5 Minute Lesson Plan

5 min lesson plan cy

5-minute-lesson-plan-cy – Ross Morrison McGill (adapted by Colleen Young)

I really like Ross Morrison McGill’s 5 minute lesson plan and have created my own version as I wanted to tweak it slightly and also have the option to complete the plan electronically. Ross Morrison McGill has explained the various headings on the this page.

My own thoughts and some useful links follow:

The BIG Picture?
I want this to be for the learner not just the context for me or any observer. I give my students syllabus references; with GCSE classes for example I refer to the specification and AQA’s excellent exemplification document which students have access to along with calendars for the year with schemes of learning on our VLE. Similarly for Advanced Level I refer students to MEI’s very clear specification.

I want nice clear language here – this should be all about letting the students know what they are doing and why.

I use this section to plan the beginning of my lesson, this may include a settler on any topic before the first question or activity on the main topic of the day in which case I include both.
We have to get our students interested In what is to come, how do we hook them into the learning?
A little drama can help! ‘Did you know that every integer in the universe can be expressed in terms of prime numbers?’
Maybe an algebra magic trick? Show them why it works later in the lesson.
Bell Work
Starters Ideas

What do I really want them to take away from this lesson? Not just what though, but how will we make it stick and how will I know it’s stuck?! I have written more than once on the need for recall. Highlighting is a Waste of Time!
What are the key points from the lesson that they will need again and again? If they forget most of it what would I really like them to remember tomorrow / next week / even the week after?!
They need a basic toolkit which if they have they can work other things out!
Every student of mine knows the 11th commandment (Thou shalt not divide by zero) for example (a little drama to make it stick).
It stuck with me because that’s how my own Maths teacher put it decades ago!
Thinking of basic toolkits for Year 13 (age 17-18) prompted me to write the mini test on Calculus — Mixed Examples here.

Links to other topics
Students sometimes make suggestions that a topic reminds them of something they have already studied. It strikes me that it would be useful to ask students what topic links they can make as well as noting them myself on the lesson plan. This can be used to link to topics already studied and topics yet to come.

Vocabulary and Notation
I regularly use resources to show definitions and have a link for my students here. The various dictionaries, the glossary for teachers and the document with exam terminology are all excellent resources and it is worth noting all the key terms relevant to the work currently being studied.

NotationFor older students it is essential to include correct notation. For UK A Level students for example, see Appendix A of the Subject Content document.

Assessment for Learning
Intentionally the biggest box on the diagram! What are we learning?  Where are we going with this? How will I know they are learning? How will they know?!

Rich Tasks

Key Questions
Rich Questions   Random Name Pickers

Activities – include Assessment for Learning
Problems and Activities    

Homework Ideas 

This emphasis on thinking about what the students are learning aligns with the extremely worthwhile read: What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research.
Robert Coe, Cesare Aloisi, Steve Higgins and Lee Elliot Major
October 2014. And have a look at these comments from Year 9 on good maths teachers!

Note that if you like the idea of 5 minute planning there is a whole series – thank you Ross! Ross has alo provided a training programme.

Thinking also about observing lessons I have been reading various articles and blogs and came across David Didau’s ‘Where Lesson Observations Go Wrong’. Many of David’s comments really struck a chord with me, particularly his comment ‘no one knows my kids in my classroom like I do‘. That is so true; I think we would all like to think that any observer coming into our lesson has that in mind. If I observe a lesson in any capacity I want the teacher to know that I appreciate how well they know their students. Note David’s updates since writing that post: Ofsted has stopped grading individual lessons and his most recent post on the subject.

I do like David’s suggested questions (reproduced below – thank you David) for observation feedback – questions like this make for a good conversation between the observer and class teacher. If I have planned my lesson properly, thinking about all the aspects mentioned in the five minute plan above then I should easily be able to answer these questions and in fact be glad to be asked them. The questions emphasize quite rightly that this is but one lesson in a sequence of lessons and only a tiny snapshot of my interaction with that class.
  • Where does this lesson fit into your sequence of teaching?
  • What have students had to learn in order to get to this point?
  • What did they already know?
  • How will you develop what students have done so far?
  • How might the next lesson be adapted in light of what happened this lesson?
  • How do you know if students are making progress?
  • Why did you make the decision you made today?
  • Is there anything you might do differently?.

These questions are useful for reflection – have an imaginary conversation with yourself even if you are not being observed. Actually come to think of it – isn’t that best of all – to get really good at observing ourselves?!

And always keep Professor Robert Coe’s poor proxies for learning in mind.
Poor Proxies for Learning