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Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

Lesson Topic/Lesson Length: Engaging in Respectful

Name: Elena Alba Classroom Talk (during a unit about building a colony on
Mars through teamwork and design) – 20-30 minutes
Content Area: English Language Arts Grade Level(s): 6th-8th, mixed level
Class Context:
12 students. 3-4 students with specific learning disabilities in reading and writing. 2 students on behavior improvement plans.
None are English Language Learners. These students are all on the Habitation Team, while the other students in the school are
split up into the other three project teams. During this particular class, students will be learning group discussion skills to
enable them to complete the necessary steps for their project tasks over the course of the week.

Lesson Content
Background Information/ Relevance/ Context/ Rationale (Purpose) – Please be clear about how this particular lesson is situated within
the current instructional sequence (i.e., unit), why this content important for students to learn, and how you will convey the relevance and significance of
this lesson to students.

We are in the beginning stages of a project focused around building a colony on Mars. Students have been split into teams
(Project Management, GIS/Mapping, Laboratory Systems, Habitation Team) based on interest, but are finding group
discussions and productive group work challenging, particularly when writing up findings and plans together. Students have
already had two meetings in their teams, but the teachers who are team leaders are now ready to have an intentional discussion
with the students about appropriate classroom and group work talk. They are all in the planning stages of the Mars colony
project. This lesson is designed to be taught to all of the teams, but separately and in their specific team contexts. In this
particular lesson, I will be working with the Habitation Team, who will eventually write up a detailed plan together for how to
keep 100 people alive on Mars indefinitely.

Relevant VSOLs/CCSSs – Include only the standards addressed by this particular lesson

VSOL 8.1 The student will participate in, collaborate in, and report on small-group learning activities.
b) Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on
grade (6-8) topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.1C: Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’
questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.

Learning Targets -- Please reference these learning targets throughout your lesson plan.
As a result of this lesson, students will…

1. Students will understand that productive discussions require respectful behavior and input from all participants, and
that they can support one another’s learning through strategic use of positive classroom talk.
2. Students will understand that they can support one another’s learning through strategic use of positive classroom talk
3. Students will know how to respond in an affirmational manner to peers’ contributions to conversations.
4. Students will know how to build off of and respond to one another’s comments
5. Students will know how to use each other’s names when speaking and making connections between points.
6. Students will know how to disagree with peers in a calm, respectful manner during a team or group discussion.

7. Students will be able to contribute positively to group discussions.
8. Students will be able to build off of and respond to others’ comments.
9. Students will be able to articulate why they disagree with a peer in a respectful manner, referencing particular texts.
10. Students will be able to engage in a student-directed group discussion.

Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

Assessments: – How will you know if students have met/made progress towards the learning targets? Be sure these assessments are integrated
throughout the procedures and steps in the lesson outlined below.

Diagnostic Formative Summative

Method of assessment: Method of assessment:
Individual reflection Google Form
Description of assessment:
Description of assessment:
Students completed a multi-question Aligned with which Learning Target(s):
Google Form in the form of an individual
reflection. They were asked to respond to Criteria for assessment:
questions asking them to consider how
well they contributed to the large group How data will be used:
discussion, considering the mini-lesson on
respectful discussion elements, and what
they would like to do better in the future. I
will compile the responses from students
and identified common themes, types of
complaints, and areas of enjoyment.

Aligned with which Learning Target(s): 1, 8

Criteria for assessment:

Are students able to:
 Identify some of the elements of
a quality group discussion, such
o Not speaking over one
o Contributing but not
dominating a discussion
o Building off peers’
o Allowing productive
o Agreeing and
disagreeing respectfully
 Reflect on their personal
participation in a group activity
and assess their contributions
 Set tangible goals for improving
their performance in the future

How data will be used:

I will use this data to inform my instruction
for each child with regards to future team
work on the Mars colony project. Based on
their own assessment of their
performance, I will either re-teach positive
group discussion dynamics entirely, review
several that students seem to find
challenging, or move on to the next step
of Habitation Team work. I will also use
the information to improve the way I work

Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

Method of assessment:
Large group discussion

Description of assessment:
This formative assessment involves me
monitoring the behavior and contributions
of students during a short whole-class
discussion about the Mars colony project.
Students were reminded to practice using
the good group work elements we
identified during the mini-lesson. I took
notes on who spoke, and how well
students used the skills we had discussed
earlier in class to contribute to the

Aligned with which Learning Target(s): 1-7

Criteria for assessment:

Are students able to:
 Affirm one another’s
contributions to a discussion
 Piggyback off one another’s
ideas in order to keep a
discussion going
 Offer differing perspectives in a
respectful manner
 Allow others to speak without

How data will be used:

Notes from this observation period
will be used to assess which students
have a good handle on respectful
group discussion behaviors, and which
students need more scaffolding and
instruction in group work norms. I will
use this information to help guide
future group discussions and whole-
team activities, and to pinpoint which
students tend toward certain
leadership roles. If my observations
reveal that students are still struggling
with all or some elements of group
discussion, I will use my notes to
inform the way in which I re-teach the
lesson so that it is tailored to my
students’ needs.
Materials/ Supplies/ Sources/ Digital and Interactive Instructional Technology (if appropriate): – Please list all necessary
instructional supplies, materials, and sources. Make sure that these are clearly labeled and referenced throughout the lesson plan to enhance clarity.

 Appendix A: Discussion Elements Handout

 Appendix B: Slide Instructions for Partner Activity and Copy of Handout
 Appendix C: Mars Colony Group Discussion Sheet
 Appendix D: Individual Reflection Sheet

Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

Beginning Room Set Up: -How is the room set up when the students enter? Is there anything written on the board or projected on the screen? Are
their handouts, books, etc. that are laid out for students to pick up as they enter?

The room will be set up with its normal table and chair arrangement (four tables with four chairs at each table). Students will be asked to seat
themselves wherever they wish for the first part of class, as long as they can see the front of the room and the smartboard. Students will not
stay in these seats for the entirety of the lesson, but will eventually be asked to work in pairs, in small groups, and as a whole class.

I will be holding the Discussion Elements Handout (Appendix A) in order to give copies to students as they walk in the room.

Projected on the board at the front of the room is the same blank handout that students just received in paper form, and brief directions to
begin working with a partner for the next 5-7 minutes to fill out the charts as best they can:
“Please begin filling out the chart you received with your elbow partner. You will have 5-7 minutes to brainstorm as many
discussion elements as you can. We will discuss your ideas as a whole class afterward.”

Proactive Planning for Learning Differences: – What planned supports have you included to make the content accessible for all learners (i.e.,
groups of students and/or specific students) and to build upon learners’ diversity? Be sure any modifications are explicitly explained in the procedures/steps
outlined below.

Since some of my students, like David and Giulia, have learning disabilities or particular challenges, I have designed this lesson to have
scaffolding for all students. For those students who need more support, they can be paired with students with whom they have good
relationships and who have been good working partners in the past. I will actively monitor these pairings to ensure work is being done well
and cooperatively. I will assign pairs before students arrive and tell them to partner up as they come into the classroom. I have also provided
an example of how to fill out the chart on the Google Doc (Appendix B), which should help students get started in coming up with ideas for
how to fill out the chart themselves.

The group discussion handout (Appendix C) is intended to help those students who need more prompting and reminders during group
discussion, as it has a list of topics, questions, and response stems for them to use during group discussion. I will also be monitoring the
group discussion closely in case reminders for allowing everyone to participate are needed, or if the group needs a little bit of direction and a
boost of encouragement.

While many of our students have disabilities, they all have the ability to work in groups well when engaged and focused. Many of them also
enjoy completing work on their computers, so the final self-reflection Google Form activity (Appendix D) should be a good way to receive
feedback from all students, while allowing our students with learning differences to have a bit of computer time after some intense communal

Procedures/Steps in the Lesson: -- May follow a specific model (i.e., Direct Instruction, Jigsaw) or be more open-ended. Be sure to think about
what students will be doing during each step, in addition to what you are doing. Scripting and/or estimated time frames may or may not be included, but the
plan should be clear and explicit enough that another person would be able to teach from it.

