Friday, 21 August 2015

Before... The One Hundred Minute Lesson

I was getting changed for football on a Friday after school when a colleague made a throw-away comment about something that was pitched at a Middle Leaders meeting the previous day. It didn't make a big impression on me at first, but my intrigue perked as someone replied and we were told that we'd find out on Monday and that those present had been asked not to divulge anything beforehand.

I waited over the weekend, taught on the Monday and went to a staff meeting where the idea was pitched: "50/100-minute lessons". There was a lot of negativity in the room, but I made a few points that were more constructive than destructive, shying away from my normal response of 'AAARRGH! CHANGE! NOOOOOOO!'

I think that in maths the kids need opportunities for repetition - my starter is always the previous lesson's work to test understanding and give an opportunity for consolidation. Taking my year 8s into account, they had 3 lessons per week last year and this gave a decent number of opportunities to recap. I thought that 50-minute lessons, and having four of them, would be totally worth the change and extra planning time, but that 100-minute lessons, and having only two of them, would limit the number of chances for consolidation. I also think that 50-minute lessons from hour-long ones wouldn't make too much of a difference to lesson structure, but that a change to hour-long lessons would challenge students' attention spans too much and make us totally re-think our lesson structure.

So, the decision was made... Mostly 100-minute lessons with some 50-minutes. Making us totally re-think our lesson structures.

Our curriculum leader and assistant curriculum leader visited Trinity Academy in Halifax and brought something that looks like the following back. I put our own slant on it and came up with:

The idea is that lessons are delivered in the same way so that any changes between sets have a limited effect on the kids who move.

I'll be putting these on my SMART Notebook files:

 'I do!' is the bit where I teach my bit. 'WE do!' is the bit where we'll do as a class, with mini whiteboards, class discussion and questioning. 'we do!' will be where students have the chance to work with those around them and 'You do!' is the bit where students will work independently on a task.

To go along with these, I'm looking at using these icons my .notebook files too:

The equipment icon and gold star will be on the front page of every lesson as a reminder for me to check equipment and to make reference to the school's 'Gold Standard' expectation of presentation. The homework icon will be used to remind me to collect homework and when setting homework to inform students that they'll need their learning journal out.

I've also thrown these together:

These icons will be used when students are set a task to highlight the expected noise levels and anything that exceeds those expectations will be reprimanded.

The whole lesson might look something like this:
0 - 10 minutes - Starter activity. This is likely to be a recap of work from the previous lesson or an appropriately chosen @mathschallenge starter.
10 - 20 minutes - Teacher instruction (I do!). This is where I'll do my bit, imparting wisdom and knowledge whilst students listen diligently.
20 - 30 minutes - Class discussion / Whiteboard work (WE do!). This is the part of the lesson where students will answer a few questions on whiteboards or I'll ask for hands up or direct questions at individual students.
30 - 55 minutes - Paired work (we do!) / Individual work (You do!) in exercise books. During this part of the lesson, students will work with those around them or individually on tasks set on the whiteboard or from a textbook.
55 - 65 minutes - A mini-plenary. An opportunity to share the answers to the tasks they've completed, as well as a chance to recap the key points to the first part of the lesson.
65 - 75 minutes - Teacher instruction (I do!). An opportunity to extend learning or go through a few problems relating to what has been covered in the first part of the lesson.
75 - 90 minutes - Individual work (You do!) in exercise books. A chance for students to show their ability to solve problems or their extended knowledge.
90 - 100 minutes - Plenary. A chance to recap on what we've done today, hand out any homework and 'RAG' their learning using the following:

I intended to write this post in a few weeks, but having shared the forthcoming 100-minute lessons on my blog yesterday, I was given advice from many on Twitter last night, and figured I should add this here. I'll also be posting a 'during' blog after a few weeks and 'after' during October half term to recap my experiences in the first half term of this year.

@emmaemma53: "Important to break up the lesson with lots of short activities", "challenge is to maintain the pace and focus"
@MrGibbsMaths: "Great opportunities to assess throughout - starting points, progression and plenary"
@WorkEdgeChaos: "You'll get to about 80 minutes and then their brains will give up", "just keep it snappy, lots of review, and anticipate brain shutdown"

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