Planning Lessons for a Block Schedule

Having an extended period of time to teach a lesson can be an advantage in a problem-based classroom. Students and teachers can savor the questions that are asked. Activities can breathe in a way that they can’t in a shorter period of time. But questions about planning inevitably arise. We find ourselves asking questions like: Do I simply merge two lessons? What stays? What goes? How do we ensure that we engage our students in the right conversations that will prepare them for the next leg of the journey?

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What is right about wrong answers?

When I first started teaching, at the end of each day, I would open my teacher’s guide, grab my pen, and thumb through the stack of completed worksheets. My eyes would dart quickly from the red answers in the teacher’s guide to the corresponding answers on each student’s page. I would dole out my x’s and checks with finality and authority. When I got to the end of a page, I would tally a percentage score and enter it into my electronic grade book. I approached every piece of student work as if it were a summative assessment.

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Learning Goals and Learning Targets

By Jennifer Wilson

One of your students is asked, “What are you learning about today in class?”

How does your student respond?

  1. “Nothing”
  2. “Math”
  3. “The questions on this worksheet”
  4. “Deciding if two figures are congruent”

During class, one of your students asks you, “Is this going to be on the test?”

How do you respond?

  1. Pretend like you didn’t hear the question
  2. With an eye roll
  3. “Everything I say is going to be on the test”
  4. “Let’s see how what we’re doing is connected to today’s learning goals”

We know from years of math education research that establishing and sharing learning goals are important for both teachers and students. Even so, we don’t always agree with when and how they should be shared.

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