Since starting at Michaela in September, I’ve learnt that every second counts. I’m still shocked at the speed of routines, and how they enable us to squeeze every last second of learning in every lesson.
There are lots of things that slow lessons down which Michaela has almost managed to eradicate. For example, chaotic corridors at lesson transition time, settling pupils into the classroom, lengthy periods wasted waiting for silence, and time-draining activities that yield less learning than alternative methods. In science, the added pressure of getting through experiments requiring lots of equipment can further remove the focus away from learning.
To demonstrate exactly what this looks like in practice, here is an outline of a typical Michaela science lesson, broken down minute-by-minute. This would work with any class, but this lesson in particular was with a year 7 set 3 class – their second lesson on a new chemistry unit. The title of the lesson was ‘Evidence for atoms’. Times are approximate.
10:30 Pupils are waiting patiently outside the classroom in silence whilst another class is dismissed.
10:31 Pupils say a hearty “Good morning” as they come in to the class, take their pencil cases out and are then SLANT-ing.
10:32 “Good morning year sevens. Drill questions page 3. Ready…go!” Pupils sit, hand out exercise books and immediately start their drill questions on page 3 (see more on speedy entrances here). Drill questions are one worded answers to recap over the whole unit.
10:34 I say “3,2,1 SLANT” to get their attention. I tell them to get their green pens (for self-checking) ready. “Ready…set…go!” I read out the one-word answers to each drill question and ask for class feedback.
“Hands up if you have question one incorrect?…two incorrect? Etc.” The majority of the class puts their hand up for question 7, so I provide a brief explanation and recap on Aristotle and the four elements.
10:36 “When I say go and not before, recap questions at the back of the book. Ready…go!” Pupils complete five recap questions in silence. Recap questions are sentence answers linked to the previous lesson.
10:39 “3,2,1 SLANT. Green pens ready. Ready…set…hands up! Question 1…” Pupils give full sentences ending with a Michaela full stop (Sir/Miss). I take a hand up from Arnold*: “Aristotle thought that the world was made up of four elements which were air, fire, water and earth, Miss”
“Excellent, that’s right! Make sure you’ve all got that down in green pen.”
10:42 “3,2,1 SLANT. When I say go and not before, tracking line one. Quickest row gets to read first. Ready…go!” Pupils put two hands on their ruler holding a blue pen in one hand. Each pupil reads one line each of the text and annotates their text book accordingly.
10.47 We pause after line 9 for questions. “3,2,1 SLANT! During which period were Alchemists practising?” More than 50% pupils put their hand up. I non-verbally ask for a choral response: “1,2,3….” “Renaissance!” After a few more questions we continue reading about Robert Boyle (and his theory) with frequent pauses for questioning.
10:58 “3,2,1 SLANT! We have comprehension questions to complete. What is the title?”
Tim: “Evidence for atoms”
“That’s great! What must you remember? 1,2,3..” “Capital letters at beginning of sentences!” “Ready…go!” Pupils start their comprehension questions.
11:09 “3,2,1 SLANT. Green pens ready. Ready…set…hands up! Question 1…” Sarah: “The two main aims of Alchemists were to find the elixir of life and to turn cheap metals into gold, Miss” “Great answer, merit for Sarah. Now check your spellings for Alchemists. A-L-C-H-E-M-I-S-T-S” Pupils check by ticking every letter.
11:13 We continue to read about John Dalton, again pupils annotating their textbooks and pausing for questioning.
11:18 Pupils complete second set of comprehension questions.
11:23 “3,2,1 SLANT. Green pens ready. Ready…set…hands up! Question 1…”Pupils give whole class answer in a similar fashion as the first comprehension.
11:27 “Put one book in another (i.e. textbook folded within exercise books) 5…4…3…2…1 SLANT! Books passed down 20…19…3…2…1 SLANT! Behind your chairs 10…9…3…2…1 SLANT!”
11:28 I read out a list of all the merits and demerits I have given during the lesson. In the final few minutes, I ask a few extra choral response questions. “Dalton said that atoms cannot be broken down. Another word we use is…1,2,3,…” “Indivisible!”
11:30 Pupils are dismissed, filing out into the corridor. It’s always lovely to hear a “Thank you, Miss” when they leave.
Another Michaela lesson complete. The simplicity of each lesson and the consistency of routines enables maximum learning to be achieved.
Click here to see a minute by minute history lesson by Mike Taylor.
*names have been changed for anonymity
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