Archive for category Planning and Lesson Design

Demonstrating Progress in Lessons

In this post, I will share a session I ran about demonstrating progress in a lesson.

After looking over the session just now, I can see that it is a little roughly constructed.  The actual techniques in the session are solid or I wouldn’t post this at all, but the mechanics of the session might need some thinking about.

I think that these techniques are important for the following two reasons:

  1. They create a sense of progress for the students and instills in them the idea that they are learning, which is -I think – important for a lesson that flows (and equally important for the students to trust in and respect you as a teacher).
  2. Less importantly, they are useful for showing lesson observers (Ofsted, your Head of Department etc.,) that progress is occurring within your lesson.

The session:

At the beginning of the session, there are some reflective questions about progress within lessons.  After rating their own ability in this regard (see the below image), we watched a video from Teachers TV and discussed all the different ways that the teacher demonstrated progress.

The rating scale was returned to at the end of the session (itself a method – although a rather subjective one – of demonstrating progress).


The session itself contains six different methods for demonstrating progress; I got the participants in the session to teach each other about these using a ‘Marketplace’ strategy, in which they are given one or more of the techniques, discuss these with a partner and then move around the room and teach the other participants about their techniques.  More specific instructions for this are included within the PowerPoint.

This took a little over half an hour, following which the participants opened up their lap-tops and planned some of the techniques into a lesson for the next day / week.  I chose a few of them at random to present on what they’d done.

Please find attached the slides for the session, bearing in mind, as mentioned above, that you will need to do some work on the mechanics (plenaries etc.,).

Learning and progress session

P.s. Lots of these techniques came from Lisa McGlasson, an Outstanding teacher at the Lillian Baylis Technology School.



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Learning Objectives and Backwards Planning

I first ran this session with a group of Teach First trainees who came to my school for their pre-placement school experience.  The session was to act as an introduction to planning lessons for people who probably had never done this before and, as such, was a bit of a whistle-stop tour through lots of lesson planning basics.

I go into much more detail about learning objectives and planning in the ‘Planning and Lesson Design’ series of posts, found elsewhere on the blog, as well as in my ’10 Minute Skill Builder Sessions’ posts.

Below, please find the learning objectives and outcomes slide.  The session should be pretty self-explanatory to run and the instructions are clearly laid out in the slides, so there is no need to go into elaborate detail here.


I will add all the resources required at the end of the post; they are all labelled clearly so that there should be no problem in working out what goes where.  The only thing that is lacking is that the session requires photocopies of some pages from Teach Like A Champion.  As I have said elsewhere, I think that this is the best book for trainee teachers out there, so it is worth getting yourself a copy.  The particular techniques that you need from the book are: ‘Begin from the End’ and ‘Double Plan’.

Assessment opportunities Learning Objectives and backwards planning learning objectives rating sheet Learning objectives success criteria Lesson planning table Plenary

If anything here is unclear, please don’t hesitate to comment and I will explain further.



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Planning Lessons with Pace

I consider a sense of pace to be one of the most vital aspects of successful lessons.  It is also something that it takes trainee teachers a long time to get right: that sense that experienced teachers get about how long an activity should take, how hard they can push students on any particular task and where in lessons students need to slow down is just something that can only be learnt through trial and error.

Planning a pacey lesson is also something that is not all that easy to cover in a CPD session; it is more a matter of continuous reflection on lessons rather than any specific ‘teachable’ skills.  That said,  this post will contain a session covering 5 specific techniques that aim to help teachers instil a sense of pace in lessons.  These techniques then need to be ‘practised’ live in front of a class to get them right.

In order to make this a practical session, and also to ensure that the session was created with in-built uptake time in mind, I asked the trainees to bring with them, either on computer or in the form of printed slides, a lesson that they had planned but not yet taught.  The aim was that after the content of the session had been covered, they spend some time reflecting on and improving their planning in relation the content of the session.

The session:

1) Learning the techniques

In the first part of the session, the participants have to familiarise themselves with 5 techniques.  These are included in the resources attachment at the bottom of the post, and are all taken from the book, ‘Teach Like a Champion’.  This is done through expert groups, where pairs will become expert at one technique then move into different fours as they share their technique with another pair, swapping groups until all techniques are covered.  I include a recording table in the slides with space to make notes about each technique.

