My lessons typically have the same format each day:
- A Do Now that both pre-teaches a skill for the day and reviews a previous skill
- A speed drill, typically on integer operations
- Guided Notes
- A “practice and score”, which is a mid-lesson assessment on student mastery thus far
- Differentiated practice based upon the success in the “practice and score”
- An exit ticket
For example, on Monday, September 10th, I taught about integer subtraction. The standard was 7.NS.A.1, and the objective was “Students will be able to subtract integers by using a number line and understanding that subtracting is adding the opposite.” The first week of school students had learned about integer addition and practiced it daily in speed drills. It was natural to introduce them to integer subtraction so that they could practice addition and subtraction during speed drills going forth.
Students are able to follow along in instruction using guided notes:
Student see visually how subtracting integers work, and then make the connection about how subtracting is the inverse operation of addition.
I planned out during this lesson to ask the students repeatedly:
- What is an inverse operation?
- When we add a positive, do we get more positive or less positive on the number line?
- If we want to do the inverse of adding a positive, or subtracting a positive, should we get more positive or less positive on the number line?
- When we add a negative, do we get more negative or less negative on the number line?
- If we want to do the inverse of adding a negative, or subtracting a negative, should we get more negative or less negative on the number line?
- Why do we move left when we subtract a positive? Does that mean we’re getting more negative or positive?
- Why do we move right when subtracting a negative? Does that mean we’re getting more negative or positive?
The point of this lesson was to emphasize that subtraction means doing the inverse of addition. Students see it visually before jumping to the “keep, change, change” shortcut, which is a short way of saying “add the opposite”.
Then we do practice as a class, and then students take a mini assessment called “practice and score”.
Based on how students score themselves in their “practice and score”, they will complete differentiated practice. In this case, the mild practice encouraged students to use the scaffold of the number line and emphasizes the meaning of inverses, while medium and spicy practice had students practice subtraction of integers with the raw numbers:
In both cases, students were still practicing how to subtract integers, but the practice was scaffolded to their level according to the mid-lesson assessment. If students did perfectly, they did “spicy” practice, if students got some but not all questions right, they did “medium” practice, and if students did not get any questions right, they did “mild” practice.
Reflections on Lesson Planning
The format of a review Do Now, a speed drill, notes, a mid-lesson assessment, differentiated practice, and then an exit ticket works well for most lessons. For lessons such as this one, where the objective is fairly straight-forward, there is plenty of time during the lesson to get to all parts of the lesson. However, for more complex lessons, taking an extra day for students to grapple with the material and complete more independent practice is necessary, and I have had to learn to slow down the pace for mastery sometimes. Most importantly, during all of my lessons, there is an extensive amount of questioning and breaks for stop and jots so that students can understand the why behind the math.