How To Keep Lesson Design Simple But Powerful
It's simple really. Use the Power of Three when designing lessons.
The Power of Three (also called the Rule of Three) is the idea that when we group things in threes they are more doable, more memorable, and more fun.
I use it and it helps me keep things simple, but powerful. I believe in the Power of Three so much that I decided to write a book about it. I will write it in 3 days.
In this blog, I want to show you how to use the Power of Three to design lessons.
Stick to 3 or fewer student directed activities per class
I do a lot of station rotation in Chemistry and I found that a bell ringer activity followed by three station activities is just about the maximum most of my students can focus on and do well before their minds get tired. Sure there are outliers; the lean mean learning machines and the students who struggle for many reasons. But, I find that sticking to just three activities is a happy median. It provides students with the right balance of time, learning, movement, and breaks.
I structure each lesson so students have 3 activities to accomplish and 3 concepts or fewer to learn and understand (some activities may reinforce the same concept). They get to move at least three times and get 3 brain breaks in between activities. This stimulates increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain as well as allows a quick mental rest before more focused brain activity. Additionally, most students perceive accomplishing 3 things as mission (very) possible.
Repeat 3 Times
One and done is a recipe for regurgitation.
Be intentional in designing lessons so that students get to process important concepts at least 3 times. Some things may require more processing. It is also crucial to space the practice out to aid memory and understanding.
When front loading at the beginning of class, compress the directions or instruction to 3 points. List 1, 2, and 3 first. Then, expand on each point. Finally, restate 1, 2, and 3 briefly. Do the same when presenting, but make sure to keep the presentation short. My advice is avoid or keep lectures to 10 minutes or less. We like hearing ourselves talk too much. Students? Not so much.
Less (Three) Is More
The Power of Three works well for me. It is important to stay flexible though. There are difficult concepts we teach that require more processing than others, so we might choose to focus on one at a time. There may be times when you feel you can cover 4 or 5 in the span of one period. Try it! Just make sure you get feedback and assess if your students are learning, understanding, and remembering.
Don't forget to review key several times before you give the summative assessment. Give students the opportunity to process them at least 3 times through activities you design. Make sure this practice is spaced out. Mix it up to involve as many senses as possible while learning.
Most of the time, 3 or less is a good rule. There's power in three. Slow down and remember that less is more. Apply the Power of Three and you will see.
You have the power to change the world. Use it often.