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Planning for learning over time

Chris Harrison explains that medium term planning is crucial to build on emerging ideas and move these towards good understanding.
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CHRIS: Recognising how children build their ideas from simple descriptions to making connections between different ideas provides the backdrop for looking at cycles of assessment. While planning in the short term allows teachers to see whether students know keywords, definitions and can give explanations, a different approach is required for assessment as their understanding grows. Medium term planning is crucial to build on emerging ideas and move these towards good understanding whether we are working with primary school children or older learners. Helping learners reveal their developing understanding and checking on the language, models and connections they are starting to use in explaining ideas will enable teachers to identify both gaps and next steps in learning.
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Some of this will mean revisiting ideas and perhaps testing them out in new contexts while other activities may advance an idea and ask students to recognise the new parts of the idea. Listening carefully to student answers and interactions with one another is useful at this point and also asking learners to give reasons for their answers. So the types of task will change as the teacher moves from short to medium to more long term planning of student understanding.
So far in the course the majority of what we have covered has looked at how we can plan for learning both during and between lessons. This planning goes beyond subject content and is about creating a formative classroom with tasks to elicit student understanding and planning how you will respond to evidence of student learning.
In our final week we look at planning across lessons and topics. In this video Chris discusses the importance of medium term planning, highlighting how it can help us to be flexible over time in order to help our students make links, construct meaning and develop skills.

What might be in a medium term plan?

There are a number of different aspects that a medium term plan may include. Read the different options listed then, in the comments below, indicate which you think is the most important to include when planning across lessons and topics.
  1. Learning intentions increasing in complexity
  2. Planned questions throughout
  3. Group work opportunities
  4. Assessment opportunities throughout
  5. Links to previous learning
  6. Students’ misconceptions or difficult concepts
  7. Links to ‘Big Ideas’ in the subject
  8. Links to everyday contexts
  9. Flexible routes through the learning
  10. A range of suggested tasks

Select and comment

In the comments below, state one of the above list as important for you to include in your medium term planning for learning.
What’s your reasoning?
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Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment

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