Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Day #3 and 5 Step Lesson Plans

I can hardly believe that we are on Snow Day #3 here in Louisiana!  

I've enjoyed a lazy day of baby snuggles, a recovery day getting over a stomach bug mixed with cold and congestion, and now a day of house cleaning and catching-up on my school work.  Which brings me to my first post since November... 

<deep sigh>

With all of me state leadership responsibilities, having a student teacher, taking my first MOOC and just school work in general, plus being the mother of a (now) toddler (is she really a whole year old already??)  I've gotten really (REALLY) behind.

But on with the WBT program!!!

What's the best way to include critical thinking with EVERY lesson you teach? The 5 Step Lesson Plan!  Once you've incorporated the scoreboard, and you begin practicing with class-yes and teach-okay, it's time to step up the instruction to include more WBT minds-on learning.

The 5 step lesson plan is super simple and as easy as counting to 5!

1. Ask a question
2. Answer the question
3. Expand / Elaborate / Explore / Examples
4. Assessment (QT)
5. Critical Thinking

You might be thinking, assessment before critical thinking?  Really?  That's backwards.  But, trust me, this is one of the most important components and must be followed in this order.  I'll explain in a bit.

1. Ask a question - also known as setting a purpose for the learning.  This is essential for the students to know what they should focus on during the lesson.  

2. Answer the question - stating the objective of the day.  This answers the question we just asked.  So we engaged our students with a question, and then immediately tell them the answer.  This is the critical learning that we want students to know, understand, or be able to do at the end of the lesson.  Be sure to include a gesture, or have the students create one, to solidify the learning and activate those motor neurons!

3. Expand / Elaborate / Explore / Examples - the largest segment of the lesson.  We set up examples and non-examples of the learning, building the level of thinking involved to be more and more complex.  Students work as a whole and with their partners in a constant ebb and flow of whole-class instruction and teach-okay.  Each segment taking only a few seconds to a minute before flowing back again.  Remember, the longer we talk, the more students we lose.  Therefore, keep segments of instruction as short and to the point as possible.  Instruction can be elevated using Brain Toys to add to the learning fun!  At my school, we are required to use Landmark School (from Boston, MA) strategies like 2-column notes.  So, I added the Brain Toy "Jot" to my lesson plans.  Students practice a concept, definition, or example orally and then "jot" it on their notes.

4. Assessment - this MUST come before the critical thinking at the end because this is what directs your lesson!  Formative assessment at its finest!  You give an oral  Quick Test (QT).  You can do Yes-No way for students to answer orally as a class, thumbs-up or thumbs-down for more individual assessment, pinch cards (I just use paint chips from Home Depot, Lowe's, or Sherwin Williams), or wipe-off boards if you have them.  My kids often use a piece of cardstock in a page protector, especially if I am doing a math concept and they need a number line or a clock, or in phonics if they need elkonin boxes to segment sounds or syllable boxes.  Based on this assessment you can decide if your students have mastered the ideas of the lesson or if they need more elaboration.  If they need more elaboration, provide more examples and try the QT again.  If you see that they have a proficient understanding of the lesson, move into the critical thinking.

5. Critical Thinking - requires students to apply the concepts they have learned in a critical thinking context, usually some sort of writing.  This is where triple whammy paragraphs become extremely beneficial!  Students can also draw diagrams, write 2-sentence summaries, or use the Genius Ladder, explain the concept to each other with sockless hand puppets or anti-gravity two-finger action figures, or a WBT favorite - write a letter to the aliens on Zork explaining the concept.  Again, my district is a Landmark Outreach district, and we are required to utilize their strategies.  I typically have my students use their 2-column notes which were constructed during the lesson to teach each other the lesson orally using a WBT Brain Toy and then write a 2 sentence summary of the lesson.  The biggest bang for your learning buck is incorporating several of these strategies together.

Bonus - hang the Power Pix that accompanies the essential vocabulary from the lesson!

A few resources to help you get started:

These Common Core aligned 5 Step Lesson Plan PDFs, visuals included

Farrah Shipley's Video Example

This AWESOME Format from The Reflective Educator

These example lessons from yours truly on Paragraphing and Main Idea

Try it out!  Start with something quick and simple, like grammar, or spelling.  These lessons will completely change the way your kids engage in a lesson and how much they learn!  They will rock your WBT world!!