General planning framework for a general teaching model


The purpose of this article is to describe the development and use of a general planning framework for a general teaching methodology, model, or procedure; to identify and outline or map information to make decisions to plan and teach and reflect on the quality our decisions.

To achieve this we consider four planning categories;

  1. Quality learning environment & atmosphere
  2. Intended learnings
  3. Methodology, syntax, or instructional steps to facilitate learning (instruction)
  4. Assessment What, when, and how to assess & evaluate learners and Teacher assessment of instruction

Then a frameworks is provided to document and connected this information in an outline or map to use for the next step of planning, the more familiar lesson plan and unit plan.


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 learning with a consistent methodology, then what kinds of information needs to be included?

This article explores information, which can serve as a foundation to meet the diverse needs of learners. And is flexible enough that it can be inserted into different, more traditional linear kinds of procedures know as lesson and unit plans.

Used with different instructional procedures or syntax to meet a variety of needs for learners in different situations.

Let's start with a review of the kinds of information to include.

A personal knowledge base and conceptual framework includes a variety of information to consider when planning, let's consider four broad areas from which information is used to plan and teach.

  1. Learning environment and atmosphere. How to achieve a positive classroom atmosphere conducive to motivating all types of learners to facilitate life long learning. A positive social emotional environment 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 and abilities with multiple ways of understanding, representing, and communicating information as they move from novice to expert.
  3. Method, procedures, 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 back and forth to connect information and varify its accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Each of these areas are unpacked and explored next. With more information linked in pedagogy.


Over fifty years ago Karplus created the learning cycle methodology based on a constructivist learning theory to use in the SCIS curriculum.

More recently a Universal design for learning (UDL) framework was created.

While this planning framework may be used with any instructional methodology, model, syntax, or procedure it is influenced by these.

While exploring this general planning framework, consider how information from these ideas are related. Enjoy!

Planning categories

Quality learning environment & atmosphere (1)

The quality of the classroom environment 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, communication, and assessment.

Hopefully, the decisions made will create a positive classroom atmosphere, which is necessary to facilitate 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 the environment, intended learnings, selected activities, procedures, communication, and methodologies interact to create positive social emotional experiences, enhanced communication, provide support systems to nurture goal oriented actions where students chose to learn the selected topics, and conflict resolution when necessary. Resulting in achieving the educational goals along with a love of learning and desire to be life long learners.

Additionally, to learning specific content, learning should teach how to participate in the practices of creating knowledge by using inquiry to create knowledge in different subjects along with the dispositions and habits of mind needed to be successful in understanding different subjects and how to inquire and create knowledge in each along with 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 and challenges.

Listening 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 a 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. Learning which is represented in multiple ways with multiple media can communicated in multiple ways and languages.

Intended learnings (2)

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 a teacher or politically mandated. 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 abilities, 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 and facilitate learning, which is included in good planning by connecting intended learning to 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 communicated as:

Connections and relationships of intented learnings: to other planning areas should also be included.

The following include examples of different ways areas are connected among topics, focus questions, ideas, and subjects.

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

  • Standard documents to review topics and intended learning for planning.

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

Suggestions related to intended learnings

  • It is important to empower learners, when possible to make choices.
  • If they are to select a topic and scope of learning for that topic, then a step with a process must be included in the procedure for them to select a topic and procedural details to include how they, with different degrees of teacher guidance, will establish the topic, related content, the depth of their learning goals and initial steps to implement learning.
  • When topics and intended learnings are predetermined, then there is no need for steps in the instructional procedure for making those decisions. However, since learners might not have a strong personal commitment for a topic, that is not of their choice, then consideration for how they might be motivated to accept the topic and its content as important and necessary for them to learn should be included. Challenges, focus questions, surveys, puzzles, problems, relating the information to the learner's culture and personal experiences are possible ways to achieve this.
  • A level of understanding at which to begin. When a topic is unpacked and information for students to learn is described and defined, then the unpacked information is compared to the learner's background information and their developmental levels to decide an appropriate level for all learners to begin to learn. This information informs the first experiences learners have and where to start the instructional procedure and suggests a progression for the instructional procedure. The initial level of understanding and the expected outcomes can inform or be informed by the scoring guides or rubrics and to verify congruence with planning, instruction, assessment, and outcomes as described in the scoring guides or rubrics.

Method, procedure, and activities for experiences to facilitate understanding (teaching & instruction) (3)

An instructional method includes activities and a procedure or syntax to sequence instructional activities or experiences and prepares teachers to make better decisions and achieve better results. Example is the learning cycle as an instructional methodology, model, or theory.

While there are different teaching syntax or procedures that can be included when planning, each teacher uses, their own unique personal implementation to create their own style of teaching.

However, all procedures have similar properties. The following general model is presented here to describe common features and conditions.

Information t0 considered for inclusion in the procedure for a model or syntax is explored as a plot for a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Characteristics of a procedure 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, or problem, relating to a current event or the learner's culture and lives.
    2. Diagnostic assessment. Use the same activity or other as a 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 to begin 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 personal experiences, 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 procedures, syntx, and 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:

  • What learners are expected to learn.
  • How the information is of value or relevant.
  • How it fits with the learners’ present level of development and understanding.
  • Knowing how learner's achievement will be observed, assessed, and evaluated throughout the teaching sequence as they attain higher levels of understanding.
  • How to evaluate the effect of instruction on the fly to make adjustments based on the learner's progress
  • How the atmosphere contributes to the over goals of education.
  • How the teacher's educational philosophies fit with the plan and implementation.
  • How the social and emotional needs of the learners will be met.
  • How the teacher will assess their overall success.

