Do you do lesson plans?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Avalon

    Avalon Rookie

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I start the year with the state standards and map how I will apply them throughout the year to best prepare my students for state testing in May, noting the sequence of approximately 2-3 week units in my lesson plan book.

    Using standards-based assessments, I backward-map from each of the formal assessments, which I administer every two - three weeks (about) during the year. I list the standards that will be covered on the assessment, divide them up in the 10-15 instructional days we will have, with emphasis on the 'power' standards that will have the most questions, and concepts I anticipate will be most challenging. I plan for each two week interval, starting about a week in advance.

    I then prepare power point presentations, create learning activities to support the concepts, and gather resources I will need - books, photos, examples, rubrics, graphic organizers, sentence frames, vocab cards, etc.

    I jot down in my lesson book which lessons/activities I will use each day, including bell work, supplies needed, checking for understanding strategies, etc., with extra room in each unit to reteach as needed, or preview concepts from the next unit.

    So I am never unprepared or attempt to "wing it," which to me is the opposite of good teaching and would be a disservice to my students.

    Having said that, I also never prepare a written lesson plan unless I am required to, or want to share a lesson with a colleague. I have limited time, which I try to use efficiently and balance with a personal life, and writing down what is already so well-planned cognitively, would, for me, be time-consuming while contributing nothing substantive to my lessons or my students learning.

    To answer your question another way, veteran teachers are (I hope) not actually 'winging it,' but are working from prior experience with the same lesson that is stored, along with needed resources, in their classroom and/or brain.
     
  2. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Apr 7, 2013

    After several years in my grade level, here is what I do:
    At the beginning of the month, sit down with my calendar, my files for the month, and my crate of books and supplies for the month. Plan out a rough outline of what I must get done, what I'd like to get done, and what "extras" I can do if there's time.

    At the end of each week, I fill out a very basic lesson plan template for the next week - really just a few words for each subject. (Writing - reports, rough drafts)

    When I move grade levels next year, my plans will be much more detailed for a year or two.
     
  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I keep plans for everything I do during the day. They aren't extremely detailed. Basically I write up a list of what I am doing with the students, the objectives for my lessons, and any work that students are completing.
     
  4. readforxboxguy

    readforxboxguy Rookie

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    I believe every teacher should be doing lesson plans, no matter the experience level or the requirements of the district. They don't have to be detailed, but instead a general idea of what you want to get accomplished.

    The reason I feel it's important is so you can see the balance in what you are teaching and perhaps what you are missing. For example, if you are an LA/LIT teacher and you haven't worked on vocabulary in several weeks, your lesson plans would indicate that omission. The problem with lesson plans is predicting the pacing because that is very difficult to gauge. I had often had to shred my earlier plans mid-week, adjust, and re-write. It is time consuming but in my experience it is helpful and in line with best practice.
     
  5. Marylander

    Marylander Rookie

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    How are we defining lesson plans, and how detailed is detailed? Exactly what do we mean by "winging it"? As long as the students are making positive progress, what difference does it make how we plan? No two teachers in my school plan in exactly the same way, but we all plan and our students make excellent progress.

    I begin the year with sketchy long-range plans in each subject, and I fine tune as time goes by. I use the scope and sequence charts to map where I'm going and where I've been. My daily plans are as detailed as I need them to be for my very own purposes. "Best practice" is whatever works for me.
     
  6. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I map out objectives, strategies/resources, and assessments, but don't write a formal plan. I just put that information in my plan book.
     
  7. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I'm not trying to judge them...I just don't understand how someone could not plan anything. And I'm not even talking about a situation where someone has been teaching 20+ years and has unit plans that they have been following for years...Some of these people don't even do that. These are the type of people who will look for a 2 hour movie to show when they hear that the principal is going to be out of the building in the afternoon. It's not a "More power to them" situation!

    Plus, our standards completely changed this year with Common Core, so there is no way that teachers could be teaching the same thing they taught 20 years ago (or even last year!) and be covering all of the new standards. Some level of planning has to be involved, especially this year!

    Also, I HATE HATE HATE the argument that I'm making them look bad by coming in on my own time. I will do what I want to do to get my job done well. If other teachers are intimidated by the fact that I go to school to work, then that's absolutely crazy. Also, like I mentioned before, I do not take work home, and I KNOW that almost every other teacher in my building does. Whether or not my body is physically in the building when I am working outside of my regular work hours, or physically in my home is my own personal decision.
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Apr 7, 2013

    Me reactions: :eek::lol::rolleyes:
     
  9. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I agree that a teacher should plan in their own way. By "winging it" I mean that they really don't plan anything. As in, they have tons of worksheets copied off and pick which ones they want their students to do that day. Or they just tell them to read. One of the teachers was annoyed that a parent complained about no guided reading being done in her classroom for over a month. Our district requires each teacher to meet with 3 guided reading groups per day. Of course, that takes a lot of planning...
     
  10. Avalon

    Avalon Rookie

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    Not to speak for others, but to me, "winging it" is something like what I did as a sub. Showing up with very little clue of what I would be teaching that day (sometimes not even the grade level), and frequently with no communication left by the teacher to let me know what progress the students have made in learning which concepts. Relying on my content knowledge, instinct, and experience to provide appropriate learning experiences for the students, using only the resources I may happen to find in the room. And having little knowledge of how that day's learning connects to long-range instructional goals.

