Project Based Learning – Matrixed Lessons

Teaching with this lesson plan integrates latest research on productive classes.

You are prepared for teaching and for dealing with disruptions too. Start with objectives, then plan your activities (learning or assessment), and then detail the resources you need. Take a few minutes to note what students you want to contact; can be good contacts besides the usual disruptive behavior. At the end of the day take a few minutes to reflect on the day, intentionally strengthening your teacher practices.

60 Second Attendance

The first five minutes of class sets the tone for the hour.

Take a 8.5 x 11 plastic page protector. Inside it place a diagram of your seats/tables written on a blank 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. Write the student names on that sheet in pencil to indicate their assigned seating location. The only thing you need now is a fine point dry erase marker. In 60 seconds you can write “A” on students who are absent and “L” on students who are late. Enter it in your online attendance when students are doing group work and putting it there takes about 3 minutes – no side trips to your email account.

Student Rolodex

A list of student names and phone numbers is the crucial element in a teacher’s arsenal.

This handy reference helps combat disruptive students. I contains student name, id number and parent/guardian phone number info. The most effective tool in reducing class chaos is picking up the phone, during class, and calling home to talk with mom, dad, or leave a message pertaining to why Anita is acting up and interrupting the learning for “X number” for students. That will settle the entire class down and show them you mean business for the duration. Plus, it works very well to accentuate the good too. I regularly call home to report good student behavior, in front of the class. The phone is powerful – be sure to maximize it.

New Content: Brain Storm Sessions

Get students engaged – that is my mantra.

To start a new topic or concept I accomplish that mantra by brain storming. I collect information from students on the board while a student writes it on paper for me. This is not a class time burner since it only takes 15 minutes. How?

Make a prompt (question, situation, or challenge) that relates to the content about to be studied. Then put students in groups of two’s or three’s. They get 3 minutes to come up with 2/3 questions or ideas about your prompt. Then take 10 minutes to randomly call on groups to read aloud one of their questions/ideas, which then gets written on the board. Use those student questions/ideas to steer upcoming lessons. At end of the unit, review material given in brain storm session thus validating student thinking and demonstrating their value in driving learning.

Assessments: Two a Day

Students must accept and act from individual responsibility.

Giving two assessments each day in class shows that you mean business. I’ve seen that over time, students who want to learn will get the slackers to tow the line. I don’t always put one or two assessments in the grade book but taking them each day communicates to students I want to see their comprehension. An assessment is not always a quiz or test. It can take many forms: “ticket out the door,” a reflection from a prompt I give, writing a question to give other students on a quiz, graphic organizers, presentations, and so many more. The only assessment that happens every day in my class is bell work. It takes the first 7-8 minutes of class. Students who complete it get a check, which means 5 points a week potential for class participation. Informal assessments are helpful to me and students without adding extra pressure or laborious homework.