There are somethings that I just prefer to have written down. I often plan lessons as I’m walking around or doing jobs around the house or travelling to school. I find that one idea triggers another and the lessons evolve into something different from year to year or even week to week. I am not the kind of teacher that has a set PowerPoint lesson that I use year on year on year. In fact, whenever possible I try to avoid PowerPoint like the plague. I use technology constantly in the lesson, it isn’t that I don’t like the tech. I just dislike the monotony that a presentation can bring to a lesson. A lesson needs to be fluid enough to readdress a point for some or all pupils. To move on more quickly if they’ve already got that knowledge or to split off into an extension group or support group as needed. This can’t happen as readily if the teacher is following a pre-prepared PowerPoint to the letter.
So far in this post I’ve said that my plans start off in my head (of course they do, where else are they going to start!) and that I don’t particularly like PowerPoint. Unfortunately I also have a terrible memory and I am a perfectionist who never likes to be under-prepared. So for each lesson I like to have notes written down. About 5 years ago I decided that the traditional planner wasn’t for me. I find them ugly and the boxes are never the right size. So I made my own.
I used an ARC notebook from Staples and printed my own planning sheets. (These are now really expensive, so I’m moving over to the original disc bound notebook called Atoma and I ordered one recently from Cult Pens in the UK).
My planner started off as just empty boxes, into which I would add key info on a starter, main activities and a plenary. I’ve also experimented with the 5 minute lesson plan which I love but find that for most lessons it still takes too long to fill out and because I like to hand-write it I find I am using too much paper. So I experimented in making the 5 minute lesson plan shorter.
I am currently reading The Learning Rainforest and I am also working my way through a Future Learn course on Biology Practicals. Both of these have developed my understanding of the importance of clear learning objectives and success criteria that are shared with the students. With this in mind I have designed a planner template to put these at the forefront of my planning.
Below is one box, I have 6 to a page at the moment.
The knowledge, equipment and scientific enquiry boxes come from the Future Learn course where it was discussed that with practical lessons taking a long time to set up and execute, the focus of the lesson (or the reason why we are even doing that practical) needs to be clearly communicated from the beginning. Are they carrying out an enzyme practical to gain further knowledge into how enzymes are affected by temperature? If so an annotated diagram could be the success criteria. Or are they learning how to use appropriate equipment to collect a gas? Here the success criteria could be a completed results table showing a range of gases. Or are they developing their understanding of the scientific approach to enquiry? In which case they could evaluate the method they used and compare it to an alternative.
Once I know the focus of the lesson and the relevant success criteria I can then jot down the main activities and relevant homework.
So that’s how I plan. I could digitise this, but there are just somethings I like to have written down. I’m sure I feel more confident when I’ve planned in this way.