Beginning_Teaching (Sam Curran)

“Great lessons are a product of great planning” (Elliot, 2007) is a quote which

exemplifies just how important planning is in the context of teaching a lesson.

Teachers have to consider a variety of issues when planning a lesson

including: differentiation, inclusion, classroom/behaviour management and

ensuring all students learn successfully. The lesson plan created in this

assignment attempts to address these variables effectively.

Prior to planning the lesson, a construct map of the ideas associated with the

topic (linear equations) was constructed. This allowed me to attempt to make

connections between different strands of the topic and identify a clear

progression of ideas within the lesson. According to Askew (1997) teachers

beliefs are orientated in one of 3 manners: transmission, connectionist and

discovery. Askew (1997) also suggests that teachers with a strong

connectionist orientation embody the best of both transmission and discovery

in terms of their acknowledgement of the role of both the teacher and the

pupil within the lesson. Ultimately, I tried to apply the connectionist theory

within my lesson by linking the concept of function machines to the

construction and solution of linear equations so the pupils could have

something familiar to link the unfamiliar topic of solving equations to. I

attempted to reinforce this further by including a question on function

machines on one of the resources used in the lesson (Solving Equations

Exercise 2) and the homework task (Solving Equations Review).

My lesson objectives are differentiated by what children must, should

and could attain (Bills and Brook 2007). They also differentiate by what

level they correspond to (National Strategies 2008), which might allow the

teacher to formatively assess pupils in both a quantitative and qualitative

manner. Throughout my lesson, I have tried to include many opportunities for

formative assessment including close observation of written work and the

contribution of each individual pupil to groupwork and class discussions. To

further test the pupil’s comprehension of the topic, I have planned to ask each

pupil questions that are directly linked to each learning objective. Mosston

(1966) devised a framework of teaching styles which vary upon the ability of

the learner and the questions are differentiated by this criteria: ranging

from simple teacher-directed “command” (Mosston 1966) questions for lower-

ability learners (“What number does the letter represent in this equation?”) to

more complex “divergent” (Mosston 1966) inquisitions for higher ability

learners (“How could you check your answer?”). An ability to answer these

questions successfully could be a possible gifted and talented indicator. This

style of approach may also be advantageous as it gets the pupils to think

deeply about the methods they are using to answer a question and possibly

gain a more in-depth relational understanding (Skemp 1976) of a topic.

Furthermore keeping the learning objectives visible on the board provides

students with the opportunity to independently assess their own progress

against the learning objectives and possibly become more reflective

learners. According to Dfes (2007) this behaviourist style of teaching may

have a greater impact when lessons allow opportunities for reflection and

review and students assess how well they have acquired new knowledge and

how they could improve their knowledge of that topic. My lesson attempts to

allow this style of teaching to be successful. Brooks (2007) suggests that

formative assessment has to be active; where a pupil does something

different according to the feedback that is given, to be successful. In my

lesson, I try to make sure this occurs frequently as the teacher is constantly

gently probing (and rewarding) any errors or misconceptions that students

may have. Black and Wiliam (1998a as cited in Brooks pg 116) suggest that it

is important that every pupil experiences the benefits of formative

assessment as it helps all pupils but is may be particularly beneficial for low

attaining pupils such as Pupils A and C. I would attempt to ensure this by

circulating the class regularly. For all these reasons formative assessment

may be more preferable than summative assessment in accurately assessing

the children in this class particularly as it is a mixed ability group.

Murdock (1999 as cited in Capel and Gervis pg 120) suggest that there is a

direct correlation between how motivated a pupil is and their academic

success: pupils that are motivated are more likely to work hard, behave in the

classroom and be more successful. Conversely, if a pupil doesn’t feel valued

or motivated they are “unlikely to value school” (Fine 1986,1989 and Finn

1989,1993 as cited in Capel and Gervis 2007 pg 120) and as a result may be

less successful in life. Throughout my lesson I have consistently tried to

extrinsically (Capel and Jervis 2007) motivate the pupils by constantly giving

praise and rewarding pupils for their contribution (whether right or wrong) and

promoting errors and misconceptions. Research suggests that if teachers

have high but obtainable expectations pupils are likely to perform and behave

well (Rodgers 1982 as cited in Capel and Whitehead 2010 pg 116). I have

attempted to make sure of this in the lesson by stating what I expect from my

pupils at the start of the lesson: hard work and good behaviour. As a result of this, pupils self-esteem may increase and they might be more motivated to

meet these expectations.

I have included a seating plan at the start of my lesson partially to try ensure

good behaviour (Pupil C is sat near the front where they can be closely

monitored) but mainly because it has useful applications in inclusion and

ensuring everyone is involved in the lesson. Throughout my lesson there are

a variety of problem- based learning tasks which pupils either complete in

pairs or in a group. Research by Dfes (2007) suggest that this social

constructivist model of teaching allows learners to work collaboratively,

sometimes learning from each other with the teacher providing scaffolded

support to address misconceptions. By pairing higher ability candidates with

less able pupils, the lower ability child’s “zone of proximal development”

(Vygotsky 1962) may increase as they learn off the more gifted pupil. In turn,

the higher ability pupil could reinforce their own knowledge by “teaching” the

lower ability pupil. This theme of co-operative learning is further reinforced by

the “think-pair share” activity (Kagan 1994) which could have similar

advantages. This approach could be especially suitable for a mixed ability

group and may even have social benefits for a student like Pupil B as this

might allow them to interact with their peers more and express themselves

more confidently.