To avoid exclusion of important information, include it in a planning framework to make it part of a planning procedure.

Assessment (4)

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 procedures, steps, and strategies to facilitate learning.

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

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:

  • The content
  • The social systems
  • The communication and reaction of the learners
  • The support systems available for learning

Then for each of these reflect and analyze the effects the plan and instruction (with respect to the teaching procedure: model and 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 for planning.

  • Planning begins with a focus on content and intended outcomes.
  • While content is important it is also important learners learn content in a manner that develops their love of learning and self-efficacy to learn. They must see its power for understanding the world and achieving their life goals in a manner that cares for other people and a sustainable Earth.
  • To achieve this we must use our philosophy of education to guide the implementation of instructional procedures to achieve our educational goals. Goals which are beyond subject content and are useful in facilitating learning in all subject areas as well as other areas.
  • Consider ideas that develop a positive learning environment and atmosphere to provide learners with the habits of mind, social skills, emotional needs, nurturing, support, communication skills, principles of reaction and conflict resolution, for sustainable communities, and a sustainable Earth.
  • Assessment is the key to understanding how learners are learning and how well teachers are facilitating their learning. The four ways to think about assessment (diagnostic, formative, summative, and generative) are extremely helpful to plan for and facilitate learning.
  • Teacher reflection is the key for continual improvement.

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.

General planning framework for a general teaching model

With the information above, use a procedure that includes the following actions. The sequence in which they are done can vary. Often working on one, moving to another, and returning to a previous one until satisfied a comprehensive plan is ready to implement.

Procedure for planning

  1. Identification of a topic or big idea (generalization or concept) important for learners 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 learners 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. Their 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 other 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 their construction of big ideas using the related information.
  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 learners' development.
  8. Sequence the activities: Start with an activity (discrepant event) that give learners opportunities to focus on the ideas and experience cognitive dissonance. Continue to identify activities as opportunities for learners 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 insert instructional procedures, syntax, or strategiess for the sequence and activities as helpful.
  10. Consider how all interactions among learners, materials, environment, and ideas will create a positive learning atmosphere.
  11. Consider what procedures and actions to focus on for instructional assessment and reflection.

Creating a planning document

Planning map categories related to a general teaching model

  1. Focus area, topic, or big ideas selection.
  2. Focus questions to connect to the learner's life in a way to motivate, focus, and guide learning.
  3. Perceptual information of learners as visual gut reaction way of knowing or naive ideas which may or may not be misconceptions.
  4. Observations learners can make to use as initial information or ideas, to use as facts, ideas, concepts, and generalizations … to reason with.
  5. Facts and properties of information used to construct understanding.
  6. Relationship, concepts, and generalizations are how the facts and properties are related with reasoning to construct big ideas.
  7. Transformations that bridge or transformation that connect observations and reasoning to explain construct of concepts and generalizations. Including definitions, ideas, explanations, and procedures in different media, such as charts, graphs, maps, webs, illustrations, outlines, classifications that combine facts, concepts, generalization with reasons and explanations to conclude or construct concepts and generalizations.
  8. Tasks and activities as opportunities for learners to construct information about the topic or ideas. Opportunities to learn.
  9. Real world value & application is identified that learners may know and will be able to use so their learning experience will be recognized as valuable.
  10. Assessment levels to identify objectives or outcomes to demonstrate learning of skills or conceptualization of concepts. Levels of a sequence of logical progression toward mastery or increased complexity learners will demonstrate as they move from novice to expert.
  11. Instructional assessment to assess and evaluate teaching.
  12. Classroom atmosphere to anticipate the result of all interactions, social, emotional, environmental, content and non content to create a learning environment. A healthy learning environment, characterized as a positive caring risk free space where participants engage in learning free to communicate and believe there are support systems available to nurture their actions to learn the intended learnings in a way that will provide them with the skills and desire to be life long learners.

Sample planning map - annotated

Planning framework



Final reflections

  1. Are there sufficient opportunities for learners to observe supporting information needed to construct their understanding?
  2. How will the expected learnings connect with the learner's previous lived experiences and understandings?
  3. Are the expected outcomes at or slightly above the learner's development level?
  4. How will the information learners use to construct the conceptualizations be manipulated to resolve cognitive dissonance, cognitive conflict, or create equilibrium?
  5. What transformations, or bridges, will be used to construct the conceptualizations from the observed information with reasoning.
  6. Are there ways to analyze the learned information and explore its limits and applications?
  7. Are there multiple opportunities for learners to use observations to communicate explanations, properties, concepts, relationships, and other connections of information and ideas such as representations, explanatory stories, procedures, diagrams, pictures, and models with different media?
  8. Are the outcome levels on the scoring guides or rubrics described as observable?
  9. Do the outcomes include levels to indicate the different possible ways learners can understand the ideas?
  10. Are there descriptions of how the data can be applied, extended, manipulated, and lead to generalizations and real life use?


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