As many of us are trying to understand changes to new GCSE and A Level specifications and devise SOW and lessons ready for the new academic year I realise that I am lucky to work in an environment where we send each other lessons without a seconds thought and online facebook pages/ schoology pages/ google drives are resulting in teachers across the UK sharing resources. I always find it astonishing to hear that staff are working in isolation on SOW rather than share the workload.
So why joint plan?
- It will reduce your workload- rather than planning for every single lesson you teach you will not have to do so. It saves everyone reinventing the wheel!
- You get to see ideas you haven’t thought of. One of the best things for me this year was getting my trainees lessons- so many new ideas to try!
- While you might not get ready made lessons each time, the leg work has been done for you, the research, the resource creating, the lesson activity designing etc. You will have to tweak to suit your class/ teaching style, but even so, it saves you starting from scratch. (Please note- this does not work, if teachers just teach exactly what they are given, it might not suit their class, teaching style etc- Teachers MUST tweak what they have been given!)
- Often as staff are sharing lessons, they want to make sure they share great lessons and resources, therefore everyone gets great resources.
- It gets you and your colleagues talking about teaching, discussing what worked, what didn’t, how you could tweak it, refine it, change it!
- If you are a solo member of staff, the joys of twitter, MAT, other local departments, facebook pages, google drives etc, means you can reduce your workload too! (I urge you if you are a one man band really look into joint planning with other schools!
- You don’t have to wait for a HOD to initiate, if there are more of you within a department just organise it amongst yourself!
How I structure lessons
The way I structure the learning within my classroom has evolved over my teaching practice and now incorporates 4 sections as shown below (please scroll down to read how I got to this). Please be aware that I do not always get through the whole sequence in one lesson, sometimes it might be in significantly more lessons. For example, 1-2 lessons presenting new information, maybe by watching a documentary, reading a news article, completing a card sort etc. Then 2 lessons or more applying. Also after each of the first 3 stages, there will be mini reviews taking place to check students understanding and progress.
Now, how does this speed up planning?
The time consuming bit can be thinking up different activities and sequencing that allows students to make progress. Below is a link to a PowerPoint I used with NQT’s on medium term planning, which gives mix and match lesson activities/ strategies for each stage of the above lesson structure- all you need to do is apply the content, whether that’s for Maths, English, Science, History etc (our maths NQT even had the students writing a news article in the apply section!) Hopefully lots of transferable ideas to speed things up!
How I structure lessons- the theory bit!
There are many ways to structure lessons. The traditional structure: starter, main, plenary of my PGCE training served me well to start with. This was then developed through reading Geoff Petty’s “Evidenced- Based Teaching” and the PAR model (shown below) where the “main” was split into two sections: a present information and an apply information stage.
Then, as part of whole school CPD, I was introduced to the TEEP model. However, with this model I was always unsure how stage 4 (construct) and 5 (apply) differed.
An amalgamation of these approaches has lead me to the 4 part system which I have found to be very effective, and pupil voice and learning walks/observations have also supported this.