The 4 Ms consists of four aspects (all beginning with M) that a teacher should examine before planning a lesson. The 4 Ms are: Manageable, Measurable, Made First, and Most Important. Each aspect is simple, which makes this an easy strategy to implement, yet extremely effective in classroom planning. By combining the four aspects, it ensures that a lesson is effective from start to finish.
As with any lesson, it is important to decide before beginning a lesson if it is manageable for the class and for the time allotted. For example, take a fifth grade class. If the objective of the class was to understand the Pythagorean Theorem, it probably would not be a manageable lesson because the students have not learned enough about square numbers and triangles. If the objective was to learn about triangles, it would probably not be a manageable lesson because of the vast amount of information there is to learn about triangles. A manageable objective may be to learn about the three different types of triangles. Part of this strategy is being able to predict how much practice the class needs with material in order to master new concepts. Instead of using the objective of learning about triangles for three weeks, it is more manageable for you to teach a little bit each day, just as it is easier for the class to understand what it expected of them each day.
The current system of education is set up so that every performance must be measurable; therefore, a teacher should set objectives in a similar manner. This strategy suggests that teachers create objectives in such a way that the outcomes can be measured at the end of the day. This lets the teacher measure how well he or she achieved the objective, based on how well the students grasped the material. This also lets the teacher know if the class is ready to move on or needs to spend more time on the material. One of the suggestions given is to use an exit ticket, or a short assessment at the end of class to gauge the understanding of the material taught during class. Though a sad truth, one of the most prominent aspects of education has become the students’ abilities to remember information given to them and recall the information on a test. If a student does not remember the information immediately after it is presented, the chances are very high that the information will not be accessible during the following assessments either. By making sure each objective is measurable, it allows the teacher to see how well the students can apply the information learned, in order to use it as a basis for further learning.
This aspect addresses a common mistake amongst teachers – choosing an objective off of a pre-planned activity. The book uses the example of deciding to play Jeopardy, and therefore picking an objective that could be assessed in that format. “Made first” suggests that teachers choose the objective before anything else. By doing this, it allows for teachers to base the activities around the material that needs to be learned, which is the most effective way to design a lesson.
This aspect is short and straight-forward. Each objective should be designed to help students on their path to college. Only the most important information needs to be presented, in order to leave room for other information that is considered most important as well.