Classroom Lessons 1: The Tree of Knowledge – structuring a sequence of lessons

This week, I observed Helen Close teach Year 3 Science. There were many good ideas to take away: variety of task, classroom management, questioning… the list goes on. However, the one aspect of the lesson that made me reflect most on my own practice was the way Helen structured a new topic using the ‘Tree of Knowledge’.


Students were asked to write on purple post-its what they already knew about ‘Light’: these were stuck to the roots of the tree.

During the lesson, they were encouraged to write on pink post-its what they would like to know: these were stuck to the trunk of the tree, e.g. “Why don’t shadows show detail?”

When planning subsequent lessons, Helen will use the questions and prior level of knowledge to tailor the content appropriately. The final stage will be the ‘what we have learned’ branches.

As a Senior School teacher, I am conscious that I don’t always take prior knowledge as the starting point. Moreover, how often do I allow student questions to form the basis of future lessons?

As ever, there was much to learn from our Junior School colleagues.

[JAS, Feb 2017]




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