Ofsted don’t require a lesson plan. And there are rare times when a lesson should follow its own path: where what is taught is tailored to engage the students at that moment in time. But without firm context of what a lesson is trying to achieve, there is no ‘spark’ or ‘originality’ in what is being done: only stuff.
Moreso, the context of a lesson isn’t enough to be shared with the teacher; the students should have some contextual knowledge of what they are doing (and why) too. But that shouldn’t meant that:
a) The students should read the teacher’s lesson plan.
b) That the learning objective is enough context.
There are two types of lesson planning. The first is a lesson plan for an observation. The second is the planning for the teacher.
A lesson plan for an observation is one that makes explicit the kind of thinking that took place before the lesson. I have written before about how I think judgments of teachers should see how much they know about what they are doing, and why they are doing. In lieu of this, several myths perpetuate about lesson planning:
a) That great teachers have an ‘outstanding lesson up their sleeve’ that they pull out for Ofsted or observations. That there is one-lesson that fits all is bunk. Some teachers complain that ‘the same lesson achieved an outstanding once, a good twice, and a fail three times’. This isn’t the same lesson each time: it might involve the same content, and the same modelling. But there are choices the teacher is making, regardless of whether they realise, each time they teach the lesson.
Whether an inspector or observer recognises those choices, too, is something else.
b) Outstanding English lessons involve many activities. This has been directed addressed by Ofsted in one of their many (contested) reports over the past two years. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/our-expert-knowledge/english
c) Lesson plans need to emphasise learning styles and Bloom’s Taxonomy. These are two by-products of varied and specific lesson plans. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that learning styles are not an entirely accurate model when teaching to particular students:
In addition, Bloom’s taxonomy does not always relate easy to the process of learning as it might do to producing an exam answer of the highest quality. Giving an opinion about life on the ranch is easy enough. Remembering or finding quotes relating to the perception of the men to life around them is something else (seeing ‘sausage curls’ for example).
Example Lesson Plans for Observations
Some of these lesson plans might imply that teachers do not understand what is required of a lesson – that they need to be guided to the basics of a lesson. For NQTs and teachers without the time (or perhaps inclination) to think about what they are doing, and why they are doing it, a guided plan is essential. For others, seeing some of these plans is a useful refresher.
I have seen daily lesson planning that consists of writing a few notes in a planner. This does not reflect the thinking that has gone into the lesson. However, even note-form lesson planning needs to consider some wider implications. When last observed by Ofsted, writing up my thinking in detail took an inordinate amount of time: my thinking was not shaped by the plan. The plan reflected some of my thinking. Still, I imagine that teachers having to plan ONTO a lesson plan would find the experience unduly arduous.
The plan has basic useful information.
Lesson Details: at the top there needs to be logistical details of class, teacher, date, room.
Class Context: summarises information about class (male/female etc).
Place in sequence: Useful – L/O or title of last lesson (and of this lesson, and of next lesson).
L/O – talks about differentiating the learning objectives by three
Seating Plan – Making seating plan explicit
Entrance: Options for curiosity
Tasks: Summarises taxonomy, and AfL needs
This lesson plan uses the term ‘learning episodes’.
Differentiates by levels
Emphasises ‘stickability’ and ‘keywords’
Talks about tasks being ‘learning episodes’ and focusses on ‘teacher-led vs student-led’.
Summarises good lesson planning
Bizarrely traffic-lights from green (lower-level) to red (higher-level).
Gives content based instruction – have mini-whiteboards on desks most lessons/play music as students enter the room
Focusses moreso on groupings then I do usually
Talks about students being self-starters
Not a lesson plan, but useful nevertheless as an observation form. Tracks the observation according to the teacher standards (which are often derided).