General Teaching Model and planning


The purpose of this article is to describe the thinking of an investigation of the development of a general teaching model (procedure) based on the information educators use to make decisions to inform their planning and implementation of instruction to facilitate learning. The understanding of a general model provides a foundational framework or outline to organize information to plan and implement instructional with a higher level of confidence. A model from which an outline and framework can be created to guide planning and teaching.

Findings will suggest steps, outline, map, and procedure to use to better plan pedagogy, teaching and learning.


A general teaching model is a procedure to guide the design, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of instruction, which is applicable to all levels of education, all subject matter, and for any length of instructional time.
David T. Miles & Roger E. Robinson, 1969


If a general teaching model is a procedure to suggest information to guide the decisions professional educators make to plan activities and instructional steps to implement with an instructional methodology to facilitate learning (teach), then what kinds of information needs to be considered?

Let's explore different kinds of information that would be helpful to use in a general model, which can serve as a foundation to meet the many different needs of learners. A general model, which is flexible enough that different procedures or syntax can be inserted to meet different needs. Where an inductive syntax (e.g. learning cycle), or a directed instruction syntax can be inserted to meet the variety of needs for learners in specific situations.

Drawing from a personal knowledge base and conceptual framework we can reason there are the following four broad areas from which information is used when planning and teaching.

  1. Learning environment atmosphere. How to achieve a positive classroom atmosphere conducive to motivating learners to facilitate life long learning. A positive social emotional systems with principles of interactions where participants communicate freely, support and nurture each other beyond learning of the intended topics. Where they can become independent learners to plan and implement their own learning.
  2. Intended learnings - identify what is to be learned or taught to be literate and educated. Includes the ways people have created understanding about the world and how learners can construct that information across a range of ages with the typical ways of understanding as they move from novice to expert.
  3. Method, procedure, and activities for learners to experience to facilitate learning.
  4. Ongoing assessment to guide teaching and learning.

While these areas are numbered, a plan can be created in any order. It is possible to start with ideas in any of the areas and proceed in any order from one to another and back to previous to coordinate information.

Let's explore each of these areas to unpack more specifically the kinds of information from which educators draw.

Quality atmosphere.

The quality of the classroom atmosphere is created by the kinds of interactions resulting from our decisions. Decisions made based on our educational philosophies and informed by our knowledge base and conceptual framework, implemented through the selection of intended learnings, teaching method, procedures, activities, and assessment.

Hopefully, the decisions made will create a positive classroom atmosphere, which is necessary to facilitate learning of the intended learnings. However, the planned content is not the only thing learners are learning, no matter how much detail is included in the planning.

Students are learning about learning, the value of education, and developing dispositions related to all kinds of interactions in which they are participating. Therefore, it is helpful to consider how intended learnings, selected activities, procedure, model, and methodology interact to create positive social emotional learning, enhance communication and conflict resolution, provide support systems to nurture goal oriented actions students chose to learn the intended topics and in these other areas. Resulting in achieving the educational goals along with a love of learning and desire to be life long learners.

Among these other ares is learning how to participate in the practices of creating knowledge by using processes to create knowledge in different subjects and the dispositions and habits of mind needed to be successful in understanding those different subjects and their perspective for providing explanations about the world. As well as being able to use critical thinking to make decisions and creatively solve problems to create a better world where we care for each other, work for sustainable communities, and the well being of a sustainable Earth.

Positive atmospheres are created by knowing the needs of the learners and providing experiences to meet those needs. And that starts by challenging the learns with appropriate focus questions, challenges, listens to what they know, and using a flexible teaching model and activities that build on their current understanding and appropriately progress to improve depth of understanding by being prepared to make decisions on the fly, which are either planned or congruent with the plan to facilitate learning. It is thinking about how to organize and sequence the intended learnings to move from the learners level of understanding to higher levels of understanding and achievement. All within a social systems open to critical thinking, with principles of communication that are encouraging, cooperative, and support collaboration that nurtures learners in humanistic ways that result in productive learning. Productive learning for long term success beyond traditional content as described in our philosophies and goals for education.

Intended learnings

What is to be learned or taught

It's fairly obvious learning requires information to use to construct knowledge, process skills, positive dispositions, and perspectives of knowledge.

The selection of topics and goals, objectives, and outcomes for the intended learning is usually made by the the teacher. A selection influenced, in different degrees, by national, state, or local level politics. Regardless of the influences and degree of choice afforded the teacher in the selection of intended learnings; and the freedom for what and how to teach. It is still necessary that each teacher unpacks the necessary and sufficient information for each topic to be knowledgeable of its structure, its ways of being understood in the world, how learners construct that understanding across a range of ages, and how it can be understood at different levels from novice to expert.

Comprehensive plans and other curriculum documents represent this information in a variety of ways. Ways to inform instruction to facilitate learning, which is included in good planning by connecting intended learning to the other areas of planning.

