Class 2: Thinking About Thinking

key lesson components

I introduced a modified lesson study model.  As I noted:

The goal of this assignment is two-fold. First to offer supportive feedback on your lesson development through a peer review process. Second to offer some “lenses to look through” that help you easily see the essentials of a lesson. It is not a substitute for the School of Education lesson plan format. Think of it as a pre-lesson plan planning guide. This is not some exercise for the benefit of your instructor. This should be a process that works for you. So feel free to modify to meet your particulars. Use a scale that works for you – focus on just a small segment of a larger unit, or look at the entire unit. Don’t like Bloom? Use another schema to discuss the kinds of thinking that your students will need to successfully complete the assignment. Assignment here. (41 KB pdf)

Next I used a presentation and LearningCatalytics questions to lead the students through a series of activities as participant / observers. I wanted them to look at the lesson from the students’ perspective with a focus on the four components of a lesson. I also wanted them to use Bloom’s Taxonomy to see if they could identify what level of thinking they were using. We monitored the extent the decisions about of content, process, product and evaluation were being made by me (the teacher) or by the students.  Slide deck here. (6.4 MB pdf)

When I asked them to summarize what they thought my goal was for the class, one student replied “You wanted to get us to think about thinking by having to think.”

Class 1: Question the Document ~ Design A Teacher


Our class got off to a good start on August 26th. It’s great bunch of students – four undergrads and eight in the MAT program. All of them are just beginning their student teaching this fall term.

As an ice breaker I handed them a copy of my 1971 student teaching evaluation (2 page pdf) Quite a relic – I’m surprised I still have it. I noted that it’s a historic document and asked them to examine it with a critical eye considering a number of questions: Who created it and why? Historic context? Point-of-view? What could we learn from it? What other sources might we need to collaborate? A great discussion followed ranging from how historians look at documents to how pitiful this evaluation was as an feedback tool for the student teacher (me!)

Next I gave them an activity to design a great history teacher. I applied a variation of “Tool 13: Brainstorm, Group, Label” from my Literacy Strategies Tool Kit (free PDF)

  • Asked them to brainstorm all the words or phrases they can associate with “a great history teacher.”
  • Gave them Post-Its and asked them to write one associated word or phrase on each sheet.
  • Put them in groups and asked them to share their Post-its and thinking. Then design an illustration that captured their collective thinking. And be prepared to share that with the class.
  • Working in fours they synthesized their individual brainstorming into a collective vision on large paper, then took turns sharing and responding to questions.

What followed was a lively Q and A session as we explored the attributes they thought went into an exemplary teacher.

Finally, I logged them into their new LearningCatalytics SRS accounts and gave them a series of questions to help me get to know them better. On the tech side I was interested in their devices, digital skills, social media profile, and some of the programs they were comfortable using. From an instructional perspective I asked them to describe their goals for the course.

I learned a lot this first class – foremost that I’m fortunate to have such a thoughtful, well-spoken and clever group of people to work with. From a class design perspective I found out that many the elements I want to include in the course are well-aligned with their learning goals.