Hey there, y'all! Better late than never! Welcome back for this week's chapter of Teaching with Intention. This book study is hosted by Kindergarten Smorgasbord and this week's leaders are Teaching with Southern Style, Learning with Mrs. Langley, and Jen Hart Design. Today, we're focusing on Lesson Design—Creating lessons based on principles and practices you believe in.
Have you walked into one of those classrooms where everything just magically works? Maybe you have one, maybe you don't. But if you've ever been in one, you may know that those environments don't just happen, they're intentional. Every part of setting up a classroom, from the actual furniture arrangement to the student to student interactions, can and should be planned. This year, I worked hard to make our student to student interactions more…pleasant. It didn't happen overnight. I had to have a plan. I began with the end in mind and took steps to meet that goal. By the end of the semester, our language toward each other was much more…polite…than it was previously. (Manners really should be included in the kindergarten curriculum. Just sayin'.)
Planning lessons happens the same way. Miller outlines the steps she takes to plan a purposeful, student-driven lesson. Just for you, I've created this printable with her questions you can use to outline your lessons. Just click on the picture to download.
I love the questions she asks when designing lessons. We usually plan by standard and break it down into steps. But I like the real-world application and connection questions. In kinder, we don't have the "I'll never use this in the real world" problem. Everything we do connects to the real world. But I can see how these questions could really help guide content in every grade level. It definitely creates a sense of purpose and understanding of the content area.
This lesson design was driven by the gradual release of responsibility instructional model (Pearson and Gallagher 1983). Most of us do this without thinking about it because it is just good practice, but in case you're not familiar with this strategy, here's the low-down.
The teacher begins with modeling, then scaffolding students' understanding as they practice with the class and then on their own. Students practice independently, then apply that skill in real world settings. I do this ALL. DAY. LONG. with everything from math and reading to lining up correctly (lining up was a struggle this year).
The big idea is to begin with the end in mind. What do you want your students to accomplish at the end of the lesson? What skills do you want your students to possess? How can you structure this lesson to keep them engaged and goal-oriented? As a new teacher, I was overwhelmed and followed along with however my teammates did things. Most of it was great, but I didn't OWN it. It wasn't mine, and that caused us problems. Good teaching is owned. It has to fit your teaching style, your students' learning style, and work for y'all. No two classes are the same. You can team plan all you want and it can be incredibly beneficial, but you also have to structure each lesson in a way that works for you and your class. It has to be intentional. Ok, down off my soapbox.
Stop by next Wednesday for chapter 7 of Teaching with Intention, and swing by the other blogs for more ideas and practical applications.