Reading Lesson: TS2, TS4 and TS5

After losing my confidence a little last week I took this lesson as a chance for me to redeem myself – not to my mentor as I believe she has confidence in me, but for myself. I put a lot of time into planning (far too much time, I need to work on this as it takes me too long) and set out a clear way to start my lesson. I printed off my lesson plan and used the timings section as a script – something I hope to not need in the future.

I created a starter activity on a PowerPoint that recapped what they had learnt the previous lesson. I used this time to play a short video that recapped the Battle of Hastings, this helped them remember the previous lesson and made sure they all started off with the same knowledge. I had remembered that they struggled to grasp the technique I was teaching them before so made a very straight forward step by step slideshow to take them through what I was expecting of them. I think taking them through what they had already begun to learn was effective and enabled them to take one step further in this lesson. (Standard 2 – be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these).

I differentiated using different worksheets for the lower ability children. Last week I was concerned that I differentiated too much and made it obvious to the lower ability that they were doing a much ‘easier’ task – to combat this I really challenged them with a harder worksheet.

I made my resources so that both groups had the same success criteria. I did discuss this with my mentor, including my worries on making it too obvious that they are the ‘low ability’ children, she reassured me that it’s better to give them work that suits their needs, rather than push them further than necessary. On the other hand I’m happier with the way I stretched the rest of the class, again, it was slightly too difficult but with assistance from the class teacher who I placed as a TA, they did complete it to a good level.

I created ‘challenge questions’ that I placed in an envelope which made it more exciting for the children that finished their work, they could come and pick a few challenge questions to complete. (Standard 5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively).     

To address my targets, I created a PowerPoint that displayed the learning objective on each slide. I went step by step through the success criteria and modelled an example that would meet the learning objective and all criteria. I involved some children in this activity – I asked children to put their hands up but wish I hadn’t as I meant to remember that my mentor likes a ‘no hands up’ classroom. I agree with her method as it means you can pick random children, not just the confident ones with their hands up. This offers an opportunity to teach the class if someone makes a mistake. However, I did keep repeating the steps to the whole class and ask them to repeat so I knew they were listening and taking it on board. Overall, my PowerPoint made a vast improvement on my lesson and I was really pleased with it. (Standard 4 – plan and teach well-structured lessons).

This experience will impact my practice positively as I move forward. I have developed a little more confidence in my ability to deliver a lesson successfully which was much needed. I’ve realized that at this stage in my learning it’s more helpful for me to have the children on the carpet for the start of the lesson, as I feel less intimidated and nervous. It also lets the children relax a little before class and create that safe environment with mutual respect between us all.

If this arose again I would plan a plenary in the same way I planned the starter. I may consider gathering the children back to the carpet to show specific good examples or play an end video (they really enjoyed this, and I believe the video was useful). I also feel that I challenged the children a little too much – I had confidence in the lesson but need to realise that they aren’t going to make progress at the pace I want them to, they will inevitably struggle as they are learning totally new information, and that’s okay. Lastly, I believe I should plan 45-minute lessons and less as I begin my training, I struggled to fill the hour productively and want the children to trust my lesson planning – I am more proactive with a 45 minute slot.

Focused next steps to impact on your progress or the progress of the children in your care:

  • Plan a plenary and ensure the lesson is ended as positively as it begins
  • Ensure differentiation is appropriate between all levels