Lesson Sequencing

A teacher’s job is not restricted to the activities they perform in the classroom nor is it restricted to school hours.  Teachers are obliged to plan; that is, to prepare for what is expected to happen in the class during school hours. Planning in teaching is commonly thought to involve making ‘lesson plans’, only; however, each lesson needs to address a set of broader objectives, and these must be planned, too.  Laying out the broader picture is called ‘unit planning’.  In order to create a series of lessons that hang together and meet the broader objectives, the teacher needs to prepare several lessons at once; these individual lessons must be presented in an order that optimizes the students’ ability to internalize the learning. The order in which lessons are presented is called ‘lesson sequencing’. In this section of the web site, we will review what lesson sequencing entails, how to do it, and why it is important.

What is lesson sequencing?

Lesson sequencing is the process of organizing several lesson plans that will be taught consecutively.  The purpose of lesson sequencing is to create smooth transitions between lessons in order to meet the objectives of the unit plans and to achieve optimal learning outcomes.

Why should lessons be sequenced?

Well-sequenced lesson plans benefit both the teacher and the students. Well-organized and properly sequenced lesson plans allow for a smother functioning classroom; classroom disruptions are minimized, the stress on the teacher is reduced and the learning environment is optimized for the students.  Some of the other benefits to be gained from effective lesson sequencing include, the following:

  • Smoother transitions: Unit planning allows the teacher to be aware of the end goals of a learning segment. As a result, the order in which material is presented; that is, lesson sequencing, can be planned as well.  When the teacher can plan what is intended to happen during each lesson they will be able to make the transitions between lessons as smooth as possible. This will benefit the students, as well, since they will be better prepared to absorb new material when it is presented in an orderly manner.
  • Facilitates scaffolding: Clear end goals and sequenced lessons allow teachers to anticipate difficulties and problem areas.  Additional supports; such as, specific exercises and activities, can be provided to assist students meet the challenge of more difficult concepts.  The teacher can scaffold the subject matter, so that as the tasks grow more complex and difficult the students will have more resources and insight to draw upon in order that they meet the challenge successfully.
  • Better organization: The job of a teacher is demanding and requires good organization skills. A teacher who sequences lessons will know in advance what will be covered in a particular lesson.  This allows the teacher to prepare photocopies, worksheets, hand-outs, etc… in advance. Lesson sequencing has some additional benefits as well; for example, if the class progresses through the material more quickly than anticipated, the teacher will be able to move on to more advanced tasks very readily since they have already been planned.  In addition, if the students do not progress through the material at the same rate, the teacher will be able to set up a differentiated lesson plan to accommodate faster and slower learners since the whole package of lessons have been prepared.
  • Future planning: Sequencing lessons in advance allows teachers to predict how long they think it will take to cover certain material, and then see how long it actually took when the lessons are delivered to the students.  Since teachers often recycle unit plans and lesson plans over several years, they will be able to modify their planning for future years based on their experience.
  • Assessment checks: Since the unit plans and lesson plans have been prepared in advance, the teacher will be able to identify the optimal points in the program for checking the students’ understanding of the material and also how best to structure these assessments.
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What are some tips for sequencing lessons?

  • It is beneficial to identify the learning goals for both the unit plan as a whole, as well as each individual lesson plan.  Setting such over-all and specific goals assists in the lesson sequencing process.  It also it reveals what materials and learning aids are necessary to achieve those goals.
  • Utilize the BSLIM model to double check the progression of learning activities. Is the Giving It segment sufficient? Do the students have enough Getting It activities? Is the lesson sequencing leading the students toward Using It and Proving It activities and then helping them through those activities?
  • Review your lesson plans to assess whether enough scaffolding has been built in. Do the students have the necessary tools to complete each particular activity?
  • Consider your planning of checks of student understanding of the material and your assessments.  Are they appropriate given the class size? The type of student in the class? The type of activities they will be engaging in?
Ensure you are using a variety of activities! Assess the activities that you have planned and prepared to make sure that they target as many Multiple Intelligences as possible. Consider colour coding the activities to be clear about which of the Multiple Intelligences are being targeted in each case.
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Copyright © Olenka Bilash May 2009 ~ Last Modified June 2009