My science teacher friend Cindy sometimes asks me for lesson ideas, but today, late on a Tuesday afternoon, all I can offer is a vacant stare. She’s lucky this zombie doesn’t try to bite her. I’m exhausted. I’ve got n-o-t-h-i-n-g.
I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and after a few moments of breathing, my brain calms, and out pops, “E.A.T.S!”
“What the heck is E.A.T.S?” she asks. Cindy has always been too sweet for cussing.
E.A.T.S. is an acronym that helped me plan my first year. I’ve been using it for years! Here’s how it works:
E stands for the essential question or objective. What do I want my students to know? In Cindy’s case, she wants her class to describe the planets based upon their characteristics. She writes that down in her plan book: “E: What are the characteristics of the planets in our solar system?”
A represents the activating strategy–the “hook” to get students engaged. I like to use questions such as “What do you already know about…?”. Cindy decides to show the planets with a slideshow, and see if her students can name any of them. She writes, “A: Engage students with slide show of planets and have them try to name them.”
T means teach…because at some point we teach! How do we teach the skill, concept, or information? Since the students first need to learn about the planets, Cindy decides on a student-centered research project using a graphic organizer to compile information about the planets.
S comes at the end of the lesson representing summary or summative assessment. How will Cindy summarize this lesson and know her students are on the right track? She decides to show the slideshow again (naming and describing the planets) and have students record their responses. Written responses show her what the class learned and help her decide how much they need to practice or review the next day.
Even with a brain like mine that expires most days at 2:00 p.m., E.A.T.S always works for lesson planning. Mnemonic devices are one of many learning techniques to help us retain knowledge. Even teachers need a little help!