Pounce method….again, google the if you are unsure or look on twitter @teachertoolkit for more examples.
Have mini-whiteboards on the desk most lessons-even if you hadn’t planned to use them, you might find them invaluable when you have to re-model a task and think on your feet.
Make sure your resources are creative and have learning objectives on worksheets so students know where they are in the lesson.
Avoid getting students to copy out definitions/key information- get them to work for this information themselves – this will improve skills rather than just improving knowledge.
Step back from being the expert in the class from time to time and let students show their ability to learn independently using the following: thunks/odd one out/choose the correct definition/here’s the answer- what was the question?
Use different types of activities from lesson to lesson – aim to keep students on their toes each lesson so they do not know what to expect.
Re-model tasks verbally to help differentiate – you can verbally scaffold tasks for individual students without having to have 8 zillion different worksheets.
Ensure that you speak to every student in the room at least once during a lesson(say hello, ask them a question, praise them, comment on their work).
If students simply aren’t getting the content of your lesson, don’t soldier on in fear of deviating from your lesson plan; instead, re-model and re-shape your learning objectives and lesson.
Ask probing, open-ended questions; ask them to the students without their hands up; even better, apply a ‘no-hands’ up policy from time to time.
Be consistent with behaviour rules/discipline with every student in the class.
Ensure you know where the learners are with their progression by using AFL. Possible suggestions: mini-whiteboards/post it notes/summative and formative assessment etc.)
Always have an extension task or two ready – students should never run out of work to complete.
Ensure that you complete a plenary to find out which students have reached which learning objective –Most importantly, use this information to plan for the next lesson.
Most of all – have fun and enjoy having the chance to show how good/outstanding you are! I always use lesson observations as a method of testing something new out so that I can get feedback on the new method I might be trying. Do not be shy to try something, take a risk and see what happens.
I hope this helps 🙂