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Summary of the Lesson Essay

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Class 2a is a mixed year group, with 13, more able, year one pupils and 16, less able, year two pupils. The differentiation by the classroom teacher tends to centre around ability grouping with a total of four grouped sets, two for each year group within the class.

The lesson to be described took place on Wednesday 22 October by which time the class had been together for just six weeks. I had received a total of eight hours contact time with the children prior to the implementation of the lesson.

The class dynamics were such that the majority of year two pupils appeared less focused and more disruptive than the children from year one, who generally, exhibited better levels of concentration.

Summary of the Lesson

The lesson was to be on forces and movement, for reasons to be explained following this summary the activity was to involve children experimenting with a variety of artificial surfaces that were to be placed on a board and raised by means of wooden blocks.

A toy car was then to be placed on the ramp and the number of blocks noted down when the toy car rolled down the ramp to the bottom.

The lesson was to begin with a discussion in which children were encouraged to inform me of their previous experience of using ramps as well as their own experience outside of school, riding a bike or other vehicle down a hill. Questions about riding bikes, skateboards etc on grass or on roads were also raised.

Some different material was then to be introduced and passed around for the children to touch and comment on. The proposed surfaces included sandpaper, underlay (which was to be used upside down), woollen carpet, corrugated cardboard and bubble-wrap.

A question about how “builders” decide what to make the road with was put to children who were there guided towards the word “testing”. Children were then told that we were to find out the best surfaces with which to build a new road, but we were only allowed to use the materials they had just been shown.

The children were then to propose which surface might suit our needs best (predict) before been guided towards proposing an investigation.

At the end of the lesson the children were to feedback their results (one response in particular was very interesting, details to follow) and to say if and why their predictions differed form their findings.


Areas to be addressed when planning a Science Lesson.

Having agreed to teach the whole class a science lesson it was then suggested that any activity I do, should link to the current topic of “Forces and movement.” Planning began by looking at the existing medium term planning. Appendix ii.

In addition to the existing planning, the structure of the lesson was also guided by theories of child development.

Learning theory

Wittrock’s view of learning as discussed in Learning in Science by Osborn and Freyberg (1985) proposes that to learn with understanding “learners must themselves actively construct, or generate, meaning from sensory input…”

While Piaget, as discussed in Gill Nicholls book, Learning to Teach “observed that children learn faster when they co-operate with others; this co-operation develops and improves their formal thinking” (page 41)

On the basis of Wittrock’s views I wanted the children of class 2A to perform an investigation for themselves, with as little adult intervention as possible. It was important that I accommodated Piaget’s observation, ensuring that the children work in groups to generate elements of co-operative working. This in turn raised additional issues of inclusion, which I will address later.


The importance of teacher and pupils asking questions became increasingly obvious “…the teacher must accept all answers and questions as valuable and treat them seriously.” Therefore a conscious effort was made to incorporate different types of questions to aid understanding and in turn to encourage children to raise their own questions. “Children’s questions are important to their learning because it is often through asking questions that they make the link between one experience and another…”

Making Progress in Primary Science, Harlen et al, RoutledgeFalmer, London (2003) Page 28

I planned to ask closed questions for the less able pupils (appendix ii)

Which surface did our investigation show to be the best surface?

How many blocks did we use before the car started to move when we used the sandpaper?

Through to questions that require a greater level of thinking:

Can you tell me why the results differed between groups even though we used the same types of cars?

Knowledge, Skills and Understanding

The National Curriculum specifies that in addition to being taught about scientific knowledge and understanding they should also be taught how to use the process skills that are important to scientific investigation.

Not only are these skills useful in the context of a scientific investigation the skills can also be important in other subjects in the National Curriculum, history being the most obvious. In addition to this the development of scientific skills are “needed for making sense of new experiences in the future and for learning throughout life.”

Teaching of science in primary schools, Harlen, W, Page 56

These process skills include:

> observing (using senses to collect evidence, quantifying)

> raising questions (asking questions that can be scientifically investigated)

> hypothesising (offering possible reasons)

> predicting (using knowledge or available evidence to predict a likely outcome)

> interpreting (draw a conclusion based on evidence generated)

> communicating (presenting results, discussing conclusion)

adapted from Teaching of science in primary schools, Harlen, W, Page 18

The National Curriculum recognises the skills required in science. SC1, Scientific Enquiry, page 78, lists the skills that children should have developed by the end of year 2. “They evaluate evidence and consider whether tests or comparisons are fair.”

The concept of a fair test was an area that I planned to highlight during the period of the lesson when the children would be guided towards suggesting an investigation. (appendix ii)

Children to be asked about where to place the car?

Why do we place the car in the same place each time?

Summary of Rationale

The elements of a lesson that a trainee teacher, as well as a qualified teacher, must consider while planning a lesson are numerous. During this initial discussion I have touched on a number of them including child development, teacher questioning, pupil questioning and development of process skills. These four elements influenced the planning of the lesson more than any others.

However the area that facilitates inclusive teaching also has very important implications on many areas of teaching, organisations and children’s learning including:

> presentation (techniques can be more attractive to some learners than others)

> grouping (mixed sex sets, mixed abilities, risk of children dominating)

> differentiation (providing for the various ability levels)

> recording methods (how are children to record the findings)

It is this area and its influence on planning that I will now explore.

Learning styles and the presentation of the lesson.

The range of teaching methods employed will have different appeals to the different type of learning, these being:

> Visual (written word, pictures, videos, wall charts)

> Auditory (spoken word, discussion)

> Kinesthetic (movement, hands on activity, role play, drama)

Adapted from Shaw & Hawes, Effective teaching and learning in the primary classroom (page 53)

While all children and adult are capable of learning through anyone of these senses many find that they have a preference.

