Give a little wiggle room: the 3 part lesson plan.

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I have been pondering the 3 part lesson and is it always necessary in a D&T subject and whether there is a better way to teach a lesson outside the 3 part structure. I am mainly talking about the making part of a D&T lesson here, when pupils start to make a product. Would a jiggle around of how a lesson is structured create more engaged pupils likely to experience ‘Flow’. Flow is a state in which pupils are fully immersed and engaged in their work. My pondering of flow in relation to a 3 part lesson came about after pupils asked me before half term, ‘Miss can we just get on with our work this week and skip the starter.’ We were in the last few lessons of a modelling project focused on pop-ups and movement. Now, as a teacher I take my pupils wants into account, which was scorned upon by a colleague who was shocked and stated, ‘You put the control of the lesson in the pupils hands.’ I ditched the starter for the lesson and gave the pupils the independence to come in and continue on with their project work as they saw fit. This isn’t putting control of the lesson in the pupils hands, it’s adapting to the needs of the pupils to ensure engagement and progression; plus I wanted to see what would happen. This may seem disorganized to some. Some people may ask how do you know the pupils will make progress? How do you know they are doing things correctly and so forth? This all comes down to micro management of a class, marking and just letting pupils fail to succeed. So, from the lesson I opted to micro manage the class. The pupils already knew their objectives as I had given them detailed feedback the previous week. They came in and read their further feedback and then got on with whatever task they needed to do to progress further with their ideas. Now, there was no starter, so I planned to use questioning as a means of accessing understanding and progression of the pupils. Are there better ways to tackle assessment of pupils learning than always doing a starter? This is where questioning can play a huge role, as through questioning you can identify pupils gaps in understanding on an individual level.

The group that I tried the non 3 part lesson with were my Yr10 group. I mark their work every 2 weeks and when I mark their work I try to make it meaningful, so in their next lesson the pupils know what they need to do to progress more independently. Is it bad to deviate from the formulaic 3 part lesson plan? Realistically, if a starter isn’t done are you a bad teacher who cannot fulfill section 4 of the teaching standards? Occasionally it seems to me that the 3 part lesson is a box to tick for Ofsted and not an actual formula that always allows kids independence in their learning. A starter is meant to consolidate learning, introduce new topics, expand on learning or just get the pupils thinking about the lesson ahead, but what happens when they already know what they need to do in the lesson. Could micro management of a class in a lesson ensure progression through questioning be more suitable to a D&T setting when making. This allows pupils the freedom in their learning experience, which from experience increases engagement meaning that state of flow is more likely to be experienced by pupils.

In my class all pupils are working on various individual ideas for their movement cards i.e.; one pupil is making pop-up warhammer cards and another a princess themed card set. To then stick to a process to teach pupils who are working on completely different projects the same thing in a starter or a plenary not detrimental to their progression, as it may be irrelevant to their idea/concept. When unshackled from the 3 part plan pupils can take control of their learning. Does this not breed a better learner?. Could questioning be replaced as a way to assess learning and these can be peppered throughout the lesson instead of sticking to a formula that could disrupt the flow of pupils who are engrossed and engaged in making their product. Questioning would be more meaningful and you could expand their learning through relevant questioning of their work, for example; one of my pupils made a card which focused on a crown element. When I came round to questioning her I asked her who her target market was and how her aesthetics related to her chosen target market. I was asking her to describe, explain and justify her work. I asked her what her next steps where and whether she could make her idea more sustainable. I asked her a series of questions that uses blooms taxonomy to encourage higher order thinking. Her answers showed an understanding of keywords and how she had applied this in her design to show links and themes. So, when I asked her to show me how her crown idea linked with her butterfly idea she stumbled. As, her ideas where good but her crown idea was not similar in theme to her butterfly idea. Yes, kids like those things, but in design when selling a product that is a set the theme or style needs a clearer link, so the products do not look like two separate products. From this feedback and questioning she modified her idea to a wand idea instead. The wand merged better with the crown idea, as when young girls buy princess outfits they usually come with a wand and a tiara. She used pre-existing knowledge to modify her idea, which means her ideas linked better for her target market. To gauge her understanding I then asked her whether she understood why this was a better idea and her response alone showed a designerly understanding. She said that she’d learnt that themes need to run through a project where you’re producing a set of ideas that will be sold as a pack. This may sound simple to us, but  for  my pupils when they designed their original ideas for a set of cards they designed different ideas with no real links or links there were very weak. I wanted a underlining theme that was evidently to a buyer. She then went away to make sure her themes linked to show a clear link in her aesthetics and ideas for her target market. Is this not more meaningful than making them all do a differentiated starter on making envelopes which I had planned. They did the envelope making the next lesson. That lesson my kids made real progress with their cards, all students were engaged, bar 1 pupil. All pupils made good progress and all got meaningful 1 on 1 feedback. My weakest pupil even managed to progress and when I questioned him on his ideas, as to how it was sustainable it was clear he did not understand the keyterm, so I then got him to do a quick comprehension activity in his book. I went away while he did it and when I came back there was a clear improvement in his understanding. As long as pupils know there objectives for that lesson is it sometimes okay just to have a lesson without the 3 parts? Could the 3 part lesson be jiggled about?

That lesson I was less teacher more facilitator of learning and that lesson I understood better what the term facilitator of learning meant. I facilitated their learning individually that lesson in the direction they wanted to go with their project. Questioning through simple blooms aided progression. Is a 3 part lesson always necessary when making in design? Is there wiggly room?


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