Intended learnings communicate what is to be learned, the information used to construct its understanding and skill levels to understand and use it.

Information which is often communicate in the following ways:

Connections and relationships of intented learnings: to the other planning areas should also be indicated when planning. The following include examples of different ways areas are connected in and among topics, focus questions, ideas, and subjects.

Many organizations have collected combinations of these and published them as.

The quality of information, selected from these resources and elsewhere will determine success of teaching and learning.

Suggestions related to intended learnings

Method, procedure, and activities for experiences to facilitate understanding (teaching & instruction)

An instructional model includes activities and a procedure or syntax to sequence instructional activities or experiences to prepares teachers to make better decisions and achieve better results.

While there are different teaching models, whatever procedures or model, a teacher uses, their personal implementation creates their own unique version. However, every model has many similar properties. The following general model is presented here to describe common procedures and conditions that are in all models and known to improve instruction and learning.

Information that could and should be considered for inclusion in any model or syntax is explore as a plot for a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Characteristics of a syntax for a general model

  1. Beginning
    (Consider how all interactions affect the quality of the classroom atmosphere)
    1. Provide a focus on the topic by using information from planning what is to be learned or taught. Like a focus question, challenge, problem, relating to a current event or the learner's culture and lives.
    2. Diagnostic assessment. Use an activity or pretest to probe the learner's understanding of the topic as specified in the intended learnings and start collecting assessment information to use to make a decision on what level for beginning instruction that matches the learner's abilities. Level of understanding to begin. How, when, and what to assess and evaluate.
    3. Use information from what is to be learned or taught, how, when, and what to assess and evaluate, and a level of understanding at which to begin to assess what learners understand. And verify the accuracy of the planned level of understanding at which to begin.
  2. Middle
    (Consider how all interactions affect the quality of the classroom atmosphere)
    1. Focus learner's attention on what they know from the activities and experienced previously, particularly in the beginning steps. Set goals to describe possibilities for learning about the topic and describe activities that will provide opportunities to study and learn, as planned.
    2. Use information from a variety of models or strategies to decide what might be successful to provide a sequence of opportunities for learners to construct their learning for the topic and how to include appropriate support (scaffolding, optimal mismatch, formative assessment, ) from a procedure, syntax, or steps to take to facilitate understanding of the desired learnings (instruction) with appropriate activities, to facilitate all aspects of the intended learnings.
  3. End
    (Consider how all interactions affect the quality of the classroom atmosphere)
    1. Continually decide How, when, and what to evaluate with the purpose of learners having the ability to take their learning and apply it in the world outside the classroom and the self-efficacy to do so successfully.
    2. Implement the ending of a procedure, syntax, or steps to facilitate understanding of the desired intended learnings (instruction), with the purpose of not only assuring learners have the ability to take their learning and apply it in the world outside the classroom, but the self-efficacy to do so successfully. Also that they are aware of what the practices and processes of the discipline they used for their learning is and know how they can use if for other topics with similar perspectives. They should also review the attitudes, values, and habits of mind associated with the success they had and how they benefited them and could also benefit them in future situations.

Some may believe a list of steps is the totality of a teaching model or syntax. However, if a syntax or teaching model only includes procedural information and activities, then all the information and possibilities we have been describing may not contribute to the decision making.

Information that may be missing can include:

To avoid exclusion of this information, it can be included in the intended learnings, learning atmosphere, and assessment.


Learner assessment: How, when, and what to assess learning

After a topic is selected and information for the topic is unpacked, analyzed, organized, and described, we can begin to match the different ways information can be accessed to fit the learner's present understandings and move to meet their specific learning needs. Using this information to select instructional experiences, activities, select instructional models or syntaxes and describe procedures, steps, and strategies to facilitate learning.

Assessment needs to be embedded in the selected experiences and procedures from which decisions can be made to inform learner's and the teacher's decisions. Assessment in four ways: diagnostic, formative, summative, and generative needs to be included at appropriate times in the procedures or syntax of the model.

While it's possible any assessment task, activity, or question might fit all four categories, there are good reasons to consider how assessment varies in each step of an instructional model.

Teacher assessment of instruction

Outstanding teachers are continuously reflecting on their actions and how they facilitate learning. Educators reflect on how well they plan and instruct periodically and use that information to adjust the decisions they make. They do so before, during and after interacting with learners. Different questions and instruments can be used to check the comprehensiveness of this reflection.


Select a set of ideas. Use the ideas to analyze the effects each will have on nurturing learners actions in and beyond the intended topics and the effects they have on instruction with the teaching model.

For instance. Assume the following ideas are selected:

Then for each of these reflect and analyze the effects the plan and instruction (with respect to the teaching model or syntax) have on nurturing learning in and beyond the intended topics..

