Questions about Learning Focused Schools
Please write your questions below, so they may be addressed at our September 28th grade level meeting. Thank you in advance for your questions!

  • Questions from 10/13/09
  • Time allocation for whole group versus small group?
  • Is this every day?
  • Are our substitute teachers going to be provided LFS training to provide instruction in this format and understand our lesson plans?
  • If we are giving an assessment, do we have to write the lesson in the LFS format (EATS) or can we simply write: assessment and the content?
  • Do we need to do LFS planning for social science as one content area or can we pick either science, health, or social studies?
  • Teachers have shared with me that the new lesson plan format (LFS) is taking them hours and hours and hours to complete! Some of our newer teachers are feeling very stressed about this. Any suggestions to stream line the process?

Planning in the EATS format

Do we need to write all subjects in EATS for next school year?
This is something we have not discussed from an administrative perspective yet and certainly something for which we would be seeking input from teachers. We will want to move ahead in our implementation. Expectations for next year are something that will be decided upon collaboratively by principals and teachers.

What is the time limit for EATS?
That depends on how long it takes for students to be able to answer your essential question. Some EATS lessons might take several days to complete. Others fit nicely into a regular class period. If a lesson takes less than 15 minutes, it probably isn't one that needs to go into an EATS format. Most handwriting review lessons wouldn't need to be written in an EATS format.

Should lesson plans be in EATS or just our unit plans?
The acquisition lesson plan format that we use in our units contains the EATS components, but it also contains extra things like the vocabulary and the graphic organizer. IT also contains a more detailed description of the teaching strategies, including assessment prompts to check for understanding along the way. Writing an EATS lesson just involves writing a brief description of the four parts. Until we have lessons developed within the units, the EATS format can be used to write lessons.

Not sure why new teachers are doing it in all areas.
This has come up several times and was something that we discussed administratively over the summer. The suggestion to have all new teachers write lesson plans in the EATS format came from our visit to Mechanicsburg School District last spring. They have been involved with LFS for several years and have all teachers use the EATS format for lesson planning. We know that student teachers are required to write really detailed plans, and felt that the EATS format, while more detailed than what our experienced teachers use, was much less detailed than what new teachers were required to use during student teaching. We also want our new teachers to really think about what students will learn (the essential question) and tie the activities to match it rather than choosing the activities first. Planning takes lots of time for everyone at the elementary level, and we thought if new teachers were putting a lot of time into their planning, students would learn more as a result of their plans if new teachers used the EATS format.


Could we move and organized the Frayer to start at the top and work forward?
Absolutely! Just label your boxes that way. Remember that LFS tells us to "adapt, don't adopt," so if reorganizing the order of the boxes makes sense to you, by all means do it.

What do we do when our kids are Frayered out?
Use a different vocabulary strategy - a vocabulary matrix, a concept map, or another vocabulary strategy that you know.

How can you do a Frayer if the kids don't know anything about a word?
You can't. In our LFS training, we did a Frayer about the word "learning" to help you develop a deeper knowledge about it. With students, you could do a Frayer about the word "animal" because it's something they know about, although they may not know the characteristics or the true definition of what makes an animal different from a plant.

What’s do wrong with telling a student what a word means?
Nothing. This is actually one of the things you do when using the vocabulary matrix. With the matrix, you then have the students make a connection to that definition, either by drawing a picture, by listing similar words that they know, or by writing an example or phrase to remind them of the word’s meaning. You can’t possibly do a big activity for every new word you want the students to learn. Sometimes you’ll just tell them the meaning.

Activating Strategies

Can you only use the activating strategies that have been provided to you?
You may use any activating strategy that will help either build or activate your students' prior knowledge. Remember that your activator needs to directly tie to your essential question. Also, if the students don't know anything about the topic, you'll need to build prior knowledge. If they already know something about the topic, you want your activator to activate that knowledge.

How do you choose the correct activating strategy?
There really isn't a "correct" activating strategy, although some are probably better than others for helping kids begin to build the knowledge they need to answer the essential question. To choose a strategy, first ask yourself if the students know anything about the topic. Once you know that, you'll know whether you need to build knowledge from the ground up, or if you should just activate the knowledge they already have.

How long should the activating strategy take?
It should be about 10% of the EATS lesson.

Summarizing Strategies
Since a lesson might take longer than one day, do we have to summarize after each day?
Technically, the summarizing only happens at the end of the lesson - even if the lesson extends over a few days. Many teachers like to have students summarize what has been learned in a particular day, though, just to see if they are learning. You might be able to use an assessment prompt as a summarizer for a lesson that extends over multiple days. Again, adapt, don't adopt.

Sometimes the teaching strategies leave little time for summarizing. When I plan to leave time for the summarizer, I haven’t covered enough material for students to have the necessary knowledge to answer the EQ. What do you do in this situation?
Because a “lesson” may last for several days, you may not be able to use your summarizer. Using an assessment prompt can help you to see what the kids have learned to this point. You don’t have to use a summarizer until you’ve finished the lesson, although you may do something simple like having the students tell their partners what they’ve learned so far or what they found most interesting as a quick summarizer.

Graphic Organizers
Is it feasible to have a graphic organizer with every lesson?
It is recommended by LFS, but may not be realistic, but it is certainly something you should at least consider for every lesson. Remember that this is all a process. You won' be able to see how a graphic organizer fits in every lesson this year, and you aren't expected to. (New teachers aren't expected to use one with every lesson either.) My guess is that LFS says to use one with every lesson because if they didn't recommend this, people would only use them once in a while. Use your good judgement and look for ways to expand your use of them when you can.

How often should the students be referring to previous graphic organizers from the unit?
Once a graphic organizer has been completed, students usually refer to them as a basis for their writing or as a study guide when reviewing for a test. In younger grades you might refer to it regularly as part of your activator.

EveryDay Math
Can we use manual page numbers in EveryDay Math for the T in EATS?
Absolutely. EDM is a research-based program.

How can we fit organizers into our EveryDay Math instruction?
You probably won't.

I am still confused about applying this format to guided reading lesson plans.
Keep using the format for guided reading lesson plans that you learned to use last year. It is much better suited to guided reading planning.

When will we get more time to work together?
Unfortunately, summer is really the only extended time we have to work on developing units. Our plan is to offer at least two opportunities this summer for teams to continue to develop lessons. We will include a review of the unit develop process before you begin working.