I. Welcome and Initial Instructions (2 minutes)

As students enter the room, I will greet them by name and make points of connection with them, asking them how their day is going or about
their other interests, while handing them the Discussion Elements Handout (Appendix A). I will tell them to sit wherever they are most
comfortable, but near someone with whom they’ll be productive partners during the first activity. They will have 5-7 minutes to write down
at least one “looks like” and “sounds like” in each box of the chart with their elbow partners, knowing that we will come back together as a
group to talk about their contributions afterward.

Hey, Habitation Team! Are y’all ready for day three of our Mars project? Thanks for doing such a great job researching on Monday. I was
impressed with how many sources y’all found in your research and how creative your ideas were for getting started with our tasks. Today,
we’re going to start off with something a little different. Please take a seat next to someone you work well with, because you’ll be partnering
up for our first activity today. I’ve handed you a piece of paper that may be helpful to you later during our group discussion. It’s important
that you and your partner can remain focused for the first activity, since I’ll be having each pair report on some of their chart work when we
come back together as a whole group—so be productive, please!

II. Explain Handout Instructions and Importance (10 minutes, including partner work)

a. Introduce purpose of handout (5 minutes)_“In our team, we’re responsible for making sure 100 people can survive indefinitely
on Maris in the city we plan. Can someone tell me what ‘indefinitely’ means? [Try to call on students who don’t often raise their
hands if possible, affirming students for raising their hands respectfully.] Forever, that’s right. So, that means our job is super
important, and our team meetings need to be respectful and productive because we have a lot to do and we need to do it well.
Wouldn’t you want the people planning how to send you to Mars to work well as a team? Yeah, me, too! We are in charge of
creating a social contract for our colony. Does anyone know what a social contract is? [Wait for student responses, and affirm

Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

answers. If students do not recall their social contract lesson from the first weeks of school, remind them of the school contract they
signed that is hung in the hallway.] Awesome, that’s definitely a good start. Now, we’re going to learn a bit more about what it
takes for a community to negotiate successfully through discussion.

b. Partner Brainstorm of Respectful Conversations (5 minutes):

To start off, we are going to have a brief lesson on how to hold respectful and effective discussions. please turn to your elbow
partner and fill out the handout I gave you when you walked in for the next 5-ish minutes. The left column lists elements of
respectful discussions, and the two columns to the right ask you to describe what those elements actually look and sound like in a
real discussion. Keep in mind that we will have to create a social contract for our colony on Mars, so think about how some of
these elements might be helpful later in writing that contract! If you have any questions, please raise your hand, and I’ll come help
you. The directions are up on the board if you forget. [Slide Instructions for Partner Activity and Copy of Handout (Appendix
B) will be projected on the board.] Ok, get started, please! [Circulate around the room, checking that partner work is going
smoothly and answering questions as they come up. If students are getting stuck, give them some examples to help prompt them, or
ask them questions to prime their thinking. When the time is up, say “time’s up” in a clear voice and use the “silent llama” signal to
get kids’ attention and transition to the next activity.]

III. Mini-Lesson: Elements of Respectful, Effective Discussions (7-10 minutes)

“Ok, guys, finish entering your last thought on your chart. If you’re not quite finished, that’s ok. This was just a way to get y’all thinking
about what it looks and sounds like to have a respectful discussion. I want you to please take out a blank sheet of notebook paper and a
pencil or pen, and then look up at the board when you’re ready. [Make sure all students have their supplies out and ready before beginning.
If the class noise level is too high, wait silently until all students quiet down. The board will show the Google Doc (Appendix B). “Now,
we’re going to use your ideas from your partner brainstorm to help us list some aspects of our own team social contract. This can help us
start planning for our Mars social contract, too. So, imagine you are helping to decide how group discussions will work in our Mars colony.
Everything has to function smoothly to ensure the group’s survival on the new planet. What if someone got into an argument about naming
the space pigs and there was no system in place for making sure people could disagree respectfully? Let’s start writing down some ideas for
what we and our Mars colonists can do during discussions to make them good experiences. As I write things down on the board, please copy
them down on your notepaper. You will keep these in your binders. [Begin writing down students’ ideas, writing names next to them, and
circling or starring those that are similar or repeated. Emphasize the need to listen closely and raise hands, and remind students to give
everyone a chance to contribute.]

