Monday, 2 July 2012

Planning for Progress

If I had my way, the perfect planning template would be a blank piece of paper. That way, people could just put down what they found helpful in a way that meant something to them. And if they didn't need to, then they didn't have to. In that world, all the teachers would be amazing and not need a scaffold, or prompts to remind them of someone else's agenda!
The biggest problem is that, in order to include everything we know makes a good lesson, you have to write a book. It simply isn't possible to show everything you can do with a group, so signposting to the observer where you want them to look is essential.
Added to that you have the problem of different subjects, agendas, educational theories and trends, skills, objectives, outcomes, assessment, feedback, taxonomies and so on. Also, people like to plan in the way that suits them, nine times out of ten focusing too much on the 'what', rather than the 'why'.
At school, we had a perfectly serviceable plan based on the Accelerated Learning cycle. This saw us through two Ofsted inspections, but as the goalposts have recently shifted, it needed looking at again. It also suggested that there was only one cycle in every lesson, when we know that one lesson could have several cycles, or one cycle take several lessons to complete, depending upon what you are doing.
So, after feedback from lots of departments and researching how it works in other schools, is is the result:

The key thinking is that starting with the question: What progress do I want students to make? And then planning the activity, AfL and differentiation alongside it, helps you to plan a really good lesson AND demonstrate clearly to an observer WHY you are doing what you are doing. Homework gets the same treatment to ensure it isn't tagged on as an after thought.
With the lesson plan comes a group plan:

On here you can put target levels, actual levels, which groups students belong to (G&T, SEN, FSM, etc.) and make it clear how you are targeting underachievement. I colour code it red and green. It forces me to work those students into the lesson plan if I've highlighted them for an observer! Once completed, the boxes can be dragged to create a seating / group plan very easily, taking all that student's info. along with them.
And finally, the crucial checklist: the ABC of Lesson Planning:

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