As one who is generally in favour of ICT integration in education, one of my aims is to ensure that I embed the use of digital technologies into my lessons, rather than tacking them on as an after-thought. I also want to ensure that I am teaching Thinking Skills rather than just the content. I try to do this by making sure that all three, the content, (knowledge, skills, values and attitudes I am teaching), the Thinking Skills and the ICTs are all at the forefront of my mind when planning a lesson.
To do this I use a template. I currently use PowerPoint because that allows me to publish my lesson plan on my Moodle page for students and parents to access, but I have used Word documents in the past as well.. The template lists the learning outcomes I wish to include in my unit of work. I sometimes list these and sometimes just highlight the ones applicable from my curriculum standards document.
I then decide which Thinking Skills I am going to focus on. At my school we use the Habits Of Mind as an over-arching schema, and then use de Bono’s Thinking Hats, CoRT and David Hyerle’s Thinking Maps to teach strategies students can use to achieve these objectives. Having decided what Thinking Skills to focus on, I decide at what level I need to work on, usually building capacity and alertness as to when to use each strategy.
Finally I start designing the tasks and assessments I am going to use. As I do this I reference Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy to make sure I am covering all cognitive levels through my ICT integration. This covers all work done, not just the ones using digital technology. I include my pen and paper stuff as well!
I like to pose a Big Question in each unit of work to give an overall sense of meaning and purpose to the unit. The Big Question is something to hinge all the tasks on, and the main project of the unit often seeks to answer this question. The rest of the PowerPoint is made up of a summary of each lesson’s activities, with links to Thinking Strategy resources or other documents. Students are able to reference this PowerPoint from their Moodle page, and keep track of where they are in the unit, what assignments are due or what thinking skills they need to be using for each task.
What I like about this seamless integration of my planning and what amounts to a schedule of progress for students (and their parents who have access to Moodle), is that it establishes transparency. While the resources and assignments are usually posted on the Moodle page, the Unit Planner brings it all together in a neat package for me, and my students to consult. There is no room for misunderstandings about where we are headed as a class. This is not to say there is no mystery element. The planner does not reveal details, but it does foreground the cognitive education focus of the lessons and ICT integration, and right now that is the most important aspect for me.