Friday, 22 April 2011

What could a good ICT lesson look like?

Some years ago I worked on a project which aimed to dispel the myths around what 'whole class teaching' is about. The aim was to show that it certainly wasn't about 'sage on the stage', sitting in rows, or didactic teaching. There was nothing inherently 'traditional' about the approach. Far from it. Here, drawn from that project, is a what an ICT lesson might look like at Key Stage 3 where interactive whole class teaching has been integrated into the pedagogy. Compare this to a typical ICT lesson, especially the amount of talking and listening.

The lesson

As the pupils enter the classroom they are greeted with either a presentation running on the large screen or a paper based activity already placed on their tables or on a visualiser.

They get themselves into groups and with a brief and clear explanation from the teacher engage in the activity.

The activity could be a general ICT starter or something that relates to the previous lesson and/or serves as a precursor to the lesson introduction.

While the students are engaged in group discussions the register is taken.

The activity lasts for approximately 5 minutes and is followed by a whole class discussion with feedback from all groups. Pupils are expected to listen carefully to each other, to respect each other's opinions and to offer constructive suggestions for alternative ideas.

The teacher then introduces the objectives for the lesson.These are in 'pupil-speak' but relate directly to objectives for the course unit.

Also at this point the pupils' attention is drawn to the new key vocabulary. This is clearly displayed on the wall along with all the vocabulary that relates to the current unit of work.

The teacher also explains quite clearly what the pupils should have learned/achieved by the end of the lesson. This is important as it helps the pupils in their self-assessment.

The next part of the lesson may involve teacher demonstration, teacher modelling, or whole group planning. This will be dependent on the context of the lesson.
  • Teacher demonstration could be related to software skills or techniques.
  •  Teacher modelling could be to show an example of the intended outcome of the activity (for example showing a presentation on the large screen that is fit for the purpose and is relevant to the intended audience).
  • Whole group planning could be putting the activity into a context: consideration of the planning process, the stages pupils need to go through and the intended point they need to reach by the end of the lesson.

During this part of the lesson whole class interactive teaching is paramount. The constant use of carefully planned (focused and timed) questions by the teacher is vital. The teacher should ensure that;
  • the pupils' responses reflect correct use of vocabulary.
  • their responses are clearly phased and relate to the learning intentions for the lesson and are understood by the whole group as this reinforces their learning.

Next the students are given the opportunity to put into practice what has been covered in the previous part of the lesson.

During this phase of the lesson the teacher is involved in observation and questioning (of individuals or groups). This is vital as it gives the teacher the opportunity to assess the pupils.

The students are engaged in dialogue/discussion of their work, developing their skills, knowledge and understanding of the subject and, most importantly, they have the opportunity to develop their ICT capability.

The students are engaged in continual self-assessment. This can be achieved because the learning intentions were made clear at the start of the lesson and pupils were given clear success criteria by which to measure their progress.

During this part of the lesson the teacher uses plenaries where appropriate. Flexibility and the need to adapt to meet the needs of the group are part of the teacher's armoury and ensure successful learning outcomes are achieved.

The last part of the lesson is the main plenary. This is a whole class activity and the teacher should encourage as many pupils as possible to engage in feedback.

The teacher draws out the main learning points from the lesson relating them back to the objectives set at the beginning of the lesson.

Again the teacher should use carefully planned questions and ensure that responses are correctly phrased using target vocabulary and relate to the learning experiences of the pupils.

Opportunities must be given for reflection and to think ahead to the next lesson thereby ensuring progression in the pupils' learning.

Appropriate homework is given.This ensures the students have an opportunity to consolidate what they have achieved/learned during the lesson.

Homework is also an effective way to prepare pupils for the next lesson. 

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