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Behind every good lesson....part 1 - MOTS

Behind every good lesson there's a great plan.  Even if the lesson does not come off well the chances are there were good intentions laid out in the plan.  Of course nowadays with so many technological tools at our disposal lesson plans have changed.  Right?  Wrong!  Technology may play a key part in lessons but does this mean that our focus is on the technology when we come to plan lessons.  Do we start with the tool?  Definitely not.

Think Pedagogy First!
At the forefront of my mind when I plan is my goal for the lesson and what I want the students to achieve.  Of course there is also the bigger picture and the long term goal to consider. How I get my students to think and to engage with the lesson content is really important to me.  How can I stretch and challenge them, how can I ensure that I am meeting all their needs?  How can I ensure that my students make progress - after all, that is the whole point of the lesson.  These are the questions that drive my planning.  It's all about pedagogy.  What tool to use does not even come to mind. 

If, for example, the goal is to learn a new topic area requiring new vocabulary I would start by focusing on these new words.  For this I might use my interactive whiteboard (read more here about my thoughts on this tool).  I know that this would be an engaging way to introduce new vocabulary and I could create whiteboard activities that would ensure that students talk and use this new language.  At the end of the lesson I might decide to test my students new-found knowledge.  Now at this point I would definitely consider a technological tool to help me.  Something like Kahoot! would fit the bill perfectly.  Engaging and set up so that you can design your test just as you want it, this tool allows you to test your students knowledge with a variety of quizzes.  The real benefit is being able to get feedback on their progress.  In a lesson where I am revisiting content I might use a Kahoot quiz at the start of the lesson, work on the content during the lesson itself and then replay the Kahoot at the end using the excellent new 'ghost' feature where  students play against each other and their own previous score.  This allows students to understand their own progress and allows me to plan my next steps with the students exact needs in mind. 

To ensure that my students have built a solid vocabulary base on which to build, my planning would clearly provide for drill and skill exercises (MOTS - More of The Same).  I am not adverse to setting lots of these types of activities.  In my mind it is not possible to proceed to HOTs (Higher Order Thinking Skills) until the foundation is there.  As well as traditional matching exercises and active learning activities I would also consider a number of technological tools.

Quizlet is a tool that comes to mind, with exercises such as these which provide students with the opportunity to learn vocabulary or key content whilst playing a variety of games and furnishing students with key information about their progress.  Taskmagic also fits the bill very well.   For the first fourteen years of my teaching career somehow I managed without this tool.  Practice exercises have become much more engaging with the introduction to my lessons of this excellent web-based tool.  How did I manage before?  The beauty of both these tools is that I can set the content and make it totally pertinent to my students' needs.
And so, finally,  on to HOTs.  Putting new found knowledge into practice.  Creating something different with this new content.  There are many tools to consider at this stage of learning and I look forward to sharing my ideas on this in my next post.
In the meantime let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.


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