[After a few minutes of listening to and recording student responses, such as attentive body language and not interrupting one another, thank
students for their ideas and move into the next phase of the discussion.]

“This is an awesome list so far. Thank you, guys, for offering some really important ways to make sure we and our future Mars colonists can
talk together respectfully. Our next activity will involve a group discussion so we can start practicing the social contract we just created
together., We’re going to need to be in a circle big enough for everyone. Please rearrange the chairs and fold down the tables so that
everyone can sit. Let’s see if we can do this in one minute. Ready? Go. [Set a one-minute timer. Help students make sure there are enough
chairs for everyone and that no one is left out of the circle. Encourage them to work quickly if they’re dragging their feet!]

IV. Short Group Discussion: Mars Colony City Plan (10-12 minutes)

“That was awesome, y’all. Thanks for forming the circle so quickly. I’m passing around a sheet of paper with possible topics, questions, and
response stems for the next part of this lesson. You can take a few seconds now to quickly look it over. This is for you to use during
discussion if you get stuck trying to think of something to say. We’re going to practice having a respectful discussion about our Mars city by
ourselves now. You may use the discussion sheets, but try to come up with your own topics, questions, and answers first. [Check that every
student has a sheet of the Mars Colony Group Discussion Sheet (Appendix C) and know that they can use it if needed] Everyone good to
go? Awesome. I’m not going to be the main speaker in this discussion today; you are—unless I feel that I need to step in occasionally to help
remind y’all of our social contract. Now, who would like to start us off? You can talk about questions you have about our colony, an idea you
think is interesting, or a problem you foresee us having to solve in planning our city. [The three questions will be listed on the board to help
students jog their memories during discussion. Once a student volunteers, let students begin talking to one another. Interject if needed,
reminding students to piggyback off one another’s ideas, speak respectfully, and let everyone speak. If it looks like the discussion is stalling,
remind students to use their discussion sheets. Let the discussion go on for about 10 minutes and then gently call a halt.]

[While the discussion is happening, sit near the circle but not inside of it, and take notes on who is doing well in participating respectfully
and positively during discussion, and how particular students are contributing to the conversation. Review these notes later and assess who
may need to work on group discussion norms more fully later on. Affirm good group work behavior if interjection/facilitation is needed, and
briefly remind students of elements they can improve upon.]

Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

“Guys, that was so well done. I’m really impressed with how respectful you all were in that group discussion. You listened to one another,
offered ideas and different perspectives, used each other’s names, and I think we have some really good ideas to work with now. Draedon, I
loved that you were on task and kept your phone in your backpack. Anna and Gwen, y’all were so good about building off of one another’s
comments. And Camden, you disagreed with Carter, but you did it in a respectful, kind way! That’s a hard thing for anyone to do. I’m proud
of all of you. We have two more short activities for the day, and then it’ll be time for recess. Before we do that, can everyone please get up
out of their chair, wiggle their arms and legs around and do three small jumps in place? Thank you.” [Wait for everyone to settle back into
their seats before moving on to the final part of the lesson.]

