Toolkit Planning Tool

Planning Tools

These are metacognitive/self-reflective questions that teachers can pose to themselves to help them consider specific strategies for enacting the MDP in an upcoming lesson. These questions are meant to guide teachers to think as concretely and specifically as possible about what they will say/do to support the MDP.

Belonging Planning Tool
  1. To what extent do this lesson’s activities promote student voices/contributions, and how will I acknowledge and recognize these contributions such that students know that I value their voices?
  2. To what degree do this lesson’s activities allow for peer collaboration and support? How have I built time into this lesson to encourage supportive dialogue between students and to acknowledge when it has occurred?
  3. How does this lesson recognize that all students have different experiences (personal and academic), and what resources and strategies am I using to leverage the diversity of student experience or prior knowledge?
  4. How does this lesson extend an invitation into science for all students? How am I connecting this lesson to my students’ experiences outside the classroom and checking that I am not sending explicit and implicit messages about who does and does not belong in science?
  5. Are there any newly evolving classroom dynamics or individual student needs that I should be considering? How might I design this lesson to accommodate those developments to continue fostering a sense of belonging for all students?
  6. What am I planning in my lesson to show that I am available and respectful to my students? At what points in the lesson am I encouraging students to approach me with questions and what time have I set aside to allow space for those conversations?
  1. How will I communicate a clear learning goal/objective to students and the expectations for student work in this lesson? To what extent are instructions clear and detailed enough for students to do the work but not too detailed as to convey a lack of confidence in their ability to complete the work?
  2. How will different students interpret the level of challenge of these tasks? What assumptions am I making about what students know and can do, and what evidence do I have or need to check these assumptions? What modifications (e.g., scaffolds, strategies to increase challenge) can I make to the lesson to set the work at an appropriate level for my students? What evidence during the lesson will tell me if the work presents the appropriate level of challenge, and what will I do if I miscalibrated the work for some or many students?
  3. How will I communicate that I believe every student is capable of doing the work? How will I encourage students if they perceive the assignment to be too challenging?
  4. How will I guide and support students through this lesson to be successful? Have I anticipated and am I prepared for where they might encounter challenges? How will I move students through transitions smoothly? When and how in the lesson can I easily make adjustments in the moment to respond to different student needs that may arise?
  5. What models or examples can I make or share to help students see successful examples? How will I help students identify what knowledge or skills they have that can help them succeed during this lesson?
  6. What opportunities are there in this lesson for all students to experience a sense of accomplishment and receive informational feedback about the causes of their successes and failures? What kind of specific feedback should I anticipate giving that will draw students’ attention to strategy use and potential for improvement?
  1. What opportunities does this lesson provide for students to engage in challenging reasoning, making sense of phenomena, designing solutions, revising their thinking, and/or reflecting on their understanding?
  2. How will I frame the purpose of this lesson/specific activities to students? What will I say throughout this lesson to incentivize student effort/strategy use and deeper learning versus speed, points, or compliance?
  3. How am I encouraging participation and personal responsibility for learning from all students in this lesson? How will I collect evidence of multiple students’ thinking during this lesson, and ensure that I don’t just stop when I hear the right answer?
  4. How can I ensure that my evaluation of students assesses deeper understanding rather than surface memorization and aligns with the purpose of the lesson?
  5. In what ways might students be inclined to compare themselves to others in this lesson (positively or negatively)? How can I try to pre-empt those comparisons and/or respond to them in the moment?
  6. What steps have I taken to ensure that students will feel comfortable making mistakes, admitting that they don’t know something, or taking intellectual risks in this lesson? How will I draw on established classroom norms and routines related to mistakes, and what, if any, additional structures or reminders/reinforcements might be required for this particular lesson?
  1. What kinds of choices do students have in this lesson? How will I make sure that the choices are consequential to students’ science learning, and how will I know?
  2. To what extent does my lesson afford students the opportunity to control the direction and/or form of their learning? Are there specific points in the lesson where this can happen?
  3. What opportunities for meaningful cognitive autonomy have I built into my lesson? What proportion of teacher talk to student talk do I anticipate in this lesson? If it is very lopsided in favor of teacher talk, where are there opportunities for me to invite more student talk?
  4. How can I challenge myself to promote student autonomy in this lesson in ways that enhance students’ development as science learners? How will these autonomy supports help students make sense of phenomena and/or design solutions to problems in this lesson?
  5. What classroom rules and procedures do I need students to follow in this lesson, and what rationales can I provide to encourage students to follow these rules, as well as engage in the learning task? How can I be prepared to articulate a rationale for learning and behavioral expectations that emphasizes student agency over compliance with authority?
  6. What kinds of reactions or emotions may students have to the activities in this lesson? How will I acknowledge and respond to potential negative emotions (e.g., boredom, frustration) in supportive ways that recognize and validate students’ perspectives?
  1. To what extent can all of my students relate to this lesson? What materials or references can I use that are familiar to students? What can I draw on from popular culture right now to help students connect to what we are learning?
  2. How am I recognizing and leveraging student knowledge and assets to pique student interest and value in this lesson? How can I ensure that the relevance connections in the lesson are inclusive and culturally responsive, including acknowledging historic and/or structural injustices when appropriate?
  3. How am I helping students to connect the lesson activities to each other, to prior lessons, to the unit overall, and/or to future learning? How can I frame activities and/or what rationales can I provide during activity transitions that will help students recognize the relevance of each activity for our ongoing learning?
  4. What do I find exciting/interesting/fun/enjoyable about this topic? How can I demonstrate or communicate my enthusiasm to students?
  5. How can I encourage students to recognize and discuss the implications of this lesson for their communities or everyday lives? What materials, displays, or other resources can I bring into the classroom for this lesson that support cultural relevance and help students identify real-world applications and significance of the lesson?
  6. What is taking place in the world or local communities right now that I can draw on in relation to the phenomenon or design problem of interest? Are there opportunities to connect students’ in-class learning to these current events or issues and/or give assignments an authentic context?