Selena Woodward
Chief learner, Uni lecturer, Co-founder and mum. Passionate about empowering my students, myself and my colleagues so that we can be the best we can be.

Engaging Now! 7.4

The Four Part Lesson Plan

July 31, 2012 | Focus Areas: | | | | | | | | 0 COMMENTS

Below is a piece I wrote for the pre-service teachers I was working with.  We were exploring effective planning and teaching strategies. Strategies that help students connect to their learning and encourage critical and creative thinking. The strategies I share assisted them to expand their repertoire of teaching strategies in both verbal and non verbal ways to support student understanding, engagement and achievement.

My student teachers submitted examples of the four part lesson plan to me which demonstrated there ability to apply what was taught here in their classroom contexts.

Yesterday I started writing a blog post in response to several thoughts/questions that I’ve heard mumbled around me.  I addressed the first of these ( see below) in some detail and would like to thank all of the practising teachers out there who supported me and our profession with their responses on Twitter, Facebook and the post itself.

  1. Teachers in the field don’t plan lessons so why am I doing a lesson plan

Now, the audience I still have in mind has an assessment due very soon and in it they have been given the “Four Part Lesson Plan” to work with.  Hopefully yesterday’s blog post has done something to help them understand why we’re planning a lesson so let’s move on to the purpose of that particular planning frame and how to use it with an IWB (Ready to put your TPACK hats on?)

  1. I don’t really get what the four part lesson plan is all about
  2. How do I use an IWB in a four part lesson? Am I making a notebook lesson?


The framework you’ve been given to work with comes from the idea of the “Accelerated learning Cycle”. It came from the TEEP (Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Program) There are some excellent ideas there about planning and what makes a good teacher – It’s free to sign up too :) .  One of the 5 underpinning elements of TEEP is the accelerated learning cycle.

Accelerated learning is the term that the TEEP model uses to describe the techniques and strategies that we use to actively engage learners in learning. It is based on research of brain function , student motivation and multiple intelligences and provides a platform for life-long learning by promoting the importance of understanding how we learn as much as what we learn. The key ideas of accelerated learning can be briefly summarised as:

  • Making connections with prior knowledge and experiences
  • Experiencing the content of the curriculum through the senses
  • Supporting students to take risks in their learning
  • Allowing opportunity for exploratory talk
  • Providing students with relevant and
  • useful feedback
  • Offering learning experiences that are both pleasurable and memorable
  • Regular review of learning”
(Taken from on 18/10/2011 )



So how do the dot points above translate into the planning frame you’ve been given?   Here’s another useful diagram I was given when I was teaching with this cycle at Shenley Academy

The Four Part Accelerated Learning Cycle

Descriptions of each stage of ‘The Four Part Accelerated Learning Cycle’

There’s a great little tool here to help fill in ideas whilst you’re brainstorming.

Now, as you know, with the help of my colleagues back at Shenley, I’m currently putting together a list of different types of activity that could fit under each of these headings but in the meantime what could I suggest?


The connection phase is all about helping your students to see the big picture.  What do they already know / have the already experienced and what will they know/ have experienced by the end of the lesson.  It’s also about creating a moment for students to connect with your learning environment.  So, if we’ve just come in from P.E. or recess on a windy day we can all get ourselves into the correct “learning climate”. In TEEP that’s the consideration of:

  • The physical environment
  • The social/emotional environment
  • The intellectual environment
A very detailed article from an outstanding former colleague of mine here.
Don’t forget there’s not too much new learning going on here… Bear that in mind when deciding how much time to spend connecting.  This is the part where you need to know your students.  Select the teaching strategies that will help them connect with their current understanding and where they want to be. This will help improve their opportunity to learn by getting their brain warmed up and connected.  Connecting them to what they already know reduces the cognitive load a little and often gives a boost of  confidence to move forward. It will also increase their engagement as they understand the relevance of today’s planned learning activity.
Some practical ideas:
  • Everything should be ready to go when they get there (visual cues etc all ready to go)
  • Always display the objectives – what about adding a “what we’re going to do” as well?
Connecting with prior learning (teaching activities):
  • Card sort
  • Memory Game (IWB)
  • Brainstorm (timed gather if at the IWB – that clock is soooo important!)
  • Drag and drop (IWB)
  • Answer questions but don’t give feedback (let them do that themselves at the end)
  • Create some success criteria that will help them to measure how well they’ve met the objectives