The nature of scientific enquiry will tend to be one of a practical activity. Consequently there is a danger of excluding 50% of the classroom, as research has shown that boys tend to prefer this type of learning:

“… boys generally prefer to …engage in noisy, physical competitive games that involve them in manipulating or throwing objects. In contrast, girl generally prefer quieter and more cooperative activities, often involving role-play and verbal interaction.”

Shaw & Hawes, Effective teaching and learning in the primary classroom (page 65)

In order not to disassociate the children that don’t learn in a manipulative, kinesthetic, activity, I decided to build in a co-operative element within the activity. As discussed in the lesson plan, part one (see appendix ii); children will be required to pass the duties around the whole of the group.

This also meant that children were always participating or about to participate in the activity, the effect of this was to ensure that all the children stayed on task throughout the investigation.


Children were to be grouped in their registration sets. This provided each of the four groups with mixed sex groups. As a consequence the children were then with other children from the same age group, preventing the possibility that the older children with pourer concentration did not take over the activity, allowing the year one pupils to work at their own pace. Allowing me to differentiate my questioning during the activity.

Recording Methods

Two work sheets were devised allowing for differentiation in task, with more able pupils being required to write a little more and select their own material to investigate.

At the teachers recommendations the additional worksheet and the requirement of children to select their own surfaces to investigate were omitted. It was suggested that this would only confuse the children. Instead I was asked to be more prescriptive.

I believe my original lesson showed a higher level of expectation and was uneasy with the changes to be made. However, I felt it better to respect the class teachers experience and follow her recommendations, not least because I had only been with the class for a short period and did not know them very well.

Assessment of Children’s Learning

The children successfully identified and applied the “principles of fair test” (appendix i) the assessment of this was done during the lesson through questioning, observation and listening.

They discussed their finding both immediately after the activity and also the following morning, during an oral mental starter in numeracy. Using the table of results to help understanding ordinal value. Fair test was again raised and more children offered answers than on the previous day.

The children made their own predictions using both the sense of touch and sight. Through discussions during the lesson and in the plenary I was able to question the children about their predictions and whether or not the evidence would support their view or cause them to change their mind. (see appendices for observation notes of children questioned).

During the plenary the children identified the “winner” of the test. Many of the children identified why the sand paper was the more appropriate of the surfaces to use, some of the children describing the surface as “smooth” which initially confused me but in the context of the other surfaces used seemed acceptable for key stage one.

“…for opportunities for assessment have to be seized as part of the normal everyday teaching process, rendering assessment as close as possible to a ‘natural’ teaching situation.”

A guide to teaching practice, Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2003)

Assessment for assessments sack however is not acceptable. Findings should be fed back into the planning process. For example if assessment shows that children do not understand a small concept or continue to hold misconceptions then there is little or no reason for moving the learning on.

Planning “needs to provide both ‘feedback’ and ‘feedforward’, showing what children have achieved and how this will enable them to move on”.

Jones D, (2000) ‘Where am I going?: planning and assessing progress in literacy. In Fisher and Williams (Eds.) Unlocking Literacy, a guide for teachers, David Fulton (page 95).



Had I followed my planning and allowed the children to use elastic bands to add an extra dimension to the lesson, the effect would have been to double the activity time. The guidance of the class teacher’s saved me from running over time.

Timing is an area that I must develop. Initially by drawing further on the experience of qualified teachers and eventually through trial and error.

Questioning, scaffolding learning

Children provided the ideas for the investigation. Although I deliberately gave them all the clues, such as talking about ramps, showing them surfaces and giving them a context in which they were to work.

Use of language in creating misconceptions

Scientific language carries specific meaning. Children will often have experience of words outside of their scientific meaning. For example;

That isn’t a plant. It’s a weed!

Self Assessment

Even after careful planning of questions, I found myself using language that children would be unlikely to understand. This is an area that I struggled with and must work on. The classroom teacher also pointed this out to me as an area that I will develop in time. It is important that I level my questioning and phrasing appropriately to the children I am to teach if I am not to lose their interest.

While the class teacher agreed with many of my observations and assessments of her class, the subjective nature of this type of assessment did not sit comfortably with me. This again is an area I must develop my confidence in.

The structured nature of the task led to a positive learning environment. All the children took part in the activity and the majority of the class answered questions through out the session. The children worked co-operatively and showed an understanding an ability to apply the principle of fair test.


Harlen W, Macro C, Reed K and Schilling M, (2003), Making Progress in Primary Science, RoutledgeFalmer.

Harlen, W, (2003) The teaching of science in Primary Schools, David Fulton

Cohen L, Manion L, Morrison K,(2002), A Guide To Teaching Practice, RoutledgeFalmer

Osborne R, Freyberg P, (1989), Learning in Science, The implications of children’s science, Heinemann Education

National Curriculum, (1999), Dfes

Nicholls G, Learning To Teach, (1999), A handbook for primary and secondary school teachers, Kogan Page

Dean, Joan, (2000) Improving Children’s Learning, Effective teaching in the primary school, Routledge

Edited by Craft A, (1996) Primary Education, assessing and planning learning, Open University

Shaw S and Hawes T, (1998), Effective teaching and learning in the primary classroom, The Services Limited.

Jones D, (2000) ‘Where am I going?: planning and assessing progress in literacy. In Fisher and Williams (Eds.) Unlocking Literacy, a guide for teachers, David Fulton (page 95).

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