- The big picture: How does the session fit into the scheme of work/main topic? What knowledge are learners coming to the session with already? What links have you made/can you make? Describe the lesson in 30 seconds!
- Objectives: The objectives for the current session. The arrow is just a visual reminder that the session is building on what’s gone before. Try to incorporate at least 2 different leveled objectives – perhaps allowing learners to choose their own.
- Engagement: What’s the hook? How will you gain learners’ attention at the start and throughout the session in ways that are exciting and meaningful (without the you having to work too hard!)?
- ‘Stickability’: What will stick in learners’ minds as they leave the session? What key point(s) should they remember and bring back to the next session?
- AfL: How will you assess where your learners are at during the lesson, so as to know how to take them where you want to go? What Assessment for Learning (AfL) strategies are you going to use? What key questions will help you to lure learners into learning? Plan for various AfL strategies to allow learners to see progress. Use a Targeted-Question grid to help frame higher-order questions. Where possible, use the Pose Pause Pounce Bounce AfL strategy to stimulate discussion and incorporate stretch and challenge.
- Keywords/Numeracy: Literacy has never had such a high-profile as it has at the moment. Encourage learners to read aloud. Pick out keywords and extrapolate their meanings. Plan what keywords you want learners to learn. This promotes high levels of literacy which is an Ofsted focus. You should also add numeracy to this section. Every session should involve some mathematical content, where applicable.
- Differentiation/Groupings: Plan what activities you will provide for gifted and talented students (G&T); learners with SEN (Special Educational Needs) and EAL (English as an additional language). How will you embed Equality and Diversity (E&D)? What sort of groupings are needed? What are they doing and when? Is this mapped to a seating plan with current levels of progress?
- Learning activities: What is going to happen in the session from start to finish? Identify as many opportunities for learner-led learning as possible. The four boxes on the template do NOT denote a four-part lesson. Just use as many as required to show what needs to happen.
Session planning is not just a box-filing exercise, and the sections do not have to be completed in the order that they are presented on the template. Every box should have some content, even if only to show that a particular aspect of teaching and learning is ‘N/A’; This indicates that every aspect of teaching, learning and assessment has been considered.
The following video shows how Dulwich College identifies strategies for AfL and differentiation after outlining each learning activity.
Remember that the end of a training session is just as important as the start, so learners should not simply pack up and drift out of the room. This is an opportunity to reinforce ‘stickability’ and set expectations for the next session.
In our ‘Momentum Monday’ session on 14th September 2015, Edyta our Business Administration Training Manager, spoke to us about a resource called The Blob Tree.
Edyta used this resource to introduce associates to the Business Administration pathway during induction.
At the start of a session in which associates were advised about the different teaching, learning and assessment aspects of their pathway, they were asked to colour in which figure they most identified with. When the session was over, they were then asked to perform the same exercise to see if any changes had ocurred. Some of the associates volunteered to share why they had chosen certain figures, together with their expectations and apprehensions about undertaking a programme of study while working full-time, being assessed in the workplace and widening their networks.
The Blob Tree helps people to articulate their feelings. If a learner identifies with a particular figure and then talks about that figure, it doesn’t feel as though they are speaking directly about themselves. This is helpful for those who are self-conscious or who lack confidence. There are no right or wrong answers about the blob figures, and they are completely open to interpretation, not just in terms of mood, but also in terms of gender, culture, race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity etc.
There are many different versions of The Blob Tree to make it more contextual and meaningful to both tutors and learners.
It can also be used over a period of time to develop skills or track progress. As with any resource, the frequency of use and the desired outcomes should be carefully considered to maximise the impact on personal and professional development.
Today marks the first of our training team’s CPD 15-minute forums, known as ‘Momentum Monday’. Every Monday at 9:15, one of our tutors or assessors will share a successful teaching strategy/resource for 5-10 minutes. Then the other members of the training team will discuss ways to implement this in their own subject areas, or share similar approaches which they have also used successfully.
The idea for these forums came from the aptly titled book by Shaun Allison (edited by Jackie Beere):
Perfect Teacher-Led CPD
I thought I would get things underway with a forum about the extent to which our revamped session plan could contribute towards effective teaching and learning.
A comprehensively designed training session evidenced by a completed session plan, does not automatically result in an outstanding experience for the learners.
The session plan is useful for the tutor delivering the session, and also for any potential observer, but it is merely an indicator of what might happen during the session. Anyone who has taught will know that even the most carefully constructed session plan is prone to slippage in terms of timings and/or the proposed content.
A written plan is not an end product in itself, but one of the stages in the overall process of delivering high quality teaching and learning. Also, the relationship between successive training sessions is just as important as each individual session.
Our session plan is particularly helpful in supporting us to deliver appropriate learning outcomes because it requires tutors to consider areas which might otherwise have been overlooked, such as opportunities to promote equality and diversity, employability skills developed during the session and links to career progression.
Common mistakes made when planning training sessions are:
- Plans which centre around tutor activity as opposed to learner activity; and
- Tutors focusing on what learners will be doing rather than what they will be learning.
Our training team is currently gearing up for the start of the next teaching year, so the CPD focus for September 2015 will be various aspects of planning (and ultimately delivering) outstanding training sessions.