The activating lesson cycle

Thomas Courtley, ex teacher and LessonUp education specialist

Thomas Courtley

Education Specialist

Cover image blog_ The activating lesson cycle

If you have been teaching for a while, you probably teach with a consolidated lesson structure. You know it like the back of your hand, but does it activate and engage all your students?

Want to create a lesson with an activating lesson cycle?

5 tips to make sure all students are activated


1. Make sure you learning objectives are clear

Explain clearly to your students what the lesson’s learning objectives are. Write them on a LessonUp slide, and show them on the central digital board. 

Make sure you write your objectives in everyday English. You might want to address your students directly by writing ‘you will learn’, or ‘I will learn’. Formulating them in a more personal way creates a stronger connection between you and your students. It helps them feel engaged with the learning objectives.

☝If you can, differentiate learning objectives to match your students' needs. Colour codes help clarify the differentiation.


2. Activate your students’ prior knowledge

If you request prior knowledge at the beginning of a lesson, new learning material is digested better. All teachers know this, but it takes time to ask all students. 

Would you like to make it a concise activating moment at the beginning of your lesson? Try LessonUp’s mind map: it’s digital, interactive, and collects all your students’ prior knowledge in one slide. You decide whether or not to reveal the feedback. Check and reposition their answers, and discuss them with your class.

☝Go back to the initial mind map at the end of your lessons. Show your pupils how much they have learned!


3. Add interactivity to engage your students

In general, your students can’t wait to interact with your lesson material! Yet not all of them enjoy answering questions out loud, or during classroom debates. 

They might prefer some digital interaction to spice up their school day. Quizzes always work well, but also open-ended questions that require more insightful answers. Students really enjoy working with the digital spinner as name-picker, or question-asker. Videos, imagery, drag & drops: LessonUp has it all. Want to try?

☝Challenge your student to review timelines, activate vocabulary, or connect themes and terms with the drag & drop.


4. Follow clear lesson phases

Inform your students about your lesson’s structure, so they know what to expect. They like to know where they stand within the lesson, and what comes next.

You probably know how many slides your lesson has left, but students don’t always realise how long they are expected to focus. They might look forward to a specific part of your lesson: that helps them engage during previous phases. Indicate with text or imagery where your lesson stands, and where it’s heading to. 

☝Prepare a standard slide or image at the beginning of your lesson indicating your lesson’s structure: simple and clear.


5. Crown your lesson with an exit ticket plenary

A learning objective is only effective if you double check its effect at the end of the lesson. Sometimes your expectations don’t match those of your students. 

Create a simple, straightforward 'exit-ticket' plenary with 2 open-ended questions at the end of your lesson: "Write down 3 things you learned during this lesson", and “ask a question about something you don’t completely understand”. This brings your lesson cycle back to the initial learning objectives. Check if your students have hit the target. If not, discuss what isn’t clear and help them out. 

☝Alternatively, implement a poll with happy to sad emojis as an ‘exit ticket’. Check how students ‘feel’ about what they learn.