How do courses start for a teacher? We have a syllabus or specification which is often little more than a list of topics. All a medium-term plan should be is a matching of those topics against dates and the curriculum time you have to teach the course, when coursework and exams are, and what overall resources you have to meet them.
The medium-term plan could comprise the ‘menu’ for a course, written in Powerpoint perhaps, it need only have the list of Syllabus Objectives to cover, some dates / lesson-apportioning, assessment tasks if needed and a fundamental layout of the Facts of the Syllabus Objects (the Knowledge), the Concept of the SO (Undertsanding) and the Issue of the SO (Evaluation). What else would it need other than the actual details of weaving them into individual lessons? Each Syllabus Objective in the MTP could have a link to its own individual lesson …
… a template which gives the ‘layout’ of a lesson in the form of key ‘construction’ questions which work from the Title/LO/starter >>> ALL-task >>> the MOST-task >>> SOME-task >>> Plenary. This would supply the whole lesson, constructed from the start to the height develop-able, all on one slide viewable for most of the lesson. If the purpose of the lesson is clear and stimulating from the Title/LO/starter, and the development of the learning is integrated and mapped out before them, theoretically there is no excuse for the pupil not to WANT to progress through it – unless they are pathological. Pupils would work through this lesson as fast as they are motivated and as far as they can. The Title/LO/starter, the ALL-task, the MOST-task, the SOME-task can each have their links to stimulus resources (although I wonder if only the Title/LO/starter would need this if the succeeding questions are clear enough).
So, for the teacher, how do you construct a lesson from scratch?
Why construct it from scratch, why not use the textbook and the questions, why not use the lessons already constructed? Because lessons from textbooks mostly do not, or lessons written before do not necessarily, follow a cognitive development pattern – therefore delivering them can be meandering. Because even if they are cognitively-constructed their breakdown-analysis has been done by someone else and therefore the way to integrate may be awkward to you – the teacher – to take pupils through it.
Is it from scratch? No, actually, you would have the ingredients of the LO (from the syllabus/course…) and any resources already owned. The construction will be purely analytical at this stage. Take the LO and ask ‘what is it?’. Write down the answer – this will be the definition, basic or complicated, according to the level of study. This will also comprise the ‘U’ objective of the lesson. Then take the definition and break it down by asking the question ‘what are the components/parts of the topic?’. Note down the components, this will comprise the ‘K’ objective of the lesson. Then return to the Understanding Objective and ‘open’ it out by testing its definition respectively – improve, what if, solve, devise, revise, expand, rewrite, compose, synthesize, theorise, integrate, project, invent, modify, develop, conclude, critique, judge, weigh, evaluate? Note down the issue(s). This will comprise the ‘E’ part of the lesson.
This leaves you with the elements / raw ingredients: the LO, the concept (U), the knowledge (K), the issue (E). Then you need to plot the way to ‘cook’ the ingredients – put the elements into a provocative, stepped learn.
First you need to provoke the learning: headline the topic, plot their co-ordinates and start the enquiry. You need to take the title as the ‘window’, as the ‘view’ (within the whole of all knowable things in the universe, or even within the syllabus/subject/course being studied) through which is de-fined the Particular that will be concentrated on for this lesson. But we still have a large ‘area’ to navigate through, so we need a Title to tell us what it is we are looking at through this window (… telescope?); the LO is the co-ordinate of the topic. Then we need a starter. Why do we need a starter? Because we need to provoke the impetus to find out, provide the motivation to learn. We need to present a ‘snapshot’ of the topic which shows why it is important (to know about it), a snapshot which shows both the function (K & U) and which opens the conjecture (analysis, evaluation, issues, E) on the topic. There are various ways this could be achieved – show the end result, use juxtaposition, picture & question, demonstration, theatre, role reaction, video clip … These elements/raw ingredients are not so distinct as their listing suggests, they work together to introduce the lesson, they are integrated: the opening shot of the film-with-title, the riff and beat of the song, the setting of the joke. The result of the LO/title/starter is a stimulus to learn: they should leave in the pupil the impetus to want to find out, it should provoke curiosity.
This initial analysis is brief – ‘what is it?’ >>> ‘how can I show it/demonstrate it?’ – and if we know our subject we can ask and answer those questions within a minute.
To recap and then complete:
1: SO (from the syllabus); ask ‘what is it?’, the answer provides the key concept to be understood (U) of the lesson
2: of the concept to be understood (U) ask, ‘what is it called?’ (answer = title, will mostly be the same as the Syllabus Objective), then ‘what does it ‘do’?’ (answer = Learning Objective for the lesson), then show it (U) (= starter). This is the spine of your lesson.
3: ask of U/LO ‘what are the parts (that work together)?’ (answer = the facts of the lesson), then ‘how are the parts related (connected) to work together?’ (answer = the patterns/arrangement of the facts). This comprises the Knowledge base (K), the access point to the lesson for pupils
4: ask of U/LO ‘does it work well?’, ‘can (and should) it work alternatively?’; these questions (not their answers) provide the springboard for the evaluative part of the lesson (E)
So the lesson happens – hopefully well, constructively and different pupils of the class having worked through as far as they can, then …
… and especially if the lesson has studied well, have a good, whole-class exploration of …
… responses to provocative questions and ‘what if’s such that EVERY pupil should be able to contribute because they have just studied it
This is how pupils will experience your constructed lesson: the title and LO will locate them, the starter will pique them, the K task will find and then sort the facts, the U task will require them to explain how the facts work, the E task will get them to test if they work well, the Plenary will allow them to sit back and survey the big picture.
Here is a suggestion of a lesson format that could be used for a constructed lesson
evaluation & knowledge & learning & teaching craft & understanding wormhole: the Telescope