Madeline Hunter’s 8-Step Lesson Plan Format

Over the past twenty years, teachers have been following the teachings of Dr. Madeline Hunter based on her belief that in order to be effective a teacher must plan a lesson according to a certain methodology. This methodology required a lesson contain eight elements that would maximize and enhance learning. She labeled and described each of the eight elements and launched a teacher training career. Her eight elements of lesson design has certainly stood the test of time and is still used in colleges’ teacher training courses and by school districts’ judging of the effectiveness of teachers.

It was never Hunter’s intention that every lesson must include all of the eight elements to be effective. Hunter actually never labeled her suggested lesson plan elements as the “Eight-Step Lesson Plan”. The misunderstanding began in 1976 when Hunter and Doug Russel wrote an article entitled “Planning for Effective Instruction Design”. In this article they described the elements that should be considered in the design of a lesson. They stated that the inclusion of the following elements would increase the probability of the students’ success of reaching the objective of the lesson: objective, anticipatory set, input, modeling, checking for understanding, guided practice, independent practice and closure.

Ever since then, teachers have been trying to fit all the elements into all their lesson plans, and administrators looked for the including of all seven steps in teachers’ lessons. It wasn’t long before teachers complained that all the steps didn’t seem to be appropriate and should not always be followed step by step. Once a teacher fully understands each of the elements, he or she can better select the ones that would lead to the students’ reaching the lesson objective. For the purpose of your understanding each element, they are defined below with an example applied to the element. For the sake of demonstration, examples are based on a classroom lesson on fractions and percentages.

Note: Materials needed for this 45 minute lesson include: a jar of M&Ms or Skittles, markers or crayons in various colors, calculator and worksheet for recording calculations.

1. Anticipatory Set:

The purpose of the anticipatory set is to both get the students focused on what they will learn with today’s lesson and to get them interested in the topic as well.

Before the lesson begins, the teacher initiates a short activity designed to get the students’ attention. It can be a hand-out given to the students as they enter the classroom, one or two problems presented on an overhead transparency, review questions on yesterday’s lesson on the front board or today’s lesson agenda written on the front board.

For example: The teacher will be teaching a lesson on percentages and fractions. In preparing for the lesson before class, the teacher places 4 or 5 transparent jars filled with a mixture of various colored M&Ms or Skittles on a desk or table at the front of the class. Four questions are written on the front board:

• “What fraction would represent the number of red M&Ms (or Skittles) in the first jar?“
• “How could we determine the fraction to represent the number of red M&Ms (or Skittles) in the first jar?”
• “What is the percentage of blue M&Ms (or Skittles) in your group’s jar?”
• “How could we determine the percentage of blue M&Ms (or Skittles) in your group’s jar?”

2. Objective and Purpose:

When students know what they will be learning and why, they will learn more effectively. The students need to know what they will learn, how they will learn it, and why they are learning it.

The objectives of the M&Ms lesson are:

• The students will know what a fraction is.
• The students will be able to calculate a fraction.
• The students will know what a percent is.
• The students will be able to calculate a percent.
• The students will know how percents and fractions are related.
• The students will be able to use fractions to calculate percents.

3. Input:

The teacher presents and/or develops the new knowledge, skill or process to the students in an effective manner. The effective manner could be through discussion, questions and answers, discovery, discussion, listening, reading or observing. The input should include vocabulary, concepts and skills the students need to understand in order to be successful at accomplishing the objectives.

Through questions and answers for the lesson on fractions and percents, the teacher will lead students in a discussion of fractions and percents, how percents are calculated and how percents and fractions are related.

4. Modeling:

Modeling makes it possible for students to actually “see” what they will be doing and learning. The students’ understanding of the concepts is increased by the teacher demonstrating them.

Using a transparency of the worksheet, the first jar of M&Ms (or Skittles) and questions and answers, the teacher demonstrates how to get answers to the first two questions written on the front board.

• “What fraction would represent the number of red M&Ms (or Skittles) in the first jar?“
• “How could we determine the fraction to represent the number of red M&Ms (or Skittles) in the first jar?”

5. Checking for Understanding:

It is essential that the teacher makes sure the students understand what has been presented. She or he applies questioning strategies in order to determine the lesson pace.

6. Guided Practice:

The new learning is practiced by the students as the teacher supervises them directly. Using a hear and see approach, the teacher leads the students through steps to perform the skill introduced.

At this time, the teacher can arrange students into cooperative groups for the fraction and percent lesson. A jar of M&Ms (or Skittles), worksheets and markers or crayons would be distributed to each group. As the teacher demonstrates figuring out the answers to the second two questions written on the front board, the students also follow in order to determine the answers to the second two questions:

• “What is the percentage of blue M&Ms (or Skittles) in your group’s jar?”
• “How could we determine the percentage of blue M&Ms (or Skittles) of your group’s jar?”

7. Independent Practice & Application of Principles:

The teacher assigns independent practice when convinced the students fully understand the new material. The students now practice the skills taught by the previous steps. The purpose of this section is to reinforce learning through practice. It can be homework, individual work or group work done in class. It can be a means for students to apply the principles of the lesson they have learned.

Each group is directed by the teacher to select another color of the M&Ms (or Skittles) and answer all four questions written on the front board. The students record their calculation results on the worksheet. The worksheets can be used by the teacher to evaluate the success and progress of the students.

8. Closure:

Most lessons end with closure which basically wraps up the lesson. It can entail a question such as “What have we learned today?” It can also be a wrap up statement given orally by the teacher and shown on a transparency on the overhead at the same time. It can be a kind of final “check for understanding” since it reviews and clarifies the lesson’s key points. It also provides a cue to the students that the lesson is ending.

Note: Every lesson does not necessarily include all eight lesson elements. There are also times when one of these elements occurs more than once in a lesson. Since the eight elements are only meant to guide the teacher’s thinking when planning a specific lesson, the list shouldn’t be used as a rigid formula. There can also be times when it can take more than one class to include all the elements.

Using Math Games in Madeline Hunter’s 8-Step Lesson Plan Format

When it comes to lesson plans that work, Madeline Hunter’s 8-step format for lesson plans has been known to withstand the test of time. Many school districts and individual teachers consider this the format for a successful lesson. The question now is, “How do Math Games fit into Hunter’s lesson format?”

Step 1: It is essential that you, the teacher, know the objective of your lesson. Only then can you select the file folder game to match the objective of your lesson. The purpose of using the file folder games is not to fill time. If they are to have any value to the lesson, they must be an integral part of the lesson plan.

Step 2: Customize the game level. Since you know the level of your students, you can revise the game’s rules sufficiently to be sure your students are challenged. Adaptation suggestions for all of the 42 games are included in the book.

Step 3: You are now ready to begin the lesson plan. Hunter’s lesson plan format begins with the “Anticipatory Set”. The purpose of the anticipatory set is to grab the attention of the students. This is where your creativity comes into the plan. You can have a problem on the front board for students to attempt to solve, or you can simply present the game.

Step 4: Once you have the students’ attention, it is time to let them know exactly what your objective is for the lesson. After introducing the vocabulary, concepts and skills to be taught by playing the game, the students should be ready to play.

Step 5: If necessary, you can demonstrate or model how the game is played. This can be the “input” segment of the lesson.

Step 6: To play the game, arrange students in cooperative groups. Allow the students to play independently while learning. The teacher can at that time circulate around the room in order to offer help to students in the “guided practice” segment of the lesson.

Step 7: The closure of the lesson can be to have students report to you what they learned by playing the game.

Step 8: One of the simpler games can be sent home for homework and independent practice with an application of principles.