Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Five Step Lesson Plan

Another interesting part of WBT is the five step lesson plan. It's built on a very simple idea that I find works well with the lessons and activities that I have developed over the years. I have been teaching for 12 years, 9 of that in my current position in sixth-grade science. Each year I have tweaked and adjusted the units and activities that I use, trying to improve them to have a better impact on my students. I am continuing to improve them now, using both the five step lesson plan and the new generation science standards as a guide.

 In the past, I have tried to tie my lessons to the state learning standards. I know most teachers moan and groan when anyone talks about the standards, but I like to use them as a starting place. Even though the new gen science standards are still in the development phase, I have already been working with them to try and match my lessons up with these new standards. This has given me the opportunity to manipulate my lessons into the five step format at the same time.

The first step of the lesson plan is to ask a question. Turning the new gen standard that correlates with my lesson into a question has been a great jumping off point. Sometimes I need to turn the standard into several questions for multiple lessons, while other times it works well to keep it as one question and use several days to cover that one lesson. I also started to post the questions in the room for students to see, which helps to keep students focused throughout the entire unit. Reviewing these questions, as well as the power pix, is a constant reminder of the scope and sequence of our month long unit.

The second step of the lesson plan is to answer the question.  When planning, this is the step that really requires the most finesse. It's sounds easy, but as the concepts and content get more complex, being able to verbalize a concise answer takes a lot of work. To help with this process, I have been creating power pix to match this step. Actually creating a picture, gesture, and phrase have helped to focus my thoughts in the correct place, and has ultimately helped me to more clearly explain complex information in a simpler way.

The third step of the lesson plan is to expand upon the answer. My focus through this step has been to create several shorter sequences of details. Keeping the WBT mantra the more we talk the less they learn in mind, I don't want to fall into the lecture trap. I know I could go on for days about some topics, but I will lose the majority of my kids as soon as I do. It's in this step that I utilize the teach-ok the most. This technique allows me to break up my explanation into segments interrupted by several occurrences of student interaction. This helps to keep students on task, engaged, and allows for multiple assessments as you listen to their teach-ok discussions.

The fourth step is for a more formal type of assessment. As mentioned above, I asses often during each teach-ok. This step is a more concrete type of assessment. I do many variations of data collection during this step to add variation to this predictable step in the plan. Some examples of activities that I have done to very quickly assess students are thumbs up thumbs down, stand up sit down, and white boards. I also love using SMART response clickers and These are several variations that allow for instant data collection. The "instant" part is the key. You should be able to very quickly collect data so that you know if you have to go back and reteach or if students are ready for step five.

The final, and most important step, is for critical thinking. This step gives students a chance to take what I have just taught them to the next level. Higher order thinking skills, real-life application, and Bloom's taxonomy all come into play during this step.

Manipulating the five step lesson plan to fit my needs has been a task that has made me reflect more fully on my own teaching strategies. It has also allowed me the freedom to change up what I do everyday and give students the variation they crave while still being predictable so  that students always know what is coming next. I am still working on perfecting this lesson plan style, but am really enjoying the process itself.

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