How I Plan

I'm really trying to get back in the habit of blogging, but I'm boring this year and either I've created boring guided notes or reused things from the past that are already posted here. =(

A commenter mentioned something about planning so I thought that would make a good post.

How I Plan: Summer Time

  • Create a new school year folder on my external hard drive by school year, by class (Alg I, Geo, Alg II) and by the units.
  • Go through my pinterest board Teaching Ideas and save lesson ideas to my blogroll pages (see top of this post) separated by class and big ideas
  • Read more blogs and also save lesson ideas to my blogroll pages
  • From both above ideas, I download the documents and save them into my the correct unit folders on my external hard drive
  • Reevaluate my pacing guide (I always rearrange things and I'm really trying to delete things as well) This year I made room in my pacing guide for notes to myself. Some examples of things I've written so far are vocab words that can be cut, concepts that need to be in a different order, concepts that can be cut, or notes of documents that I need to edit (although I try to do those asap)
  • Recreate my EOC. This is only our second year of using end of course exams but I find that as soon as my pacing guide changes, my EOC will have to change to reflect that.

How I Plan the Beginning of the Year
  • Think about year long themes. We usually start school on a Wednesday so the first three days don't really count. I use this time to find activities that are fun but also reinforce my themes. For example, this year my themes were reading directions, being organized, and team competition. So my activities were a directions quiz, a day of organizing binders (cardstock and sticky tabs for custom dividers labeled Notes, Quizzes, Tests, an empty page protector, syllabus, concept list, and label on the outside of the binder), and a day of team competition (separating my students into teams, creating a group name and a group flag, then the marshmallow challenge)
  • I teach in a small school were every student will definitely have me two years in a row, possibly three. I can't just use the same beginning of school activities from year to year. I rotate.

How I Plan a Unit

  • My pacing guide is organized into units but from there I guess I create mini-units, where there is a natural break in the concepts. Basically, I am deciding which concepts will go on the same test. I like 4, sometimes 5, and never more than 6.
  • I try to give a quiz at least every two concepts but preferably every concepts.
  • I already have ideas saved from summer to get me started
  • I go through my past years of units and move things I want to use to the current year (I've saved everything I've ever used in my teaching career)
  • Look for gaps. What concepts am I teaching this year that I don't already have something for? Is this a concept I understand well enough to create something myself? If not, it's time to google/blog/twitter/pinterest.

How I Plan a Lesson
  • Is this a concept I've taught before? If so, do I have anything I can use? If I don't like it, how can I fix it? If I like it, is there anything I can do to make it better, add on, or need to get our for this lesson?
  • If this is a new concept, I first use my textbook for ideas. From there I can check my blog rolls to see if I missed any ideas. I can tweet and ask for help. Or I can google.
  • Is this lesson boring? Are there any ways I can incorporate an activity to spice it up. My favorites are sorting, rotating stations, pong, concept attainment, or something hands on.
  • Make sure practice is involved. After I introduce a concept (usually through an example) am I giving students at least three problems to practice on their own?
  • Do I need to include any vocab definitions?
  • Did I give students enough space to show their work and a graph if needed?
  • Did I include any questions that review an old concept, make them think, make them create their own of something, or ask them to make a prediction?
  • Did I include some out of the box problems vs cookie cutter problems?

How I Plan an Activity

  • What materials do I need? Do I need to make copies for each student, for pairs, or for each group? Card stock or colored paper? Do they need to be cut ahead of time or can students cut them? If students are cutting, I put mini trash cans on each group of desks to avoid trash on my floors. Do I need glue sticks, rulers, tape?
  • Where will I put materials? Can I lay them out for students to pick up, pass them out during class, or assign one group member to get supplies for their group? What is the most efficient way so students aren't crowding, pushing, flowing out the door, or standing in a long line?
  • Is this a station activity where students rotate? Do I have directions at each station? How long will students have at each station? How will they know when to rotate? Am I giving students enough time so they don't fell rushed but not so much time that they are doing nothing? (I usually use a timer and tell them to rotate either left or right) Are they writing on something at each station or taking the same paper with them from station to station?
  • What is my goal for the activity? Is this an introduction, reinforcement, or practice? Am I going to answer their questions or do they have to rely on classmates? Can they use their notes? Would the best way to reach my goal be individually or group work?
  • Am I making them think?
  • What parts are potential pitfalls to my students? How can we avoid them? Are my directions clear? Is there a question that every student or group is going to stumble on? Can I give them a hint or a place to look for a hint?
  • Is this competitive? Do students know how they earn points? Is there a clear place to keep score? Is there a prize or just for fun? Clear expectations!
  • How will I know if the activity achieved my goal? Is there some kind of student feedback? Am I grading or charting results? Quiz? Formative assessment? Exit ticket?

How I Plan a Blog Post
  • I don't. I just start typing and it all comes out.

1 comment:

  1. We plan very similarly. This year I started using google docs too. So, I have my calendar/syllabus in the google doc. Then, as I find activities or blog links I will link put it right in the day it connects to - like coyote catapult video when I am reminding them to build their catapults when learning quadratics.