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Lesson Planning

As you move through your NQT year you will start looking at developing your lesson planning. There are several ways of looking at the structure of a lesson, and the most regularly used planning tool focuses on the pupil outcomes to build the lesson.

This is the "by the end of the lesson" approach. That is, by the end of the lesson all pupils will be able to understand X, most pupils will be able to understand Y, some pupils will be able to understand Z. This is useful for supporting differentiation as it makes you think about what you want pupils to produce.

Another is the "three wise monkeys" idea. Think of a lesson and then plan to deliver it to a class of deaf people, then a class of blind people, and finally a class of mute pupils. This will show you how to teach widely different audiences and allow you to build what you know into teaching mixed ability classes. In a similar vein think of how you would plan your lesson to the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles.

One of the most useful tools for planning and differentiation is Bloom's taxonomy, which essentially links tasks to brain challenge. The most basic level is "describe", then "examine", and finally "evaluate". Set up tasks that allow the less able pupils to describelist, the more able to examineexplain, and the higher performing pupils to evaluate. Combined with the "by the end of the lesson idea", Bloom becomes a powerful planning tool. For example, by the end of the lesson all pupils will be able to describe X, most will be able to examine X, and some will be able to evaluate X.

When you structure your lesson, look at where you place the activities. For example, a noisy class may benefit from individual written tasks early in the lesson to settle them, with group or discussion activities towards the end of the lesson. Use tight timings to focus lesson tasks and give the pupils regular time warnings. Look at ways to challenge your own teaching - plan a lesson where you only allow yourself five minutes to talk. This will stretch you, as you'll need to identify key information to share with pupils without going over your allowance.

More radically, as you get more confident, see what parts of a lesson pupils can deliver, perhaps at first getting small groups to start the lesson for you. Then see if there are opportunities for pupils to plan their own lessons for you - share resources with them and see what they come up with. You can either use their ideas, or get them to give the lesson to their classmates.

In a similar way, try sharing lesson ideas with colleagues from departments diametrically opposed to you. For example, if you teach maths, discuss lesson ideas with PE teachers. This should challenge your assumptions as to what makes a well planned lesson, and moving away from you own comfort zone of teaching is what creative lesson planning is all about.

Roy Watson-Davis is an advanced skills teacher at Blackfen school for girls, in Sidcup, Kent. His books Creative Teaching and Form Tutors Guide are available from

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