The key to effective teaching is organisation and good planning Hunt Touzel, 2009; Capel and Whitehead; Child, 1986. Although, it can be argued that the teacher should not be too prescriptive in order to provide spontaneity to the lesson which is also an important aspect (Froebel; Montessori, cited in Beck & Earl, 2003). In order to support this, a clear scheme of work (SOW) should be provided so as a teacher can produce detailed lesson plans. The SOW is a basic overview of a set period of time within a classroom and includes what the students are expected to learn. The lesson plans can then go into detail about how each lesson will run and should include clear objectives, outcomes, differentiation needs and a clear structure (Haynes, 2010). This essay will look at a SOW set for a 10 week Year 8 Food Technology rotation and will take 3 lesson plans covering the beginning, middle and end of the rotation in a secondary context. This will allow critical evaluation of the overall SOW and allow the chance to see which learning theories have been included and if they are effective in covering the National Curriculum aims.
Put briefly, the National Curriculum asks that design and technology pupils combine practical and technological skills with creative thinking to design and make products and systems that meet human needs (www.education.gov.uk).
The SOW has nine different practical lessons to show a variety of different cooking methods. These are able to test the different abilities of the students as some may be better at baking methods whereas others may be better at their cutting skills. This is a good example of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983) and goes into more detail within the lesson plans. Within each lesson, students are given recipe cards which aid linguistic intelligence. This is potentially a downfall in the lesson plans as it only aids one intelligence and could possibly be strengthened by using picture cards for those who fit more into the spatial intelligence category. It also fails to take into account those who are not good at practical skills and work better with theory based work. However, it is said that everyone can reach an adequate level of all of the multiple intelligences with sufficient encouragement and instruction (Armstrong, 2009) so it may be that the teacher needs to think about focusing on other methods in different lessons to ensure a widespread approach of the intelligences and to help build on all of them.
Lesson two and three show routines that have been established from year 7 at the start whereby the students come in and collect the equipment needed before the music ends. This use of behaviourist theory is quite a limited approach as it fails to build upon knowledge (Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2009) of which utensils are needed. This theory is said to be too limited in the sense that it cannot adequately cover the range of learning methods and behavioural activities (Muijs & Reynolds, 2010). It may be that the first few lessons concentrate on a prompt start by providing a list of utensils and then progresses to the students independently choosing their utensils.
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Thorndike (cited in Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2009) suggested that satisfactory responses to situations are likely to strengthen a student’s motivation to complete an activity well whereas discomforting responses will weaken the motivation. Lesson three uses this well to create a points reward for the three quickest people to wash up. This is beneficial as it encourages the students to complete what can be seen as a boring task in the classroom. By giving out points the teacher is reinforcing the good behaviour shown (Skinner, cited in Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2009).
Watson spoke of the law of frequency where the “more frequently a stimulus and a response are associated, the stronger will the habit become” (cited in Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2009 page 26). Lessons two and three show the same routine of collecting equipment, going through learning objectives and outcomes, completing the practical, observing the demonstration and self/peer – assessment. This has been established since year 7 and the lesson plans show that it is something that is inherent to a food technology lesson at this particular school.
In lesson 1 there is a large focus on group activities. This was planned because they were a low ability group and the social transmission theory of learning from others (Piaget 2001) is said to be more effective than being told what to do by the teacher at times. However, this fails to take into account the cultural and social differences that may affect the student’s willingness to participate (Muijs & Reynolds, 2010). This could have been overcome by including a few individual activities so as to cover a wider spectrum of learning behaviours.
Bandura (cited in Taylor & Mackenny, 2008) was concerned about social transmission of behaviour. As this is the first lesson with a new group it could be beneficial to include individual activities so as the teacher can gauge what type of environment works best for the classroom as a whole and for individuals.
Vygotsky’s (1978) main theories of scaffolding and zone of proximal development speak of the gap between what people can do alone and what people can do with the help of someone else. When the students have exhausted each other’s help then the teacher can help with any remaining gaps through scaffolding and asking directed questions. In each lesson plan there are probing questions listed to prompt the teacher where they have an opportunity to either recap previous knowledge gained or to question the current knowledge of the student’s. Bruner (1983) emphasised the need for focused questions and the planning in these lessons shows that this has been taken into deep consideration.
Kolb (1984) speaks of reflective observation where watching others can help with a student’s development. In each of the lesson plans, the teacher performs a demonstration of the practical lesson they will be completing the following week. The students watch this in order to pick up which methods they will be using and they have a visual image of how the product will look so they can imitate this the following week. (Bandura, 1977; Rosenthal & Zimmerman, 1978)
The learning cycle whereby “learning is viewed as a process of reflection upon experience rather than memorization of data” (cited in Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2009 page 94) disagrees with the above and it could be argued that the demonstrations are not as beneficial to the student’s learning than just having a go at the recipes. Due to the nature of the class’ ability, however, memorising the observation was used as a method of learning as some of the students were illiterate and would be unable to understand a recipe card without being shown how to prepare the product.
