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Planning ICT lessons

  Terminology
A curriculum or syllabus
This is the ICT knowledge and capabilities that have to be taught and learnt. Examples include the ICT national curriculum and the examination syllabi for GCSE.

A scheme of work or curriculum plan
This will show the progressive development of pupils' knowledge, skills and capability over time. These are set in a time frame such as annual or termly plans. They show in more detail what parts of the IT curriculum are to be taught, when and in what order. Sometimes this might include the level of difficulty such as the national curriculum level. They often focus down to identifying specific tasks which are set in the time frame used. Often, in primary schools they would be called medium or long term plans.

ICT as a subject with its own knowledge, skills and capabilities which need to be taught. ICT is different in that it is not only something which has to be taught as a subject or topic but is also part of the work in other subjects or topics. ICT should be a component of the curriculum and scheme of work for most subjects. However it should still be treated as a discreet subject. What is different is that ICT could be taught and learnt in other subjects as well. Clearly, the use of ICT in other subjects will reinforce learning about ICT.

  Short term or lesson plans
These will be plans for lessons or for weekly or daily plans. They will expand the detail of the medium term plans. They should identify what is being learnt and how gains in pupils learning will be identified. They should also identify more detail of the teaching and class or group management strategies and identify the resources and preparation required.

  The Planning Process
It is possible to start first by creating a scheme of work for ICT which sets out the overview of what will be taught and when it will be taught. Alternately, it is possible to start by developing detailed activities and then fitting them into a framework which links them together over a longer time period. 

Which is sensible depends on circumstances. If you have just taken over as an ICT coordinator in a primary school where teachers are used to using ICT in their work and carry out a number of activities with a significant ICT element it would be sensible to take these and try to fit them together into a coherent framework. You could then look to see if this covered the ICT national curriculum successfully and create further activities to fill the gaps. You would then need to ensure there was good progression and the work built upon previous work so pupils were always challenged and their standards of attainment continued to rise over time. However, if you are creating a scheme of work from the beginning as, for example, you might be in a secondary school, it would be sensible to create an overview of what is to be taught and when. In this way you will start by ensuring you have full coverage of the curriculum and that there is a good progression. Alternately, you might be using a pre-created scheme of work such as that from the QCA which shows what is to be taught and when. Such schemes should ensure full coverage and clear progression. Whatever the circumstances, when you have a clear overview you would then start to plan individual lessons or units of work.

You need to plan specific activities which all pupils will be able to access and which will stretch the more highly attaining pupils. You should also have other activities which some pupils access such as extension activities for those that complete work successfully before others.

ICT coordinators will face a wide range of planning challenges. Some work will only have ICT learning within it and the lesson or activity will be entirely about ICT. Some curriculum planning will have elements of other subjects within it. Here, it is essential to work with the specialist responsible for that area to ensure relevance and accuracy for both subjects. In other cases the ICT will be entirely or almost entirely to support work in another subject. Sensitivity to the needs and approaches adopted in that subject is essential. 

It is very useful if, in this lesson planning, you have sufficient detail for these activities to allow new/other teachers to use them. This ensures that there is detailed consistency from class to class and year to year. In an area like ICT where many teachers have less knowledge than they do in other subjects and where they often lack confidence it is often the detailed lesson planning which ensures they can teach successfully. This is essential would be when colleagues teaching ICT are unsure of the subject themselves. It might occur in a primary school where you are helping colleagues in other classes or in a secondary school where non ICT specialists are asked to teach the subject.

Within the planning thought should be given to how the logistics of teaching these tasks will be managed. For example, whether the teaching will be to small groups or the whole class and the links to learning in other subjects.

As individual lessons or units of work are planned it is important to review (or "audit") coverage of the curriculum to ensure it is complete; for example by identifying which part of the programme of study or syllabus is being covered. It is also useful to identify the national curriculum or other levels available within each task. In this way better progression can be planned by looking at the levels offered as pupils move from task to task. This will for an integral part of the scheme of work (medium term or curriculum plan). 

As the scheme of work develops it is important to review progression over the whole time frame. This is likely to be a team or year. When brought together, such schemes of work will provide a clear picture of IT teaching and learning within the whole key stage. It will provide the information necessary to ensure effective progression from key stage to key stage.

For progression both within and between key stages to be really effective a structure for clearly identifying (or assessing) the level each pupil attains needs to be in place. In some instances, such as at GCSE and increasingly at key stage 3, more formal assessment procedures will provide this information. However, teacher assessment will usually provide equally valid data. This can be built into the planning by identifying what knowledge, skills or capabilities are demonstrated by the pupils as a result of the teaching. Good lesson planning should always contain clear learning objectives which identify what the learners should learn from the lesson. At the end of the lesson or unit of work of which each lesson is a part some record of each pupils progress needs to be kept.

This routine record keeping, for example in a teacher's mark book, can be summarised at the end of the term or year to identify overall progress for each pupil. It may be appropriate to ally this process with a more formal testing regime where, in some activities, a level is recorded on a pupil by pupil basis. This could be generated via or test or through teacher observation. In either case, it is important to ensure that levels are identified for all areas of the curriculum or syllabus. This will ensure that reports of pupils progress are based on work from all these areas. In addition, it will provide the data necessary to report accurately on attainment.

  Features of good lesson or short term planning
Remember, this is for a lesson or "unit" of work. It should be a logical unit with a clear start and end point. Where something completely new is started you need to start a new lesson or short term plan.

It must have…..
  Clear learning objectives - what the learners should learn from the lesson.

It should have…..
  Sufficient details of the activities which will take place within the lesson(s) to ensure the teacher and pupils are always clear what to do and what follows.
  A clear timeline which shows how the lesson(s) will unfold and approximately how long will be spent in each part of the lesson (for example introduction, plenary, practical)
  Appropriate resources identified and available to ensure each learner can work effectively and uninterrupted.
  The national curriculum or other level at which the activity or activities are aimed.
  Clarity about how pupils working at a level above and below this will be provided for.
  Plans to ensure that more highly attaining pupils are challenged.
  Clear understanding (and guidance if the lesson(s) is to be delivered by other teachers) on how effective learning will be identified.

It may have…..
  Identified links to learning in other subjects
  Learning objectives for other subjects
  Identification of any particular setting or grouping which changes what is taught in any way
  An overall title for the lesson
  An identified homework or follow up done away from the classroom

 
 

Useful Links

 
  Planning documents produced by teachers (www.icteachers.co.uk)
Ideas for planning ICT lessons for primary teachers (www.teachingideas.co.uk)
Practical help with planning ICT lessons (www.primaryresources.co.uk)
 
 

Downloadable files  
  An example of a primary ICT lesson planning template
An example of a primary planning template with prompts