How To Keep Lesson Design Simple, But Powerful


It’s simple really. Use the Power of Three when designing lessons.

The Power of Three (also called the Rule of Three) is the idea that when we group things in threes they are more doable, more memorable, and more fun.

It helps me keep things simple, but powerful.

In this blog, I want to show you how to use the Power of Three to design lessons.

Stick to 3 or fewer student directed activities per class

I do a lot of station rotation in Chemistry and I found that a bell ringer activity followed by three station activities is just about the maximum most of my students can focus on and do well before their minds get tired. Sure there are outliers; the lean mean learning machines and the students who struggle for many reasons. But, I find that sticking to just three activities is a happy median. It provides students with the right balance of time, learning, movement, and breaks.

I structure each lesson so students have 3 activities to accomplish and 3 concepts or fewer to learn and understand (some activities may reinforce the same concept). They get to move at least three times and get 3 brain breaks in between activities. This stimulates increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain as well as allows a quick mental rest before more focused brain activity. Additionally, most students perceive accomplishing 3 things as mission (very) possible.

Repeat 3 Times

One and done is a recipe for regurgitation.

Be intentional in designing lessons so that students get to process important concepts at least 3 times. Some things may require more processing. It is also crucial to space the practice out to aid memory and understanding.

When front loading at the beginning of class, compress the directions or instruction to 3 points. List 1, 2, and 3 first. Then, expand on each point. Finally, restate 1, 2, and 3 briefly. Do the same when presenting, but make sure to keep the presentation short. My advice is avoid or keep lectures to 10 minutes or less. We like hearing ourselves talk too much. Students? Not so much.

Less (Three) Is More

The Power of Three works well for me. It is important to stay flexible though. There are difficult concepts we teach that require more processing than others, so we might choose to focus on one at a time. There may be times when you feel you can cover 4 or 5 in the span of one period. Try it! Just make sure you get feedback and assess if your students are learning, understanding, and remembering.

Don’t forget to review key several times before you give the summative assessment. Give students the opportunity to process them at least 3 times through activities you design. Make sure this practice is spaced out. Mix it up to involve as many senses as possible while learning.

Most of the time, 3 or less is a good rule. There’s power in three. Slow down and remember that less is more. Apply the Power of Three and you will see.

You have the power to change lives. Use it often.

Hey, I’m Oskar.

My mission is to change the world of education (but not only) by providing teachers and parents with the tools that empower them to provide and advocate for the best education for their kids.

I teach Learning How to Learn and other Success Skills skills using brain science. Check out my blog for more articles, visuals, and lessons you can use in the classroom.


I doubt there is any single definite method to produce better learning. It is up to the teacher to find out which method works best with every class. For instance I enjoyed the opportunity to simplify Algebra, the dreaded course for young and returning students. I would do this by asking them about going to the store to buy , say, 6 apples at 15 cents each, plus 8 oranges at 10 cents each, and pay for it with a five dollar bill and get the correct change. The whole class will always answer- YES. I can tell them, then, that they can do algebra, and point out that all we do in Algebra is call the apples (X) and the oranges (Y). I use things like this, and insist on a proper approach, and finally, an independent check of results, and this method appears to work.

Hi ,
Awesome indeed. But could you mention the duration of time for each lesson.
Usually I use a 3-part lesson plan for all my lessons with my students. Of course, the three-part lesson plan is not new. I learnt it from other experts as most of us do.
The three-part lesson means:
Part 1:[b] Engage[/b] the students with exciting and curiosity raising activity. Let them understand the lesson objectives and let them decide on the criteria for achieving the objectives.

Part 2: Give at least three activities for a thirty-minute lesson. Activity 1: [b]Exploration[/b] , Activity 2: Explanation[b][/b] and Activity 3: [b]Elaboration[/b]. During these learning sessions, I encourage them to use digital tools and technology to gather, analyze, summarize and disseminate information.

Part 3: Let students reflect on what they have learnt, where they struggle, what they find it difficult, what are their weakness and strengths, how much they enjoyed the lesson, and [b]evaluate[/b] them with a self-assessment test.

My teaching sessions usually span 30 to 60 minutes. For a 30 minutes lesson, it is structured in such a manner that there are three learning activities. so For a 60-minute lesson, there would be six at least activities.

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