    I believe the responses to this thread are clarifying what a lesson plan may represent to different people, from a formal, detailed, written document such as you might submit to a professor, to a mental checklist of what you will teach that day, and how.

    Personally, mine are somewhere in between. I don't find value in preparing detailed written documents daily, but do plan in advance. While I might adjust a lesson from a sudden inspiration or observation, I wouldn't, for instance, plan the day's lesson while commuting to work that morning. If I did, I doubt it would be my best work, or maximize my students' learning. At the very least, I would forgo the opportunity to assemble resources to enrich the lesson and make it easily comprehensible to my students, like appropriate texts, charts, graphs, photos, etc.
     
  11. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Apr 7, 2013

    Oh yes, I definitely don't 'wing it'. I tried that one afternoon... worst afternoon of my career. Never again. I chalk that one up to rookie confidence.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    You're telling a different story with the 2hour movie bit. That is inexcusable. If they *are* working from memory and adding in parts to cover the new standards, then I say more power to them. If they aren't making plans because they aren't going to teach anything, then of course I don't support that.

    And please don't read my previous post in the wrong vein. I totally agree that what you do to prepare for the week is your business. It does not matter if you are making slackers look bad. I was just saying that might be why they are telling you to not go in - because they know it is making them look bad.
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Apr 7, 2013

    My planning on the fly or "winging it" is when I walk in my room in the morning and I don't know what activities we'll do and in what order. But I do know what lesson I'm teaching and where I want to be at the end of the week.

    I've only done this a couple of times - this past week I had to do a smaller scale version because my plans were messed up. So I did Wednesday's previously planned activity on Tuesday instead. I still had plans but I had to switch them up and make small adjustments as a result. The other times I've done it was after I was called away from class or had to go home sick one day. The next day back with that class needed serious adjustments.

    I never follow my weekly plans perfectly anyhow since I adjust as we go along. If my students need more time on XYZ, they get it. If I feel they need a quiz or a review I hadn't planned on before, they get it. I think that is just good teaching.

    It is easier for me because I've taught the same subject for a while and I teach it three times a day. So the same lesson has been taught, in the same sequence, many times over. We have a district-wide pacing guide and I have others within my team that I consult with.

    So it isn't like I'm going in with absolutely nothing, as a sub would.
     
  14. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Oh, I totally get what you were saying...I hope it didn't sound like I was "yelling" at you! My old team (at a different school) would actually come out and say that I was making them look bad! It was really frustrating...
     
  15. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I am not judging anyone either but I honestly cannot imagine trying to teach without plans.
     
  16. missapril81

    missapril81 Companion

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I do plans, but usually to give me a general idea of what. I am doing. Ours Just has to be so a sub could follow. However if I know I am getting a sub. I do separate lessons typed up for them (mostly if it is an introductory lesson). Our math seriea is not a fave of mine and some subs I have not had success with. Also, I don't always stick to plans depending on how quickly we mov through the subject at hand or if they are struggling with the skills.
     
  17. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    We are required to email our plans to the instructional coordinator (like an AP, but less pay) no later than Monday morning. My P loves my plans and wouldn't require me to turn them in, but in order to be fair to all, I'm included, and I really don't mind, since I'm already emailing the plans to our other 1st grade teacher (don't ask - long story that ends with me doing all planning because otherwise it wouldn't get done). I actually print two copies of my plans - one for my Plan Book (sits on a bookcase by the door for instant access for any district administrator who cares to check it), and one for my personal use. I make notes of what works and what doesn't, who needs extra help, etc. In addition, because I keep it on my teacher table, I am able to quickly note changes to lessons (fire drill or whatever) and to double check needed supplies.

    I teach in a very low income, urban school. My current school is Heaven compared to the one at which I spent my first year (pure H*ll). That being said, I still have students who face many challenges, behavior more often than not being one. I have 6 different reading groups in my classroom, because they are at different levels. I do interventions for reading twice each day, and for math once (in addition to core instruction). I progress monitor for reading (DIBELS NWF and DORF) and math (Aimsweb oral counting, number id, quantity discrimination, missing number, and math computation) every other week, and this has to be noted on my plans, because it take time out of core. I tend to overplan, for a number of reasons. One, by having more than what I need at arm's length, I lessen behavioral issues because I don't spend 5 minutes looking for something, giving kids "down" time. Two, if I see that something is not working, I have other ideas handy and don't have to wrack my brain.

    I get to school at 6:30 am, and retrieve my students from the auditorium at 7:50. I leave by around 3:30, but I do take work home at night and on weekends.
     
  18. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I will sort of be 'winging' it tomorrow morning. :blush: I have unit plans that I wrote a month ago. However, I was out of town the week before spring break, so I have no idea what my sub did or didn't get to. So, I have an idea, but I won't know details until I get there in the morning.
     
  19. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    They would be written up at my school! We have a very strict 'no movies' policy thanks to the K teachers at my school. A few years back they sent home a questionnaire to ask which movies they wanted their children to watch on the last 2 days of school :dizzy:
     
  20. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Apr 7, 2013

    Oh, wow...!!!
     

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