Bringing it all together

Documents can be created to communicate all the information referenced here.

Let's review key points.

The identification of these four areas as critical for planning and instruction have been investigated and information identified, which can be used to better inform pedagogy, teaching and learning. These findings suggest the following steps, outline, map, and procedure to use to plan and implement teaching and learning.

Planning outline, map for a general model to Facilitate learning

Using the above information a procedure to include the information follows:

Procedure for planning

  1. Identification of a topic or big idea (generalization or concept) important for students to know and relevant to their every day existence. May reference the standards or curriculum for suggestions.
  2. Unpack the big idea (generalization or concept) by describing all facts, properties, concepts, and relationships necessary for students to construct the big idea, to explain it well, what it is and isn't, and how it is used in real life. Consider the learners' developmental levels. The age and previous experiences, which will impact how they will be able to understand and conceptualize the facts, properties, concepts and generalizations.
  3. Identify and describe possible learner's initial perceptions, which may be partially accurate or misconceptions.
  4. Identify introductory ideas. Focus questions, initial assessment, may be problems to solve, discrepant events, and ideas for activities to focus learner's thinking and diagnose their initial understandings.
  5. Review all this information and sequence it starting with the initial perceptions or learners' existing understandings, discovered in an initial assessment activity, and identify activities to use from the lowest level or initial perceptions to the highest level of understandings expected of learners for the big idea and related ideas.
  6. Use the sequence (hierarchy or trajectory) of information along with developmental theories (child and adolescent or historical development of subject matter) to consolidate and organize levels of understandings to use for assessment (scoring guides or rubrics).
  7. Identify any additional activities as opportunities for learners to refine their learning from their present understanding and move toward achieving greater understanding for the big ideas or learning goals and outcomes. Matching activities to the different facts, properties, concepts, and generalizations checking to see if all necessary information will be available for learners to construct the identified big idea and related ideas with sufficient depth and breadth relative to the students' development.
  8. Sequence the activities: Start with an activity (discrepant event) that give students opportunities to focus on the ideas and experience cognitive dissonance. Continue to identify activities as opportunities for students to construct all the necessary ideas for the big idea. If the plan includes multiple concepts, repeat this procedure for each one, and finally activities that demonstrate the relationships of the concepts to create relationships or generalizations.
  9. Identify and note any instructional model or syntax with procedures for the sequence and activities as needed.

Creating a planning document

Planning map categories related to a general teaching model

  1. Focus area, topic, or big ideas
  2. Focus questions - to motivate, focus, and guide learning.
  3. Perceptual information - what students know (visual gut reaction way of knowing. Naive ideas which may or may not be misconceptions.
  4. Observations made by students for which initial information or ideas are derived to use as facts, ideas, concepts, generalizations … to reason with.
  5. Facts and properties are information used to construct
  6. Relationship, concepts, and generalizations are how the facts and properties are related for big ideas.
  7. Transformations - bridges or transformations are charts, graphs, maps, webs, illustrations, outlines, classifications that combine facts, concepts, generalization with reasons and explanations for concluding or constructing the concepts and generalizations. These connect the observations and reasoning used to construct concepts and generalizations (definitions, ideas, and explanations)
  8. Tasks and activities - opportunities for students to construct information about the topic or ideas. Opportunities to learn.
  9. Real world value & application - identify how students are going to use the information or the value it will provide by learning or conceptualizing the it.
  10. Assessment levels - what objectives or outcomes demonstrate learning of skills or conceptualization of concepts. Levels of a sequence of logical progression toward mastery or increased complexity learners will demonstrate is move from novice to expert.
  11. Instructional assessment - how to assess and evaluate teaching, and
  12. Classroom atmosphere - the result of of all interactions, content and non content. Creations of social emotional systems, principles of reactions of participants communication, the support systems available, and the effects they have on nurturing student actions in and beyond the intended topics (such as social emotional learning) and the effects they have on instruction with their implementation.


Sample general planning map annotated

Blank framework

Final reflections

  1. Are there sufficient opportunities for students to observe the information needed to construct their understanding?
  2. How will the information students use to construct the conceptualizations be manipulated to resolve cognitive dissonance, cognitive conflict, or create equilibrium?
  3. What transformations or bridges will be used to join the observed information with reasoning to construct the conceptualizations (ideas), communicate what it is, analyze it, and work with it to find its limits?
  4. Are the outcomes students will communicate that represent their understanding at their development level?
  5. Are there opportunities for students to use observations to explain, properties, concepts, relationships, and other connections of information and ideas such as representations, explanatory stories, procedures, and models?
  6. Are the outcome levels on the scoring guides or rubrics described as observable?
  7. Do the outcomes include levels to indicate the different possible ways students can understand the ideas?
  8. Are there descriptions of how the data can be applied, extended, manipulated, and lead to generalizations and real life use?


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