Why I love the 5 minute plan…

Ok I admit it… I’m a perfectionist… I can either plan the lesson in micro detail or walk in and do it off my head. While this may seem like a good idea I will tell you it is not because either the lessons go badly or they go brilliantly; there is no middle ground.

One of the problems for me is as a dyslexic – I have a poor memory (yes – as bad as a goldfish!) so while I may have a brilliant plan in my head when I come to put it on paper – it ends up being a micro detailed master plan that becomes inflexible to respond to my pupils needs for fear of forgetting anything. Equally walking in without a plan is never, ever a good idea. Only with experience have I ever been able to pull it off and to do it well happens equally rarely.(see previous blog posts for how I’ve sometimes managed it!)

So why do I love the five minute plan from @TeacherToolkit -(download from here and if you want to see examples check out his excellent blog here ) well quite simply because it prevents both my planning problems. It prevents my complete over planning to the nth degree that not only is time consuming but quite frankly, a waste of my precious time. It also prevents the ‘what am i doing?’ of not planning (rare). But the most important thing it is the plan that enables me to overcome my dyslexic memory issues in a classroom.

I can fill the plan with the most important details of the lesson – for example my learning objectives and outcomes (using solo taxonomy of course), differentiation, assessment for learning and key words. As a scientist, I added a little box for practical orders – because I never remember what I’ve ordered never mind what I get! Finally there are a series of boxes for the lesson activities.

The size of boxes, the limitations of an A4 sheet mean that there is no over planning – simply the salient details of what I am doing and what I need to organise. In line with my twitter profile I added the bunnies so i had something nice to look at – the bunnies make me smile ok?

Purple Elf’s Bunny 5 minute plan if you wish to see and download ‘my bunny version’ here it is Bunny 5 minute plan. The bunnies actually have significance – reminding me to remember what I am trying to achieve – the aww and wonder effect of the starter, to use practical, cooperative learning and extended writing tasks. Oh, and making sure something on a post it note sticks somewhere!

So the first few times that I used it, it took longer than five minutes to fill in, but with familiarity it is easier. Make no mistake, there is a lot of thinking time that goes into the lesson planning and structure before I commit it to paper, but that mental planning is liable to disappear in my dyslexic memory – so being able to commit it to paper prevents data loss. What happens when I don’t use it? Well my lessons are never really that great – there is a lack of focus, it descends into mediocre rather than meeting my high standards s0 I know it works.

Now recently the five minute plan has come into its own. If you don’t know I have been directed to do ‘death by powerpoint’ as part of my role as Head of Physics – yes I have to write 50 powerpoint slide shows for colleagues to teach from (the wisdom of this is not for discussion in public – but if you ever meet me – ask me about it). So I took the five minute plan sheet and photocopied 60 copies, added 60 sets of learning objectives, key words and levelled outcomes (as required by the boss) and started to plan each lesson using the sheet. I’ve be able to plan coherent lessons with key activities to achieve the key outcomes without getting bogged down in micro planning or just producing a bunch of powerpoint slides that don’t really help the pupils make progress towards the outcomes. I’ve added details of the resources that need to be added or used and the practicals to get them there.

So when I come to write the bloody powerpoints I at least know why I’m doing them, what the pupils need to achieve and how to get there. Why is that important? Because if I’ve got to write fifty of the things I at least want to make it coherent and my dyslexic memory has a great plan to refer to when I can’t remember why I’m doing it.

Yes… an entire scheme written on the five minute plan – its great for over planners, under planners, and those who have dyslexic memories and can’t remember that great idea we had last night…. just don’t have a go at me for doing death by powerpoint.. that wasn’t my idea!

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