John Hayes, Eagle River, WI firstname.lastname@example.org
As a member of the CPM Coaching Cadre I plan lessons with teachers on a daily basis. These are the steps I like to use while planning a lesson; you can use these as well.
Start with the CPM Lesson Plan sheet from the Phase I workshop. Fill out the header information to get in the groove before you really get into some deep thinking.
Suggested step 1: Fill in the Key Concept area, but before you just copy the lesson objective from the Teacher Notes, think about this question: What is the one thing you want your students to know or do by the end of the lesson? This section is your lesson goal, and I think in most cases you may want to limit this to one primary goal. Do not worry if you have secondary goals; they will appear in other areas of the planning sheet.
Suggested step 2: Once you know the goal, plan the most important part of the lesson next, which would be closure. Decide what strategies (STTS) you are going to use to get your students to think about the lesson goal before they leave your room. Most importantly, give your students the time and the tools to reflect and discuss the goal before you start telling them, with a whole class discussion, why it is important.
Suggested step 3: The third thing you might plan is the Lesson Launch. If you know the closure activity, your lesson launch should set the stage to get your students to “wonder” about the closure and goal. This part might be a reflection or STTS that leaves your students with more questions than answers. It also might be used to remind students of things they have already learned. To be honest, I think having your students discuss and think about the closure, when they do not have all the answers, builds tension and makes the math story more exciting for them. Another good idea is to engage them with writing during this step. It can be easier to keep them focused throughout the lesson if they are reflecting and writing as soon as possible. A Think-Ink strategy can also be effective for holding your students more accountable. If you have students that may do more copying of teammates solutions rather than thinking for themselves, try more independent thinking than inking strategies.
Suggested step 4: You will spend a majority of the lesson time circulating and asking Pocket Questions. This is what you are planning for that middle chunk of the lesson that focuses your students’ thinking toward your end goal: writing and anticipating questions. These questions might be questions the teacher asks, but they also might be questions that you want your students to ask. For example, the lesson’s Discussion Questions may find their way into your Pocket Questions. You may also find yourself asking questions about those secondary goals mentioned previously, or you may ask targeted questions about the Standards for Mathematical Practice (“How can you make a viable argument for that solution?”) The planning you do for your questioning should be connected to your lesson goal.
Suggested step 5: The fifth part you may want to think about is your formative assessment. You check for understanding with your Lesson Launch. You check for understanding with your Pocket Questions. You check for understanding with your Closure. All three areas are tied to your lesson goal. Now what action are you or your students going to take when the understanding is not present? This might be a good time to explicitly lay out an STTS that is going to support a particular part of a lesson, but it could also be an action that you, the teacher, are going to take to support individual students or teams. For example, perhaps you require a team to go back to a problem they did yesterday, while you circulate one more lap. Perhaps you do a targeted Pairs Check or Reciprocal Teaching to focus a student’s thinking. Harness all of your teaching experience right here to close that gap between students that might be struggling and those that are not.
Suggested step 6: The last part you may really want to put some deep thought into is how can you use Team Roles to make the math accessible to all students. There might be some obvious solutions like asking your Facilitators and Task Managers to monitor your pacing to keep it reasonable. Consider using your Reporter/Recorders to check on each team member’s justification at specific points in the lesson. Sometimes it is a good idea to put one of the team members in charge of running a quality discussion. “Facilitators, you are in charge of making sure all voices are heard during today’s Teammates Consult.”
If you have thought deeply about the six areas mentioned the rest of the lesson-planning sheet should be easy. Try this technique just once and ask yourself, “Do I feel more excited about teaching this lesson?” I think your answer will be “Absolutely!” because you have reflected on the purpose of each lesson element. If you feel more excited, your students will too.