Expand a Lesson from 15 to 45 minutes!

Have you ever faced a lesson too short for the time allotted?  This technique involves the students from the beginning and to the end of the lesson.

Begin by challenging the students to contribute to the overview. Next, present the topic/show the film/read from the book, or have the students read the assignment. At the end of the class time, the students share the ideas that relate to the overview. Summarize what is learned. The following is an example of how this process works.


VIGNETTE A substitute for the music class found there was only a 15-minute video on Bach for a forty-five-minute class. “What do I do for the rest of the time?” she pleaded. I knew next to nothing about Bach. This teaching process was shared.

I suggested that she put the words ‘Bach’s Life’ in the middle of the board. Then put a key question at the top: “What can be learned about Bach’s life?” *

Next, I told her to ask the students to contribute key ideas – write them evenly spaced around ‘Bach’s Life.’ The ideas included – where born; when born; parents; marriage; famous for; problems; when died. The open-ended question kept them focused. About ten minutes was enough time to so this.

While watching the video, she asked the students to record keys words/facts.

At the end of the video, she asked for their answers and recorded the keywords on the board. As time ran out, the students just said their answers.

With three minutes left of the class, the substitute teacher asked a summary open-ended question, “Why do we remember Bach today?” and that was the end of the lesson. When the class was over, they still had ideas to contribute.

Success was in the process, and by using this process the teacher succeeded.



  • This diagram has many names. ‘Concept map’ and ‘mind map’ are two.
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