Friday, January 7, 2011

Anatomy of a Lesson

I love to be organized!  In a perfect world, I would always have everything students need for an entire lesson all together.  Two pages, two-sided, stapled, and hole punched.  I am just a little OCD that way.

I keep the copies right by the door. Students know to pick it up when they walk in the room.
I had to slip in a pic of our new school.  Beautiful, no?

Here's what one of those pages looks like, and a breakdown of its parts. 

1.     Unit # and Day # -- This helps students keep everything in the right order in their binders.
2.     Bell Work – I have tried to use Harry Wong’s strategies for starting class.  “I don’t start class, YOU start class”, but my students don’t always jump right in and start without me like I wish that they would.  What has worked best is to play music between classes – when the song ends they are supposed to end their conversations and get started on the bell work.
3.     Notes – Here’s the lecture notes with blanks or whatever type of progression I have planned for that day.  On this day, it is simply a couple of examples for them to follow along as I explain them.
4.     Practice Problems – I try to structure every day so that students have time to practice before they leave the room.  Some days they might do all the practice in class with no homework, but usually there is some in class and some to finish at home.
5.     Answers – These are the answers (in no particular order) to the practice problems on that page.  I do this because I think it is really important for students to be able to self-check and make corrections.  I teach them to work the problem, and then look for the answer and cross it out.  If it isn’t there, they need to find their mistake and fix it.  Steps are required to be shown for credit.  I spend a lot of time teaching them how to use the answers for good and not for evil, but that’s for another day . . . 

6.     More Notes – Whenever possible, I like to break my lessons up into small pieces.  I talk . . . they practice . . . I talk some more . . . more practice.
7.     More Practice.
8.     One Lonely “Application” Problem – When it comes to showing them how this stuff is used in real life, I have much room for improvement.
9.     Review – Most days include some review problems, some more than others.

One of my goals for this year was to incorporate more variety of practice structures and partner-type activities.  But I still try to use this format no matter what.  I want them to have something they can keep as a record of what they learned and/or practiced that day.


  1. I just read your entire blog and I think we should be friends! I am also OCD and would love to have everything pre-copied, stapled, and hole-punched. First, I love your review ideas. Second, what a great idea for a blog post! (I may copy you.) Third, I love that you're putting answers on the sheet and they have to cross them out. I've been trying to do more self-checking ideas but didn't really know how. Now I do. I would love if you could share some more of your basic procedures/rules/processes.

  2. Thanks MissCalcul8! I have been enjoying your blog, too. Sounds like we have a lot in common! There is more of my OCD to come in the future . . . :)

  3. I love the idea to play music in between classes! Does it help to hurry along students who are consistently late?

    I, too, may copy you and write a blog post. I love your OCD ways, and I have a similar format in my class, but I usually create it as a SmartBoard file and then print out the slide handouts. There are some pros and cons to this, but it worked well last year. I tried several different ways of presenting classwork to my kids because I think its so much better for the kids to have a record for much as I would like them to learn to take notes on there own, the guided notes/practice problems are helping them to learn what their notes should look like for the future. Created guided notes & lessons really does require a lot of prep work. Do you have any tips on organization and logistics?