2) Reflecting on planning

The participants now move into pairs talking their lesson through with a partner.  Below is a  list of coaching questions that I gave to each participant, based upon the techniques covered earlier in the session, to help generate reflective conversations:

Change the paceHow can you introduce a balance between active and passive activities?Have you got any activities that might take too long? How can you break this up?
Brighten linesHow can you ensure that the beginnings and endings of all activities are clearly demarcated?How can you signal to students that activities are ending, or drawing near to a close?
All handsHow can you increase the number of students involved in the learning?How can you prevent pace being taken out of the lesson from distractions?
Look forwardHow can you build a sense of anticipation about where the lesson is going?Do students know where they are heading? How have you conveyed this?
Work the clockHow are you conveying a sense of urgency through timings?How can you use timings to improve transitions?

Finally, the participants complete an exit card, detailing the changes that they want to make in their lesson planning.

Please find the resources below; I hope the session is useful.

Pace Resources

Pace PowerPoint


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Activitating Students as Teachers

This is not so much a CPD session as a loosely assembled PowerPoint containing a compiled set of techniques and, to be honest, I can’t remember exactly how I ran the session.

Given that there are three techniques, it seems sensible to run some sort of ‘expert groups’ structure, where participants learn about one and then move into groups and teach each other.  I then would give them some time -having asked them to bring their laptops to the session – to include one of the techniques into a lesson for the following days.  As I have said many times before in other posts, when delivering CPD about teaching techniques, tips or strategies it is much more effective to give some planning time in the session to help avoid the CPD Paradox.

The techniques are all different ways to develop students as peer-teachers. I find them particularly useful when I have a lot of content to cover – especially factual content – in the lesson as you can get through it so much more quickly  than covering it in a ‘teacher-led’ style from the front of the room.

1) Quiz Quiz Trade Trade:

In this technique, students are given different pieces of information (being sensible, I would say up to about eight pieces overall).  They should complete a short task (often related to application of the content to some source material) to memorise this and then they move around the room, using a specific script, to share and swap information with other members of the class.

This should then be followed up with a plenary and potentially a re-teaching activity.


2) Marketplace:

This technique involves small groups becoming experts in a defined area.  You should give them a resource and then ask them to transfer this information into poster form, issuing strict rules (ten words maximum is the most important to stop them simply copying) that mean that have to think creatively about the information.  One person says behind to teach while the other group members move around the visit other market stalls before finally moving back to teach the teacher.

I genuinely think that this technique is the best group work structure that I have ever found, and I use it often in my lessons.  David Didau has written on a similar technique (Jigsaw groups) as “the ultimate teaching technique.”

3) Teacher voting:

I came up with this strategy because I felt like some students were not as good at teaching each other as I would wish.  Rather than actually explaining and discussing the material, I was faced with a room full of year 10s who were studiously – and silently – copying down each others’ posters (see marketplace above) before moving on.  This, for me, does not constitute effective peer-teaching.  The solution that I found to this issue involves sharing a ‘success criteria’ for good teaching with them:


modelling using it to teach something to them, and then getting them to practice on each other.  I got students to teach their route to school, making a cup of tea etc.,  Finally, in whatever peer teaching task you are using they have to vote on each teacher they visit, ticking off the criteria.  The tick lists get passed to you, who awards the best teacher prize (a call home?).  The PowerPoint contains a voting sheet to print off.

Pupil as teacher


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Objectives, Outcomes and Progress

In this post, I am linking to content that I have posted elsewhere on the site. The following sessions are all related to lesson planning and design, and cover the following areas:

  1. Writing good learning objectives / the difference between objectives and outcomes
  2. Creating clear, measurable and achievable objectives
  3. Matching outcomes to objectives
  4. Sharing learning objectives to encourage cognition
  5. Tracking and narrating progress throughout lessons

Each session is only designed to be a quick introduction or reminder to the area.  I ran them as part of the English department morning meetings, in which we spent ten focused minutes working on Teaching and Learning.  They could, however, also form part of an intensive day for new starters to teach them the basics or be expanded into larger sessions.

1. The difference between learning objectives and outcomes

This is a very basic session, simply designed to ensure that the difference between objectives and outcomes is clear and that everyone is aware about how objectives should be phrased. This  important distinction is – at least part of – the basis of good lesson planning, so is important to run this early in any programme to ensure that any more advanced planning skills are built on this foundation.

I wanted it to be clear that a learning objective is about what knowledge, understanding or skill a student will gain during the lesson, while an outcome is what you want students to produce to demonstrate their learning.

10 Minute Skill Builders 1 -Objectives and Outcomes

2. Setting clear, measurable and achievable learning objectives

Building on the distinction between objectives and outcomes, I then decided to work on ensuring that objectives were written so that it was clear, both to students and teachers, exactly what was going to be achieved by the end of the lesson.  I think that this is a vital element in good lesson planning: confused objectives often leads to a confused lesson and confused students.

