When I ditched my lesson plan

Today I ditched my lesson plan, crazy ain’t it?

When I say it was a good day, I mean it! My coffee mug was filled to the brim and nothing could go wrong.

I had studied my lesson plan the day before and my students and I were going to inquire into number properties and how we could use them to create continuous patterns. Armed with all the thought provoking ideas from the student Agency training with Taryn, I realised and decided I would not be the “fountain of knowledge”

Because I have decided to take baby steps, I thought being transparent and sharing the plans and benchmarks would make me less of a benevolent dictator. The first thing we did was brainstorm what a benchmark was and what it meant. We concluded that it was a standard against which we would be measured.
They were tasked to find what the Pascal and Chinese triangle was, and find as much as they could. Pascal’s had a lot of information and details which was quite easy for them to find.

When it got to the Chinese triangle, there wasn’t that much to find. They came back puzzled saying, “It is the same” “They aren’t that different” . So we decided to look at what made them similar. IMG_0821 2.JPG

IMG_0822 2.JPG

After all that inquiry, we decided to watch a TED talk about this triangle.

What we found changed our lesson, we discovered this triangle was first  used in the Indus valley and Mesopotamia. Puzzled, one student,  with fresh insights from the ancient civilisations unit asserted,

“Mesopotamia was one of the earliest if not the first civilisation. Why are we calling it Pascal who is French?”

Another jumped in arguing that the Indus Valley was the most advanced in maths and the French had not existed then.

So I whipped out some post it notes and asked them to write down why we should not call it Pascal’s triangle.


Since we are now experts at finding facts and evidence to persuade others, finding facts to support the argument wasn’t a hard one.

Their reasons were not only thought provoking and reflective but they had me question my structure of teaching. What if I had stuck to the plan and taught them what I wanted them to learn so that I can tick off a box at the end of the unit? What if I had been the sole source of what they were learning?

Today we forgot about benchmarks, and had an unbridled inquiry.

Today was a good day…

Winnie is a lifelong learner who teaches grade 4 at the International School of Uganda.

Twitter handle: @kahubire