Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Three is the Magic Number

Three is the magic number. Good things come with
three parts.

A good movie has a distinct beginning, middle, and end.
A good (fancy) meal has a beginning (appetizer), middle (main course), and end (dessert).  
A good story has a beginning, middle and end.
Your day has a distinct beginning (wake up, shower, get dressed, etc), middle (go to work, teach adolescents) and an end (brush teeth, put on PJs, etc)

Guess what? A good lesson has a beginning, a middle, and an end, as well.

I know you know  this. But do you practice it regularly?

Our science colleagues call this “10-70-20” and it refers to percentages, not minutes.

10%: It means 10% of your class period should be spent on the Intro (maybe bellwork?) that introduces a lesson, refers to the Learning Target, and maybe makes connection to other learning. This would be roughly 4 minutes in traditional periods, 8 for block. Approximately.

70%: This refers to the 70% of your class period that IS your lesson and main learning activities. This is the bulk of your class period.

20%: This last 20% refers to your wrap-up. How do you close the lesson? How do you informally assess whether your kids “got it”  during the lesson? How do you have your kids reflect on their learning in their scales? How do you help them make those connections? This should take longer than your intro -- twice as long because your kids learned something to talk about!! Maybe 8 traditional period minutes or 16(!) on block! Approximately.

Most of us are familiar with the beginning of a lesson

We all teach the “middle” the lesson like rockstars.

But the end ...  it needs a little work for many of us.

Spend some time this week reflecting on your lesson structure and timing. Time yourself (or have a kid do it for you) to see how many actual minutes you spend on each part. Start working on improving your lesson closure and connecting your lesson closure to your Learning Goals and Targets.  Over the next few weeks, we will talk about some ideas for closing lessons, “cementing” the learning and reflecting on Learning Targets.

How much time do you actually spend? What value do you see in having a three-is-the-magic-number type of lesson? With which part do you need to work on -- the beginning, the middle, or the end? As always, I love to hear from you! Email me at

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