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Intentional: What does it mean?

If your goal is to create an intentional classroom, what does that mean for you?

Merriam-Webster defines intentional as done by intention or design: intended. Synonyms include: conscious, deliberate, purposeful, or willful.

Think about those words. Is that what your planning looks like? Your lessons? Your assessment? Are you being as intentional as you can be?

If our intention is to set up an intentional classroom, think about a classroom where everything you do is deliberate and purposeful. There is a reason for everything you do – and that reason isn’t to fill time.

What might your reasons be?

Let’s say you want to address the standard: Analyze how themes are developed through the intersection of characters and events (8.7A)

What needs to happen that first day? What do you need to do to get learning started? You will need to make deliberate and thoughtful decisions for this lesson - and every lesson.

Maybe for the first day you are going to deliberately:

  • Activate background knowledge – Re-introduce the concept of theme or characterization or plot or do a short pre-assessment of the topics to get students thinking about them.

  • Engage students in a discussion – Using a recent short story, prompt students with a series of questions to scaffold the beginning of a conversation about the intersection of character, plot, and theme.

  • Provide an opportunity for students to write – Assign a brief freewrite for students to write down their initial thoughts about how characters and events intersect to create a larger message

  • Assess what the students already understand or misunderstand – Ask a series of purposeful questions. Have students go through a think-pair-share protocol. Use their responses as a jumping off point to this lesson.

This will all set you and your students up for your next lesson. Everything in your lesson had a purpose, you did it for a reason, and it connects to your larger lesson cycle.

If we aren’t purposeful and deliberate, we may find ourselves wasting precious time. The fact is we have limited time with our students, and we need to take full advantage of every moment we have. It’s not about perfection. It’s about doing the best we can, with the skills and talents we have, to create the best learning opportunities for our students in our classrooms.

But there’s more to it than that. In my next blog, we’ll talk about crafting learning intentions for students and creating success criteria. These will serve as the foundation for our intentional lessons.

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