We call the process of thinking through a lesson and asking these questions during the planning stage, ‘offline simulation’. It enables a lesson to be critiqued before it is delivered to students in order to iron out any issues that may hinder learning and progress.
Effective offline simulation requires the teacher’s delivery, discussion, questions and assumptions to be thought through and addressed before the lesson. Typical assumptions include assuming what child X, Y and Z are capable, the concept taught being understood by all students first time; the provocation initiating the desired response or the teacher having meaningful, applied examples to share with students. For example:
A Year 7 teacher had planned a well-differentiated lesson on multiplication. He had factored in the possibility, based on his pop quiz of prior understanding, that some students may move quickly through to the end of his differentiated success criteria steps, from their various starting points. So he had planned his final learning activities to focus on applied learning, following the PE²A methodology.
However, he had assumed that the students that would reach this stage would be able to decode the words of the problems he gave them and easily determine what maths they were required to do. After offline simulating the lesson, he came to realise that he needed to teach the decoding of word-based problems and that assuming the students would have been able to do this unaided would have led to this part of his lesson not working. He also realised that the extra skill needed to do this was an indication that students were not applying the skill they had learnt.