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8 Ideas for Teaching Outstanding Lessons in the Primary School

We’ve all got different ideas about exactly how to develop and deliver an outstanding lesson.  The ideas we’ve outlined below are relatively straightforward and simple to apply and can act as a checklist when you’re lesson planning.  If you have ideas to add, please leave a comment. 

The Daily Digest(ive) December 1st 2010

1. Be Passionate and Interested

If you’ve lost all passion for the topic that you’re due to teach today then you’re unlikely to be able to engage your class and fill them with enthusiasm.  We all have to teach topics that we’re less than excited by, but sometimes we can take simple steps to reignite our passion.  Perhaps you’re teaching the exact same lesson you’ve taught before and it’s time to introduce a new spin to keep it interesting for both you and your class?  You can adapt existing lesson plans quite simply by:

  • – Approaching a topic from a slightly different angle – can you adapt activities to encourage thinking from a different point of view (e.g. in history mill worker instead of mill owner?)
  • – Keeping existing objectives but finding or developing new activities to achieve these objectives (you’ll be able to find plenty of ideas on these lesson planning sites we recently recommended).
  • – Team teaching with a colleague and combining your existing plans, taking the strongest elements from each.


2. Consider the Needs of Every Learner

Be sure to adapt the lesson to suit the needs and interests of the specific class that you’re working with.  You’ll also want to ensure that every learner is stretched and challenged.  Briefly consider suitable extension activities for your fast workers, and different approaches you might take to ensure that your less able pupils are fully engaged.


3. Give the Lesson Context and Relevance

When we’re planning lessons, it can be tempting to consider each lesson in isolation, but they will often make a lot more sense to pupils if we can help to put them in the context of wider learning, or give them real-world relevance.  Taking time to think about how you can sell the merits of this lesson to your class and why it’s important and interesting to them, can help you increase engagement of those less keen to learn.


4. Have Clear Objectives that Learners Can Make Sense of

When writing your lesson objectives, think about them from the point of view of your class rather than your needs as their teacher.  Use your objectives to give your lesson meaning and relevance and ensure that they are concise, clear and simple to understand.  Ensure too that they are realistic and achievable and that when you discuss them with your class you equip pupils with enough knowledge to understand how to achieve the learning objectives and to recognise when objectives have been achieved.


5. Build in Opportunities for Assessment

When planning your lesson, continuously ask yourself – what are we trying to achieve and how will we know when we’ve achieved it?  You might want to build in mini plenaries or assessment points throughout your lesson to help pupils traffic light their learning and help you to evolve the lesson to meet the needs of pupils and ensure that they are making progress.


6. Get the Class Ready to Learn

The first few minutes of your lesson are a fantastic opportunity to prepare your pupils to learn.  These minutes can often be wasted with an irrelevant or half-hearted starter.  Considering the starter as an important part of your overarching lesson which can get pupils engaged with the topic and ready to learn is a great way to set you up for a successful lesson.


7. Have a Plan B, C and D

Even the best laid plans can fail occasionally.  If things really aren’t going to plan, perhaps because pupils don’t understand or aren’t engaging with the task, or you have technical difficulties, then it can often make most sense to move onto a new task.  Always ensure you have planned more activities for your lesson than you need or have a couple of standard back up tasks you can fall back on if needed.  Whilst most lessons go to plan, it’s far easier to keep your cool when things go wrong if you’ve thought through different eventualities.


8. Finish Strongly

It’s such a shame if you have a focused, engaged lesson which fizzles out at the end.  By ending more strongly you ensure that you are embracing opportunities to consolidate learning as well as revisit any areas that were more difficult for pupils to master.  Careful time planning which allows for a well-planned plenary can be key to ending the lesson on a high – which is also an important element of getting your next lesson off to a good start.


Creative Education provide a number of courses focusing on outstanding lessons. Book your course today:

We hope you found these ideas helpful – we’d love you to share your ideas too.  Please add them as comments to this blog post.

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