As discussed in part a, imitation forms a large part of food technology through the use of demonstrations. It is sometimes thought that imitation is a very limited way of learning and that mere imitation is given very small regard within education (Artherton, 2010). However, Blackmore (1999) argues that not only is it an effective form of learning, but that a level of sophistication is needed to be able to imitate. All three lessons have a demonstration of what will be cooked the following week and could be argued to be both an advantage and a disadvantage following the previous points. In these lesson plans, the groups were of lower ability and some were unable to interpret recipes, therefore imitation was key to them successfully producing an outcome in the practical. The SOW refers to differentiation tasks for gifted and talented students and also low ability students. It could be argued that the demonstrations fail to include both abilities as the gifted and talented students may have been able to complete the task without prior demonstration. This may be overcome by involving a gifted and talented student in the demonstration and asking them to present the recipe to their peers as shown in lesson 2.
Questioning is a technique used in all three lessons. Kyriacou (2009) discussed the use of questioning and categorised them as lower order questions (recalling and reporting facts or information) and higher order questions (manipulation of information such as reasoning about, evaluating or applying information). All three lessons use lower order questions that recap and reinforce previous gained knowledge. Lesson two uses higher order questions by asking the students to evaluate their product and their peers’ products and give reasons for their choices.
It is said that teachers will ask over tens of thousands of questions, most of which they will already know the answer to (Kyricou, 2009). There are various reason for questioning (Kerry, 2002; Wragg and Brown, 2001) and they include: To encourage thought; understanding of ideas; Check understanding, knowledge and skills; Review, revise, recall, reinforce a recently learnt point. At all parts of the lesson plans, questions have been prepared to do all of the above and ensure that the students are on task and understand what they are doing.
The humanistic theory discusses the development of the self of the learner (Bergevin 1967). This links directly to the National Curriculum whereby the “pupils develop
confidence in using practical skills.” The human needs of the student are addressed also in that they are learning skills that will help them throughout life, for example, the big picture of the lesson plans used is to understand different methods of cooking in order to cook healthy meals. Maslow (1943) identified a set of needs which motivate all human beings and can be linked to the humanist theory through the need of praise to fulfil self-esteem needs. Sanctions within lesson plans can be discussed here as Maslow talks of extrinsic and intrinsic factors for motivation which affect rewards and consequences of behaviour. In lesson 1, the task involves a prize for the most points to encourage everyone’s involvement, an extrinsic factor. In lesson two and three, the use of chef of the week which does not give any prizes, just job satisfaction, is an intrinsic factor that motivates the student’s to cook to the best of their ability and to work hard.
Edward Burke once said that “good order is the foundation to all things” (cited in Unger, 2011, page 8). An organised lesson plan provides the foundation of a structured lesson and helps promote a calm environment which supports you to give quality instruction (Unger, 2011). Lesson one shows an organised structure of exactly what the teacher wants to see happen in the lesson. Organisation can include planning what should be on tables ready which assists with pupil’s choice of materials (Wood 1988; Capel and Whitehead, 2010; Kern, 2006) such as the equipment stated to be provided.
Lesson plans must ensure clear expectations are set (Bloom, 1956; Kern, 2006) so as the students know themselves what is expected and have something to aim towards (Child, 1986). Without this it is difficult to know what the lesson aims to accomplish (Mishra, 2008). By sharing this at the beginning of each of the lessons, the teacher is able to set the expectations straight away. In lesson one, the objective is enhanced by using quality instruction (Bloom, 1956) when the task is described to set individuals. It is broken down into manageable learning units with specific learning objectives and a sufficient time frame (Bloom, 1956). The pace of the lesson, however, could possibly affect the development of the child due to a teacher driven agenda (Fisher, 2002). It could be argued that lesson plans are too stringent (REF), however, time constraints are always an issue within teaching (Hayes, 2006) and the lesson plan is able to break it down and help the teacher visualise how long a task will actually take (Butt, 2006). SO WHAT?
Organisation – planned what should be on tables ready – assistance with pupil’s choice of materials (Wood??, Capel and Whitehead Kern
Clear expectations are set (Bloom ??, Kern 2006
There must be a clear objective set so as the students know themselves what is expected and have something to aim towards (Child1986). Difficult to know what the lesson aims to accomplish without learning objectives (Mishra, 2008
Scaffolding – focus questions throughout the lesson (Vygotsky)
Quality instruction (Bloom)
Manageable learning units (Bloom)
Specific learning objectives (Bloom)
Sufficient time? (Bloom)
Rewards – operant conditioning- reinforcing good behaviour. Intrinsic/extrinsic factors? Maslow’s hierarchy. Most tasks involve a mix of the two (Kyriacou 2009)
Sanctions – not finishing on time- Pace of the lesson possibly affecting the development of the child due to teacher driven agenda (Fisher 2002) however time constraintsâ€¦
Homework – doesn’t reinforce anything
Worksheet – reinforcement?
Plenary – reinforcing
Very little recap of prior knowledge- new recipe each week, where’s the link?
Homework doesn’t reinforce
Differentiation set but do the dems encourage this?
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