• Science Practical (7)

Interactive teaching and learning blog

Fried Egg Planning: Top Tips

September 17th 2017

Number One: 3 questions

When planning your lessons, always ask yourself these three questions. By doing so, you will create a better sense of ‘flow’ within your lesson.

  1. What will you be doing?

  2. What learning activity will your students be doing & what resources will they need?

  3. What do you need to do to facilitate the next stage of the lesson?

The questions will focus your thinking on what is coming up and you can then plan for smoother transitions. You don’t want to overload students with resources by giving them everything they will need throughout the lesson at the start (this just causes confusion and provides materials for them to get distracted by) so plan when you will 'feed them in'. You also don’t want to give them opportunities to go off task during 'sloppy' transitions so think them through and get the sequencing right first time.

By thinking about the three questions in advance, you will be able to anticipate the opportunities to give out resources, while you know the students are on another task for example. You can also judge how much you are having to do compared to the students - remember, they should be working harder than you!

Number Two: Get a Box & Go For Ten

The likelihood is that during your training year, you will be moving around. Each classroom will have resources stored in different places and not every teacher will be as organised in terms of having everything you need - so get a box and fill it with the vital items. By sticking to ‘10’ pens, ‘10’ rulers etc, when it comes to collecting them back in at the end, you have an easy check. Appoint a student in the class to collect the different items at the end and count them (notice how we did this on Friday - Charlie the pens, Lisa the whiteboards and Kathy the envelopes) - you can then just do a cursory check to make sure you have everything back - don’t let the class go until you have everything! *Do think about how you will deal with it if something does go missing - it will probably be a genuine mistake - but don’t allow the situation to turn into a big conflict!

Resources to consider putting in the box:

Pens, pencils, rulers, board pens, board rubber

Lined paper, plain paper, blank exercise books

When it comes to organising students who have forgotten things, either set up a routine so they fetch the items themselves at an appropriate time, or get the whole class going before dealing with the individuals - at least consider your plan of action and be ‘in charge’ of the process, not controlled by the class!

Number Three: make a list

Cut down on unproductive time in the morning. Make a list the night before, prioritise it and get straight on in the morning. It is satisfying to be able to tick off simple things, and there will be things that need doing immediately because you need a resource for a lesson Period One and you have no time to prepare in between then and your next 2 lessons. Despite this, don’t keep putting off the trickier tasks else they will just cause stress: besides, they are generally less onerous than you anticipate.

Number Four: Flexible Resource Design

When designing resources, consider how you might:

  1. Make them versatile enough to be used in multiple learning situations e.g. laminated cards labelled A-I can be used over and again when linked to statements that students can rank (diamond of nine) or organise in numerous ways. Laminated arrows in science teaching might be another example! (courtesy of @teachingofsci) 

  2. Think about how a resource can be used and developed during a lesson  - why create 5 different resources for a lesson when you can deepen the thinking by using the same resource. Just use Blooms to help you think about developing a task that takes the thinking deeper.

​E.G. Revision lesson on plate tectonics (or a lesson finding out how much students already know)

​a. Students create a set of 20 cards, each with a keyword associated with your topic (Remembering)

b. Students play ‘’Taboo’, one person describing the word and the others guessing what it is they are describing (Comprehension)

c. Students categorise the cards e.g. words that could be used to label a composite cone volcano, words that relate to a constructive plate boundary etc (Analytical)

d. Students choose the words relating to both constructive and destructive plate boundaries and begin to make judgements as to why there are differences between the landforms found at each (Evaluation)

Notice how one activity flows into the next. When planning your lessons, think about how one activity supports the successful completion of the next (scaffolding/ sequencing) and achieving the lesson objective.

Number Five: Get organised!

You are going to be incredibly busy juggling multiple tasks. Think through how you can simplify the routine tasks you have to carry out during the week. This will free up time for the new responsibilities you have, but also allow you to build in a bit of downtime wherever possible.

