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Teacher perspectives: planning across lessons

Teachers provide their insights into medium term planning approaches.
LAURA: So the pieces of advice I would give are to think about the series of lessons and where you want to go, and what they need to be able to do by the end of the topic. And I know it’s hard with schemes of work and curriculum’s and time, but I think it’s important that you don’t move away from something until you show that they’ve got an understanding of what you’ve done. And it’s also important to think about what their understanding is to now. I think sometimes, something really simple that you miss can really have an impact on your lesson.
So it’s getting them to form a series of ideas over a series of lessons to build upon that, not just about what happens in one specific class, then. I think it’s really important to think about what the pupils are actually learning from a task. So it’s easy to give them things that are engaging and enjoyable. But are they coming away from that actually having learned or developed their understanding of something. I think you always need to be asking yourself that question, what are they learning from this? What will they have achieved by the end of the lesson?
FRANKIE: I think, you know, it’s really important to make sure that we’re not ability grouping children all the time. A lot of opportunities for mixed-talk partners is really important as well just to make sure that, especially with children that might not have as much confidence as the others and that they’ve got those chances to do that and to speak up and to share their ideas. And I think doing some little assessment tasks prior to learning just gives you that little bit of an overview of where children are likely to be, and then you can plan accordingly for those children.
Within a scheme of work, you may have allocated a set number of lessons for a topic, but in order to be responsive to your students needs, you are likely to need to be flexible.
To help with this planning and responsiveness, you need to have a clear idea of where you students need to be at the end of the topic, the overall learning intentions and success criteria. For example, you may find that a topic you’ve allocated 6 weeks to, actually only needs 4 weeks for students to meet the learning aims. However, a subsequent topic might take longer than anticipated.
In this video Laura and Frankie share their advice and ideas for planning for learning in the medium term, that is across a topic made up of a series of lessons over an extended period of time.
Laura highlights how you may need to be flexible with the time you have allocated for a unit of learning if you are to ensure that key learning intentions are addressed for all pupils.
Whilst Frankie discusses the importance of establishing pupils’ prior understanding at the start of the topic to then plan accordingly by using this information to adapt the medium term planning sequence.


How do you use medium term plans?
In the discussion below, we’d like you to think about your current approach to medium term planning:
  • Do you stick to a mapped out curriculum?
  • Do you move through the learning intentions of the topic in a flexible manner?
Share what influences your decision and compare to how other teachers are approaching medium term planning for learning.
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Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment

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