Teaching and Learning Bulletin

Issue 12

This bulletin looks at our version of the famous 5 minute lesson plan, which was first created by @TeacherToolkit. A 5 minute plan is used by many teachers around the country to help them plan great lessons quickly. Our version focuses on the elements that are important to us: putting the learning into a larger context, planning differentiated tasks and monitoring the progress of students. Below are top tips when planning for high-quality learning to take place in your lesson.

The Bigger Picture


  • Before planning any activities, ask yourself: where you are in the topic; how able are students to work independently; what is the key learning question for the lesson; and what are your SOLO outcomes?
  • Using a key learning question alongside SOLO outcomes is important because students become more enquiring when the learning intentions are framed as questions; using SOLO to frame the outcomes makes feedback and feeding forward much easier than traditional All / Most / Some outcomes.




The 'hook'


  • You should aim to have a bank of ‘hooks’ that you use in a cycle; then they will not waste time asking you questions about them and can get on with it straight away.
  • Effective hooks to try out are: odd one out; would you rather?; Taboo; key word Scrabble. ‘Hooks’ which can be done as fun group competitions also create a purposeful atmosphere.


Groupings and tasks

  • The first question you should ask yourself is: what is the point of doing this task in a pair or a group? What benefit will they get out of it that they wouldn’t by doing it on their own?
  • Think carefully about whether to use mixed ability or ability groupings. If a task is about sharing ideas and opinions or requires different skill sets, then mixed ability is most likely the way forward. However, if the task requires learning and applying a new skill, ability groups will be a more suitable option.
  • If all students are to be challenged, then there should be different levels of challenge within tasks. These can be labelled as warm, hot and scorching! Varying task challenge can be done by linking to your SOLO outcomes, by the extra resources available or by the open-endedness of the tasks.

Questions to develop thinking

  • This is a really important aspect of planning. Asking the right kind of questions at the right time in the lesson can help students to think more deeply about the learning. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy and Socratic Questioning to ensure that students get the chance to participate in some higher-order thinking, where appropriate, during the lesson.

Key Words

  • Giving students the power to use academic language cannot be underestimated. Imagine a master historian or a master scientist. If they were discussing the topic, what words would they be using? Three or four key words is enough for one lesson, if they are to learn how to use them properly.

Progress Pitstops

  • What moments can you build into your lesson where students and yourself will get a chance to judge what is being learnt? It’s important to plan for a few pitstops rather than one big plenary at the end; if you leave it all to the end and there’s an issue, there’s no time to tackle it!
  • When deciding on what strategy to use for monitoring progress, make sure it has enough depth to it so you can get an accurate picture students’ learning. Using a feedback wall, student-generated question pitstops, rally robin and ABC (add a new point, build on something that is vague, challenge a point) peer critique are all good strategies.

The takeaway: final review

  • The buzzer is about to go, many ideas have been discussed but what is the key piece of information that students really must have ‘got’ if they are going to move forward with confidence into the next lesson?
  • Strategies you could use for the takeaway are: create a sentence using individual key words collated throughout the lesson; review pyramid split into three (most important idea at the top, two questions in the middle, three key words learnt at the bottom); News at Ten top story headline; 140 character tweet.

Putting it all together...!