V. Brief Writing Prompt (5-7 minutes)

“Ok, y’all, we have two more short activities for today, so I really need you to give these last 15 minutes of class your best attention. This
next activity is going to help us imagine what it would really be like to live with the same 100 people on Mars forever. One of the best ways to
imagine something that we’ve never experienced ourselves is to try to write a story about it. Please take out another blank piece of notebook
paper. For the next five minutes, I want you to write as much as you can about the following scenario: What would happen if aliens landed
on our Mars colony and the colonists had no experience with respectful group discussion? Or, you can write about what would happen if the
Mars colonists did know how to talk to aliens respectfully. [The scenario is written upon the whiteboard for students to refer back to during
their writing time if needed]. If you forget the prompt, you can jog your memory by looking up at the board. Be as creative as you want to
be! Maybe Mars is destroyed! Maybe the aliens steal the colonists’ pets! Maybe the aliens come and live with the colonists on Mars! Does
everyone understand the prompt? [If students are having trouble grasping the scenario, rephrase the prompt. Check for understanding with a
thumbs up-thumbs down check-in.] Awesome, you have one minute to think, and then I’m setting the timer for five minutes. I want to see your
pencils moving for that entire five-minute period. When the timer goes off, please hand me your papers. Ready to write? Ok, get started.

[Give students one minute to think over the scenario, and then begin the five-minute timer (just search for it on Google, so it’s up on the
board for them to see). Walk around the room as students write to make sure they’re on-task and to answer any questions they have. If it
looks like students need a bit more time, give them an extra minute or two to finish up their paragraphs. Wait until everyone has turned in
their papers to move onto the final activity.]

VI. Individual Reflections (5 minutes)

“Awesome work, y’all, I really appreciate how focused you were during our writing today. The last thing you need to do before we leave is
reflect on your contributions to the group discussion and partner work today. Reflecting on our own performance is one of the most valuable
ways to help ourselves grow and set new goals. We’re always trying to do better than we did the day before, me included. Please take out
your laptops and go to your email. I just sent you guys a link to a Google Form. [Students should see the Individual Reflection Sheet
(Appendix D) in their inboxes. If they don’t, find alternate ways of having them fill out the Google Form. If necessary, they can write their
answers on a plain sheet of notebook paper and turn it in before they leave.] It shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes or so to complete, but
you can’t leave until you write something for each question. As we work, please keep the noise level at a minimum so that we can all think
clearly and work efficiently.

[After students finish their Google Forms, take a few seconds to affirm the good work they did in class that day.] “Guys, y’all showed a huge
amount of maturity and kindness today during our lesson. Thank you for taking this work seriously. It’s so important that we find ways to
work cooperatively together, and that we understand how to help our Mars colonists work effectively and productively in their group
discussions. Y’all are awesome. Go get some energy out at recess!”

Materials Appendix (if appropriate): Please include the slides, images, links to texts, handouts, etc. that are used in this lesson. They should be
“Student Ready”

Appendix A: Discussion Elements Handout

Respectful Discussion Looks Like Sounds Like


Active Listening

Active Participation

Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

Ask Questions for


Piggybacking Off of Others’


Disagreeing Constructively

Focused on Discussion

Supporting Opinions with


Encouraging Others


Appendix B:

View slides and blank handout here.

Appendix C:

Habitation Team: Possible Group Discussion Topics, Questions, and Response Stems

Possible Topics:
 Types of food crops to grow on Mars
 Kinds of clothing and footwear for Mars colony residents
 Natural habitats that may flourish on Mars in biospheres
 Which animals to bring to Mars

Possible Questions:
 How will we navigate personal disagreements in the space colony?
 What are the temperature extremes on Mars?

Universal Lesson Plan Template – Curry Secondary Program

 How would dust storms affect city structures and people?

 Where will the main water supply come from?
 How will jobs and roles in the city be assigned or chosen?
 What will the city look like?
 What kind of diet would be best for Mars inhabitants?

Response Stems:
 “I really like your point, [name]. Have you thought of………………………………………?”
 “Can you tell me more about…………………………………………………………………?”
 “Can you explain your perspective on………………………………………………………..?”
 “Thank you for sharing that idea, [name]! I have a different perspective on that
 “Cool idea! I was also thinking that …………………………………………….”

Appendix D:

Link to group work individual reflection in Google Docs:

Source: Adapted from G. Gibbs (1994), Learning in Teams: A Student Manual, Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Centre for Staff,
p. 24., p.60