Now. We’ve got the “big picture”, we’re settled, ready to learn.  Our students are in an environment where they feel safe, supported and ready to go.  So… let’s get started!  In the activation phase we need to help students begin their journey with their new knowledge.   Traditionally this might have been seen as the bit where the Teacher Led (TL) discussion happens, the “explicit teaching”. In this model however, the challenge is to let the students engage with the new ideas themselves.  Can you create a situation in which they explore content until they make conclusions of their own?
You’re going to need to know your students really well.  What are the barriers that will be in their way? How can you help them to remove themselves?
Some Practical Ideas (teaching activities)
  • Create a problem / pose a question and scaffold the task so that they can answer it themselves by exploring
  • Model a technique and ask students to raise questions/ ideas as they go
  • Immerse them in the topic –
    • Give them a head of data and ask them what they think it represents
    • If creative writing – have the sounds of the place they’re writing about playing, let them eat the food that the might be tasting in the description, touch the objects that would be around them etc.
    • Make them passionate about the topic by relating it to real life


The most important thing to understand here is that this is NOT referring to the teacher demonstrating anything.   The people demonstrating here are your students.  This one of the most exciting and important moments.  It’s the moment where the ideas the students have activated in their minds are beginning to form their conclusions.  It’s where they start to share their new knowledge and help each other to improve and develop it – as we head towards that “deeper” learning.
Some Practical ideas
  • Ask them to critique a work sample and pull out what’s going well and what needs to be developed (Assessment for learning – it needn’t be someone from their classes work but it’s nice if it is 🙂  Two stars (positives) and one wish (target) is a nice way of ensuring positivity. Model this first against the success criteria on the IWB
  • Each one teach one: Ask them to explain what they’ve discovered/learned to someone else in the group and see how it’s the same/different to someone else’s ideas. – IWB– You could use a document camera and ask students to explain to the class what they’re doing with their own work on the big screen
  • Group Presentation


So if we’ve already demonstrated what we’ know then what’s this fourth bit about then? This is the part where students reflect on what they’ve learnt.  It’s where we given them more time to look at their new knowledge and evaluate it.  It’s the most important part of the lesson and, because it’s at the end, it’s often the bit that’s rushed… Check your lesson pace to make sure that doesn’t happen.  Students need the opportunity to think about what they’ve learnt otherwise they might not retain the new information.
They need chance to consider: How did they get this knowledge? How well did they do? – you could revisit those success criteria here  or the lesson objectives. It’s the part where they start to make connections to the content and what they might do with it elsewhere; in other subjects or in real life.
Some Practical ideas
  • At the very least use your questioning skills and the lesson objectives to tease out some of this much-needed reflection – perhaps have some pre-prepared questions hidden on the IWB as prompts?
  • Provide them with a A Review Triangle .
  • Ask them to list the three most important things they learnt today
  • Decide what the lesson objectives should be next lesson based on what we need to develop more as a result of today’s learning


Don’t forget that in this class you are planning a lesson for different types of learners, different levels of ability, different learning needs.  When choosing your ideas you need to consider all of this.  Look through the notes you made during the TPACK workshop I did with you, look at how I used the IWB to differentiate, scaffold etc and steal my ideas!

To the audience for which this is intended:

I’ve deliberately placed lots of information and ideas here to help you.  As soon as I can, I’ll share with you a whole set of ideas for each separate phase.  In the meantime I hope this goes someway to helping you to connect and begin to activate your own learning. … Now you need to demonstrate how it’s all done!


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