Monday, October 21, 2013

Managing Mastery: Structure

The most common question that I am asked when presenting at conferences and workshops goes something along these lines:

"I recognize the value of mastery learning, but how can I practically implement such a different approach from what I and the students are familiar with?"

I have written three previous posts about designing Flipped-Mastery units (Overview, Essential Questions & Learning Goals, Objectives & Learning Tasks), but I have not gone into much depth regarding classroom implementation.  

This is therefore the first in a series of posts that offer tips and suggestions for managing mastery learning based upon my experiences over the past three years. 

Topics in this series will include: Unit Structure (below), Establishing Routines, Standards Based-Grading, Pacing, Gamification & more.   If there are any other topics or questions that you would like addressed, please let me know and I will gladly include a post!


First, try to present the unit structure to students as early in the process as possible.  I actually provide students with an "objectives" grid that maps everything out for them.   For example, last year I provided students with a hard copy of each unit document such as this World War II objectives grid.  This year, they are storing digital copies of these by accessing the view-only document and making a copy of it into their Google Drive. 

Students are expected to have this document (whether hard copy or digital) easily accessible to them at all times throughout the unit.  This enables them to actively monitor their progress by entering their scores and checking off all of the objectives that they had mastered thus far.

It is also important to structure each day so that there are clear expectations.  For instance, a typical day in our flipped-mastery class is structured like this:

Students Greeted at the Door (4 Minute Passing Period)

Students Pick up a Daily Learning Journal Sheet - Now called Mission Progress (1 Minute)

Students "Swipe In" on the SMART Board - More on This in a Later Post  (1 Minute)

Students Engage in the Warm-Up Prompt (3-4 Minutes)

Students Monitor Unit Progress  (1 Minute)

Students Set a Daily Goal (1 Minute)

Teacher Leads Class Discussion and/or Large Group Direct Instruction Based Upon the Warmup (5-10 Minutes)

Students Work Individually/Collaboratively to Master the Unit Objectives While Teacher Helps Any and Everyone Who Needs It  (30-35 Minutes)

Students Reflect Upon Their Learning (3-5 Minutes)


Here is a quick video that I created early last year that demonstrates much of this structure in action. (Click Here to View on YouTube)


The next post will focus on developing routines for students to make the most out of each day in your mastery-style course.  We will also get a chance hear from several students themselves who engaged in Flipped-Mastery on a daily basis.

As mentioned above, please provide suggestions for future posts based upon your questions and interests! Twitter @Mr_Driscoll or

COMPLETE Flipped-Mastery Article Series