Create the Lesson Flow
Consider the activities, discussions, puzzles, and tensions that will make up the lesson from beginning to end.
Using the left column of the Research Lesson Plan (# 9 of the Teaching-Learning Plan), capture the learning flow for your research lesson.
This should include the tasks or activities of the lesson, anticipated student ideas, the puzzles or tensions that will arise through discussion and comparison of student ideas and how students will refine or expand their understanding as they confront these tensions. Allocate an amount of time for each lesson element, from introduction through summary. Specifying time helps makes your team’s thinking about lesson design visible. The following prompts may be helpful in outlining the learning flow:
- What is the “drama” of the lesson? What is the sequence of experiences that will propel students from their initial understanding to the desired understanding?
- How might the student responses you anticipated, including misconceptions, be highlighted or compared to spark student learning?
- What might students notice that moves their thinking forward? What insights or actions would we expect from students who have a breakthrough in their understanding?
While the left column captures the lesson flow, the middle column of the Teaching-Learning Plan captures Teacher Support. For example, you might note key questions the teacher will ask the class, questions that will be posed to students who do not get started, etc..
As you plan the research lesson, group members may be tempted to micromanage each move and comment the lesson instructor will make. Instead, train your focus on the content and how students will interact with it to build the new understandings of the lesson. If a lesson element is likely to affect students’ learning in important ways, then it is legitimate territory for group discussion. Problem wording and content, choice of manipulatives, key teacher questions and design of graphic organizers are all examples of lesson elements that may affect student learning.
Other decisions, such as whether to have students at desks or gathered on the rug, may be best left to the instructor, unless you think they will shape student learning–for example, it may be important for students to be at desks so they can update their thinking in their journals as they listen to classmates present.