Planning to Fail?

After weeks of learning about theory, creative ideas and subject knowledge we can avoid it no longer…it’s time for lesson planning. As daunting as this seemed, I was looking forward to hopefully coming away feeling like this was something I could do. Lesson planning is such a large part of teaching (and a very important part) that I wanted to feel as though I could tackle it (maybe). After this week I certainly have an all new respect for teachers. I don’t think non-teachers fully understand what goes into planning, especially for a trainee when you need to plan much more thoroughly.

We were all given the book ‘Something Else’ by Kathryn Cave, and asked in pairs to plan a PHSE lesson for the age group of our choice. Freedom is a wonderful thing, but when you are a nervous, inexperienced PGCE student it’s terrifying. Although this seemed like a simple book at first, there are actually so many different angles you could use for a lesson. We had to ensure we didn’t over complicate our plan by trying to include more then one key idea.

After much deliberation we decided to plan an upper KS2 lesson, focussing on cultural diversity. This would be the first in a series of lessons and we would start by looking at the differences in what we eat, compared to another country. The two main characters in the book look very different and eat different lunches, so we thought this would be a nice link. In our minds it just made sense that the book would be read at the start of the lesson, providing a platform for discussion around the topic and leading into the activities. It wasn’t until our tutor questioned whether having the book at the beginning of the lesson actually brought anything to it that we realised it really didn’t.

We rearranged our plan so that the book could be read at the end, allowing the class to come together and use their knowledge learnt to question what the animals may have been eating for lunch, because of their differences in appearance. Instead we started with a hook to grab the children’s attention. We would begin with 3 brown paper bags (just like the lunch bags in the story) and ask the children to guess what’s inside, before revealing 3 different food items. They children would use their senses to inspect the new foods, before we revealed that these were all breakfast food. Hopefully (allergies permitting) they could even taste the foods to help them compare the experience to their own breakfast.

We decided the bulk of our lesson would then be the children researching the typical meals of a country in pairs. Depending on the class we could keep this quite structured by giving them a country, or we could allow them to choose their own. This research could then be used to create work in the next lesson (i.e a poster comparing the differences between our food and the food in France).

This lesson plan is still a long way off being ‘done’, if there is such a thing at this stage. My partner and I will be coming together to look at where we can add in assessment throughout, and think about how we will handle the transition times during the lesson (moving from one activity to another). However for a first go we felt pretty proud. It certainly isn’t the best, but it links with the book and all ties in together fairly logically. Definitely a mini success.

Considering this took us the best part of a day, lesson planning is still a very daunting prospect. I’m trying to believe the tutors when they tell us that it will get easier, but right now that feels like a long way off. I think our uncertainty means we over question everything, resulting in it taking twice as long.

Next week we’re all back in school for a week looking at phonics learning!



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