This session includes a short task, in which the group sift through objectives to determine whether they are clear, measurable and achievable.

10 Minute Skill Builders 2 – Clear Measurable Achievable Objectives

3. Matching outcomes to objectives

In this session, I wanted to outline the idea of having a succession of staggered outcomes that progress towards the achievement of the objective, often moving through basic knowledge to more complex skills.  I think this leads to carefully planned lessons and also because it instills a sense of learning and progression within the students themselves.

I shared two different methods of staggering outcomes, the first by grading them according to NC levels / GCSE grades (moving from a low level or grade to a high on throughout the lesson, and based, often, on mark scheme descriptors) and secondly by using SOLO taxonomy outcome verbs to show the development from basic factual learning to relational or abstract learning.

10 Minute Skill Builders 3 – Matching Outcomes to Objectives

4. Sharing the learning objective to encourage cognition

As well as having clear objectives and outcomes, I think that it is important that the students themselves have actually engaged cognitively with the objective, building on the idea that learning is more effective if purposeful.  This session contains a few ways of sharing objectives with students so that they cognitively engage with and internalise them.

Sharing objectives is an area in which teachers can be very creative, so I would ask participants to come up with their own methods, either as part of the session or before the next one.

10 Minute Skill Builders 4 – Sharing Objectives to Encourage Cognition

5. Tracking and Narrating Progress

Moving on from looking specifically at objectives and outcomes, I wanted to make this session about different techniques for helping students to see their own progress throughout the lesson, not to mention to make this visible to teachers themselves.

There a seven different techniques within the powerpoint, and I asked members of the department to take one each and present on these to the rest of the group.  I also asked them to bring their own versions or come up with new ones to bring to the following meeting.

10 Minute Skill Builders 5 – Tracking and Narrating Progress

Elsewhere in the Planning and Lesson Design section of the blog there will be many more detailed sessions about some of these issues, so have a look!


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Tracking and Narrating Progress Throughout a Lesson

This post contains a session that I ran with my first year Teach First participants on how to track and narrate progress as well as how to get students to reflect on this. This is an important part of effective teaching, although obviously there is a balance to be struck: lots of discussion of progress without any real learning isn’t right.  Likewise, a lesson where the students feel lost because they don’t understand the direction of the learning is also not desirable (not to mention leading to behaviour problems).  New teachers often tend to linger at the latter end of the scale: they don’t spend enough time sharing the direction of the lesson with the students, as a result of which the students themselves feel, quite justifiably, frustrated.  This session was designed to help in this area, however it is important to tell participants that this is highly personal and open to interpretation; what works in one classroom will need to be adapted in another.  What matters is getting the trainees trying these out for themselves as early as possible.

The learning objective and outcomes for the session are as follows:


And the structure:

1) Starter:

I gave the group an impossible to solve task, asking them to sort meaningless symbols into equally meaningless categories:


After asking them what they learnt from this, the answer of course which was “nothing”, I introduced the learning objective and asked the same question,  eliciting the response that you need to understand the learning objective to be able to properly understand the learning itself.

2) Ways of sharing objectives:

I then gave pairs different ways that I had found to share learning objectives (many, but not all, of which are purloined from David Didau).  They had to discuss their method, answering some questions to reflect on how it might work for them, and then present this back to the rest of the group.  All the methods are in the PowerPoint, attached below.

3) Using the SOLO taxonomy

I won’t say much about the taxonomy itself here, apart from to say that I think it is a fantastic way of helping students to really understand and take control of the learning process.  Some excellent online resources related to the taxonomy here, here, here, and here.

In this part of the session, I introduced the taxonomy to the trainees in exactly the same way that I use when sharing it with my students for the first time.  I took this method from a Guardian article about the taxonomy, and left it as it is.  I then shared my own method for using the taxonomy to share, reflect on and discuss progress:


which is where I ask students to reflect,usually at the beginning, middle and end of the lesson, about where on the taxonomy they would place themselves, giving evidence for their decision. For example: I think that I am currently at the relational level, because I can define four kinds of imagery and relate this to how C.S. Lewis creates imagery in the book.

4) Utilising the learning

Finally, I asked students to come up with an objective that they were planning to teach in the next few days and create: 1) an interesting way of sharing that objective, 2) a way of including ideas from the SOLO taxonomy within the lesson.  This is the most important part of the session as it ensures that the ideas included will turn up in real life teaching, rather than remaining in the abstract (see The CPD Paradox).

The session itself, containing all the required resources, is here:

Sharing LOs – Tracking and Narrating Progress


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