Learning To Teach The Great Lessons

You don’t have to write great lessons.  But you do have to teach them.  The best lessons in the world – if delivered by an untrained hand, are sure to fall well short of their potential.

So let’s say you find the perfect 3-Act lesson from Dan Meyer, or real-world application from Mathalicious.  And you are stoked.  Now what?  Well, filling this out is a start I am implementing this year:


I recommend not leaving any of this to chance.  Your natural teaching skills will have plenty of time to shine during the lesson – but I recommend formally addressing (which to me means write it down) the following important aspects of allowing a great lesson to reach its potential:

1. Focus Question:
What is the main question(s)  the lesson meant to address.  This just focuses you.

2. Reason(s) I Think This Assignment Is Great
Remind yourself why you choose this particular assignment out of the great sea of possibilities.  What makes this lesson so great?  And as a bonus, you should start to see a pattern as to what you value in a lesson.

3.  What I Want Them To Learn
Write the skill, or standard, or whatever it is you want students to take away from this lesson. Again – it is important to formally confront it here so you make sure it happens.

4. How I Am Going To Set It Up
What’s the hook? What’s the scaffold? How is the question going to be formulated?  Give this the time it needs because if you mess this up it’s hard to recover.

5. How I Will Help Students Who Don’t Know Where To Begin
I started prepping myself for this a couple years ago and it pays off big time.  Have your response down so you can give the student the right hint and then move on. Maybe have a visual print out ready to go.

6. These Are The Most Likely Mistakes
List them out and also talk about how you will address them.

7. The Extension Question(s)
We have to have somewhere for the top students to get the question to ensure everyone is challenged. Be specific about what the extension is and how you are going to pose it. Be very careful of anything that sounds or feels like busy work.

On the back of the paper I would reflect on the lesson as a whole.  Here are the two I filled out for my 1st day of classes this year:


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