According to TES (2010) there are three types of differentiation: support,

outcome and task. I have attempted to incorporate all 3 types of differentiation

into my lesson in some manner. In terms of support, a teaching assistant has

been deployed to work with Pupil A throughout the lesson. Prior to the lesson,

I would have worked collaboratively with the teaching assistant on the best

methods to support Pupil A’s learning needs and specific requirements. This

attempts to ensure Pupil A is on task and progressing throughout the lesson.

Additionally, the teacher will have regular input into Pupil A’s teaching which

doubles the amount of interaction in the classroom (Gager 2007) Pupil A has

access to. In terms of the rest of class, the teacher differentiates their input

according to the level of ability a pupil has: lower ability pupils may require

more guidance and direction in a teacher directed “command” (Mosston 1966)

style of teaching whereas higher ability learners should be able to work more

independently with the teacher acting as a facilitator in a “divergent” (Mosston

1966) style of teaching. This could be reasonably effective as the teacher

would be free to give help to the pupils that need it most.

I have attempted to differentiate by task by providing Pupil A with an

individual, simplified programme of study which does not involve

the more complex algebra being attempted by the rest of the class. As Pupil A

is only at Level 2 in Maths they may not be able to cope with the mainstream

content. Though the rest of class have the same resources: the questions on

the 2 worksheets are sequenced by difficulty ranging from fairly simple

questions most of the class should be able to complete to more challenging

questions aimed at higher ability pupils. Similarly, the homework has an

extension aimed at more able pupils which they may see as a more of

challenge than the previous questions. This approach should allow learners to

be challenged in a suitable manner but also reinforce what they have learnt in

the lesson successfully.

I have tried to differentiate by outcome by including a variety of different

teaching methods within my lesson. According to Biggs (1999) higher ability

students learn best from a less active passive form of learning whereas lower

ability pupils learn better from a more active form of learning. Whilst the

teacher exposition and worksheet activities may suit the more academic

passive learners, the group and pair activities should appeal to

less academic active learners. Although I have tried to make sure that each

student is catered for adequately, algebra is a more formal strand of

mathematics which mostly requires passive learning. This may not suit the

more active learners in the class. A more active form of learning could be

more easily incorporated in a discovery topic like surface area.

In conclusion I feel I have attempted to consider a large range of issues

including inclusion, differentiation and behaviour to attempt to ensure all

pupils in my lesson learn as much as possible. I feel that I have tried

consider these issues in depth and that doing this has enabled me to start to

meet the standards:

   Q10: have a knowledge and understanding of a range of teaching,
   learning and behaviour management strategies and know how to
   use and adapt them, including how to personalise learning and
   provide opportunities for all learners to reach their potential.     
   Q12: Know a range of approaches to assessment, including the 
   importance of formative assessment.  (TDA 2008)



• Elliott,P. (2007) ‘Planning for learning’, in Brooks,V., Abbott,I. and Bills, L. (eds.) Preparing to teach in Secondary Schools: a student’s guide to professional issues in secondary education. 2nd edn. Dawsonera [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 1 December 2011). pp.60-73. • Bills,L and Brooks,V. (2007) ‘Using differentiation to support learning’, in Brooks,V., Abbott,I. and Bills,L. (eds.) Preparing to teach in Secondary Schools: a student’s guide to professional issues in secondary education. 2nd edn. Dawsonera [Online]. Accessed at (Accessed: 3 December 2011). pp.74-87. • Brooks, V. (2007) ‘Using assessment for formative purposes’, in Brooks,V., Abbott,I. and Bills,L. (eds.) Preparing to teach in Secondary Schools: a student’s guide to professional issues in secondary education. 2nd edn. Dawsonera [Online]. Accessed at http:// (Accessed: 5 December 2011). pp.113-126. • Capel,S. and Gervis,M. (2005) ‘Motivating Pupils’, in Capel,S., Leask,M. and Turner,T. (eds.) Learning to teach in the secondary school: a companion to school experience. 4th edn. Dawsonera [Online] Accessed at (Accessed: 6 December 2011). pp.120-135.


• Capel,S. and Whitehead,M. (2010) Learning to teach physical education in the Secondary School: a companion to school experience. 3rd edn. London:Routledge. • Gager, A. (2007) ‘Adapting resources for children with specific needs’, in Drews,D. and Hansen, A. (eds.) Using resources to support mathematical thinking: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning matters. pp76-95. • Mosston, Muska (1966). Teaching Physical Education: From Command to Discovery. Charles E. Merrill Books, Columbus, Ohio.


• Askew, M., Brown, M., Rhodes, V., Wiliam, D. and Johnson, D. (1997) Effective Teachers of Numeracy in Primary Schools: Teachers' Beliefs, Practices and Pupils' Learning. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference. (September 11-14 1997: University of York) • Skemp, R. (1977) Relational Understanding and Instrumental Understanding. Mathematics Teaching 77: 20-26.

Government publications

• UK: Department for education (2008) Assessing Pupils Progress in Mathematics at Key Stage 3. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 27 November 2011). • UK: Department for education and skills (2007) Pedagogy and Personalisation. [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 5 December 2011). • UK: Training and Development Agency for Schools (2008) Professional standards for Qualified teacher status and Requirements for Initial Teacher Training. London: Training and Development agency for Schools.


• TES Magazine. (2010) TES New Teachers. Available at (Accessed: 4 December 2011) • Kagan,S. (1994) Kagan Online. Available at (Accessed: 5 December 2011)


• Biggs, J. (1999) ‘What the student does: Teaching for enhanced learning’. Higher Education Research and Development, vol 18, (1), pp.57-75 Riselcite [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 6 December 2011) • Ivic, I. (1994) ‘Lev S. Vygotsky’. Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative education, vol 6, (3/4), pp.471-485 UNESCO [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 6 December 2011)


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