Things were so much simpler when I was told that if I just followed the Madeline Hunter model of lesson planning, classroom life would be sweet. My, how things have changed since I was in school to be a teacher.
The past few days, I've been on a hunt for the Lesson Plan Holy Grail. Not just for myself, but for my colleagues. In fact, I'm such a darned fool for this idea, that I agreed to do my presentation on it for the Secondary Curriculum Day. (You know---the one I had no clue as to what to do.) At this point, it feels like I'm making sausage. I have Marzano's nine strategies from "Classroom Instruction that Works." I have Marcia Tate's twenty strategies for engaging the brain from "Worksheets Won't Grow Dendrites." I have how to lay out classroom time from "The Brain Compatible Classroom" and when to use certain strategies according to "Key Elements of Classroom Management." There are other sources, too---and everything is going into the sausage maker. I'm cranking away, hoping for some nice links.
Here is what I have so far in terms of laying out the Holy Grail:
What are the content standards or other curriculum requirements? What is their "cognitive demand"?Block #1 (first 10 - 20 minutes of class time):
Where are we? That is, is this the beginning of a unit—or at least "new to the student" material? Or, has the class already been working on some information with this unit?Down Time #1 (2 - 4 minute break for the brain):
What is the big idea that you would like students to hold onto the most? What is the best tool for helping them do this?Block #2 (10 - 20 minutes more of instruction):
What new information (if any) is vital to add at this point? How can you help students make connections to previous learning?Break/Down Time #2 (remainder of class):
Where are the students in terms of their learning—do they need more practice with the information and/or skills or are they ready to begin applying the learning?Assessment
Are we there yet? Do students need feedback at this point or can a simple check of their learning be enough? Do you need to allot Block 1 for remediation tomorrow?The time frames are based on cognitive science: how long the brain can "pay attention." Blocks 1 and 2 could be lecture, guided reading, discussion, and/or demonstrations. "Down Time" refers to a short change to refresh the brain, but it doesn't mean nothing is happening. Here is where you ask students to summarize, create a mnemonic device, do "think-pair-share," journal entry, etc. The second "down time" might include cooperative learning or individual practice if students are in need of reinforcing knowledge or skills. If they're ready to apply and do something with their learning, you could structure the assignment however you like.
My next problem will be devising a 90-minute inquiry into this for staff members who choose to attend my session in a couple of weeks. I want to keep things as simple as possible, in addition to being useful. But it will be a perfect opportunity to try out my new and improved lesson plan. :)
UPDATE: If you reached this post, hoping to find a copy of the Holy Grail of Lesson Plans...and are disappointed, I can e-mail this document to you. Send your request to the_science_goddess[at]yahoo[dot]com