One example for me is that by producing our lunches and breakfasts for the week in a kind of production line on Sunday, it is one less job to do each evening - it means that we don’t feel as though the evening is just preparation for the next day at the office!

Number Six: Be a helicopter!

It is really easy to become totally ensconced in helping individual students, especially when you first start teaching. It is natural that you want to do this, but you need to look at the bigger picture.

Spatial awareness is critical: you need to develop the flexible neck of David Silva!

Some of the things to consider:

  1. Hold back from going to help the first person who puts up their hand when you set a task: wait a moment, because if one person is unsure what to do, there are probably ten others in the same boat - by waiting a moment, you can judge this and then help everyone, instead of fire fighting one at a time and then dealing with the subsequent deterioration in behaviour. Anyway, you should be asking to students to think for themselves for a moment or two before putting up their hands and so start with this.

  2. When helping an individual, position yourself so you can see the rest of the class. One eye on helping the student - the other on the group as a whole. Intervene early if you notice the class not doing what you expected - it is likely they don’t get what you expect of them.

  3. Take time to stand back and just observe the class: you can learn a lot from just watching the students work and it also gives them time to get on independently. If they are going to build resilience, you will need to structure your time to create that opportunity.

Number Seven: Do it now!

Can you make your starter a ‘do it now’ or at least have a ‘do it now’ task ready as students enter.

Some advantages of doing this are that:

  • As a teacher moving around from room to room, it gives you time to organise yourself while students work

  • No time wasted and no time for disruption

  • No dead time while taking a register

  • Becomes part of your class routines

  • Can be used part way through a lesson as a settling activity after something more active

Principles of good do it now activities might include links to the lesson objectives and the next task, challenging enough to engage but not requiring lots of explanation, easy to set e.g. on one slide on your ppt or on a piece of paper given to students as they enter the class and requiring writing/ individual work that occupies them (discussion tasks are great - but perhaps wait until you are more confident in your management!). Copy a title, summary followed by reading a short piece of text isn’t very imaginative but can work where you want to get a settled start to a lesson with a challenging group!

Number Eight: Visual Clues

Build visual clues into your presentations e.g. if you use think, pair, share as a strategy regularly and you have planned it into your lesson, why not build in a visual clue to your lesson? This way, the process requires less explanation because students see the clue and know what is expected. It's all about the routines you build to improve learning.

Number Nine: Hinge Point Questions

Dylan Wiliam suggests that every lesson should have at least one hinge point question planned. The idea is that you can quickly assess whether the students in the class have understood the key concepts taught up until that point. If they haven’t the idea is that you switch tack and ensure they do understand before moving on.

A good hinge point question should:

  • Focus on the key concepts, not ‘the noise’

  • Allow you to assess in less than 30 seconds whether the whole class have understood

Number Ten: Differentiate

It doesn’t matter how simple the differentiation is, you need to do it. Taking it from the simple point of view of managing behaviour, if a student cannot access the task you have given them, you are asking for trouble. If you are not sure how to differentiate for a particular student, ask for advice - just get into the habit of doing it from the start!

Number Eleven: Presenting information

  1. Use a beige background for slides as this makes it easier for many students to read

  2. Don’t use red, green or yellow pens or text - harder to see in some cases and students who are colour blind often can’t see red or green

  3. Try to use font 24 in PPTs - generally recognised as a good size for presentations

  4. Move along the whiteboard as you write - it aids keeping your writing straight!

Number Twelve: It’s all about relationships!

If you build a great relationship with your class, they will do anything for you!

Do everything you can to build trust and to get them on side - smile, praise, have fun, work hard, challenge and enjoy!

Number Thirteen - Keep it Simple Stupid

Remember the fried egg. A lesson is a journey - think about the comfort, stretch and panic zones as you plan. If you think about the lesson as a journey amongst these zones and think about your activities and objectives in this context, it will all make sense.

Good luck!


Filed under: Teacher training Posted at 17:11

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