Each year I try to find better ways to organise rhythms of learning that are responsive, but not reactive.
Look at the types of resources universally popular on the best websites and you can see that they are either individual lessons, or blocks of individual lessons. The notion of finding threads of learning is loose at best.
Conversely, I have at times planned every lesson a year in advance. Even with this, though, there was a sense of missed opportunities for connecting learning and revisiting.
Essential to realise is that the revisiting of material does not need to be long in order for it to be useful.
It was with this experience that I stumbled across the excellent blog and book of the English teacher Andy Tharby at www.reflectingenglish.com. In terms of considered, practical writing, he is as good as anything I’ve read, a HuntingEnglish man.
He states the simple fact that we need to revisit material. Each lesson he aims to conduct a starter (language I refuse to use now with students) of six questions. Three are straightforward recalls of knowledge last lesson. The remaining three extend onto last week, last term, and to applying something from last term onto the current work. Students have to answer these questions within ten minutes (including reading time).
In terms of activating knowledge, this has the foundation of worthy integration into every lesson. Moreover, it allows students to recall on a regular basis that which they would be thinking about on a regular basis.
In terms of managing this, I am going to use Wunderlist and my Student Planning PowerPoint to record these questions to:
A) grant kudos to the question enough to allocate it time later (a public performance).
B) save time by placing questions in the PowerPoint on an as needs basis.
C) allocating notifications to questions so that I can place them into the PowerPoint (and my lessons) at the right time of the day (6:50am usually!).
Managing this will be key. I suspect that some students will struggle to begin questions, record them, and begin good habits. I will avoid extrinsic rewards for those who finish quickly and will instead concentrate my efforts on ensuring quality, tangible questions and rapid, worthwhile sharing and feedback.
Linking, also, to my general practice, the question slides have GiF backgrounds for compelling visuals, as well as slowed music (usually a video game soundtrack) as well as a timer. The idea is that they are placed on the board as students enter.
I might aim to record this experience, too, in terms of recording the recording of questions (!).