Actually I don't WANT to teach a three part lesson thank you...

Most of you who know me will be well aware that I don't subscribe to usual schools of thought. The conventional bores the shit out of me and I have a very short attention span.

The "three part" lesson plan was a structure taught as a planning tool in my PGCE, which I think was introduced by the DfES in 2003.

The idea of a three part, or bookended lesson plan was to structure a lesson according to some common framework, so that pupils would have a consistent learning experience. By structuring a lesson in terms of Starter, Main activity and Plenary, the idea was that teachers would deliver consistently brilliant lessons time after time.

Yes you can already hear the cynicism dripping from me.

Initially the three part lesson plan served as a nice scaffold in which I could plan a meat and two veg lesson, where concepts could be easily introduced, then expanded upon and concluded. A nice tool for a beginner.

After a while, it started to become clear by the way that the schools I worked in would INSIST on three part lessons that they had decided that there was really only one way to teach. Yes "research" shows the three part lesson to be an effective delivery method, but the examplar lessons I saw were all a bit dry for my liking.

Some stores in Sweden have these tills where the staff are not allowed to touch the money, they just feed it into a slot and the change comes out as calculated by the machine.

In my opinion, the experience of teaching a three part lesson is pretty similar to sitting on the till and feeding the money into the machine. The school has decided it can't trust you to use your professional judgement, and has thus denied you access to the alternatives.

I failed my last two observations because I deliberately avoided employing a three part structure in my lessons. Dicing with death? Maybe. Educationally sound. yes they were.

The fatal flaw with the bookended lesson is that it ends. Each lesson is a self-contained unit of knowledge that must be introduced, investigated and closed. The plenary sees to it that the pupils leave the room with closure having ticked all the objectives.

But science isn't like that.

Science is a huge subject that seeks to investigate and explain the world we live in and if you truly understand the topics taught in class then you should be taking your learning outside and applying it to everything you see. The idea of science starting and ending within the confines of the classroom walls is as absurd a notion as trying to say that teaching should only occur in a single pre-defined style.

So I will often start a lesson with a demo of something unusual, say the egg in bottle

(I've removed the video as it has my pupils in it)

then I'll set them a bunch of questions on the particle model and have them running around imitating particles to get the idea.

At the end of the lesson, instead of concluding and saying "well now you know everything there is to know about particles" I do a huge bang like this

(Video removed again - sorry!)

and then say

Next lesson I want you to use the particle model to explain what you have just seen.

...then I watch as they walk off, talking excitedly about the demo and trying to work out what happened.

It's not a three part lesson. It's in the wrong order. The main part is at the end. The explanation bit is in the middle as the main activity.

And the kids learn more.

So I'm sorry if I don't fit in with the lesson structure prescribed. I just happen to think there's a better way to do things.

Think about that for a while...
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