Lesson Planning Questions

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Kenz501, Feb 24, 2018.

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  1. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Feb 24, 2018

    Sorry, I've been posting on this forum for a little while, but most of it has been non-specific, woe-is-me, feeling sorry for myself, etc. Now, I'm actually trying to ask specific questions that will hopefully get me clearer more specific responses.

    Okay, I've student taught and worked as an ESL teacher and regular "teacher" at a youth center, but I'm still confused about how to plan lessons when there is no set structure, such as a weekly pacing guide, already provided. I did take a look at the district website, and I feel like I can do better at planning than I was doing at the beginning of the year, but I'm still often caught short.

    I think part of my problem is that it is ELA, and I just do not know how to teach writing. To me, writing is just something you do. It's related to reading and it's required to do well in almost any subject in the upper grades. I guess a lot of people don't look at it like that, but I need structure when I plan my lessons. I need to know what model I'm following---until recently I naively thought the gradual release model was the only model of instruction, and that might explain some of why I was having so much trouble. Unless I'm doing this wrong, some ELA concepts just won't fit into that model.

    Teaching grammar and vocabulary are easy, but the kids won't sit through a 60 minute vocabulary lesson. Sorry if it seems odd for me to be having this much trouble with something that is supposedly simple, but English and foreign language were my best subjects, and, to me, learning English / Language Arts takes very little work. I have trouble relating to my students who struggle, and I don't know how to translate the teaching strategies I've learned into something that will fit the ELA classroom.
     
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  3. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I'm still not sure that you're going to get any better answers this time. "I don't know how to teach writing" is every bit as broad as the previous questions you've asked. And the answer is still the same as before. There are plenty of sources that will walk you through the whole process.

    I teach middle school language arts. I have to cover reading, writing, language, and speaking/listening skills in 55 minutes a day. We don't separate those skills. Most recently, we have been working within a topic of the Civil War. We have read all kinds of nonfiction articles. Each week we focus on a different standard. For our final assessment of the unit, students will be writing an argumentative essay.

    We did not have a pacing guide provided either. We made our own. It wasn't particularly difficult. We have the standards. I know how many days I have the kids and how long each day I have them. And the good thing about language arts is that I can teach pretty much any standard with whatever piece of text I want.

    I'm quite capable of creating my own lessons, as I've been doing this for 25 years. However, I'm also not going to reinvent the wheel, so I look for sources anywhere I can. I use many things from ReadWorks and CommonLit. Our textbook also has many resources. I sometimes buy things from Teachers Pay Teachers, but it's not my favorite source.
     
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  4. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I don't know what's wrong, really, but when I use resources off of the internet, I usually end up not teaching the state objectives required. I tend to pick stuff that seems easy to me but is way above their heads.
     
  5. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    Feb 24, 2018

    In situations like this, it would probably be up to you to revise the online lesson. Of course, we can help you make that happen. (A little more specific information would be appreciated.)
     
  6. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Our state standards are based on Common Core Standards, as are many other state standards. When I'm looking for something particular, I will search the standard number.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Teaching writing isn't supposed to be easy. Frankly, I think it is the most difficult subject area of all to teach.
     
  8. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I would then google the specific objective when you are looking for lessons online. You should also revise the online lessons to meet state objectives.

    Can you give an example of a lesson that was too challenging for your class?
     
  9. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

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    Feb 24, 2018

    I'd look into the book Creating Writers by Vicki Spandel. It's all about how to teach, model, and evaluate the Six Traits of Writing (Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions.) Most state standards grade based on some variation of the six traits, and they're a good way to evaluate writing in general.

    You also might want to look into Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher. He suggests a lot of different activities you can do with students based on the purpose behind writing (express, explain, evaluate, persuade, etc.) I also like Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle, which is a guide on how to run a writing workshop class.

    If you're teaching those traits and those purposes behind writing, and getting students to write regularly, you should be working towards the state standards.

    As far as planning goes, try a sort of backwards design approach. Consider the learning goals for your students (overarching understandings, background knowledge, and skills) and look for standards that apply to those goals. If none do, tweak the goals so that they do work with the standards. Then find activities that work towards that goal.
     
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  10. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Feb 24, 2018

    You can also start with the standard and set a learning goal from there, which may help you identify what it is exactly you're teaching.
    For example, here is a set of 9th-10th grade writing standards:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3
    Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.A
    Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.B
    Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.C
    Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.D
    Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.E
    Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.
    Looking at that first one seems a bit vague - that's the overarching standard. The learning target for this unit would be to write a narrative of real or fictional events using well-chosen details and a structured sequence of events.

    Those sub-standards, A-E, would give you learning goals for individual lessons or mini-units within your overall narrative-writing unit. So A could easily be several days: find mentor texts (which could be literally ANY narrative book! Go with whatever your students are familiar with or what you're reading as a class) to identify where the writer sets out the problem, how the characters or situations are introduced, and how the story flows from one event to the next. This fits easily within a gradual release model: You model your own thinking about those features. Have the students work together to identify those features. Then they could choose a "style" or gather some ideas for their own writing, and begin writing their own narrative with those things in mind.

    And so on. By looking at each standard, you find your starting point for the lesson. Writing can follow a gradual release model quite well actually - you model it and explain your thinking, have them practice with you or in groups, and then set them to work on their own using the skills they've observed and practiced.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  11. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Feb 24, 2018

    I'm in a reading specialist program and 4.0'd the course on "teaching writing'' and guess what... I still don't feel any better or more prepared to do it. I think teaching -- and ASSESSING -- writing is very difficult!
     
  12. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    First I would say you want the students to be quite familiar with the different genres of writing: opinion, informative/ explanatory, and narrative. I think teaching writing is a combination of modeling writing for them and how it should look, responding to texts and using them as models and then letting students write and taking what they give you and tailoring instruction. I definitely agree that "writing is something you do'' and the problem is we don't give students enough time to authentically write! There's a reason it's called the writing process and it doesn't just happen in twenty minutes. Yet I go into classrooms ALL THE TIME and ''writing'' is merely the students copying what the teacher has on the board and then making it look ''pretty.'' You should become familiar with the 6+1 writing traits (if you aren't already) and really focus on those as you model and guide students through the structure of writing and refer to mentor texts as you do. I think it really helps to teach writing if you READ writing and deconstruct what authors have done. But the students need ample time to write, collaborate with their peers, make those revisions / edits, and revise their papers. But take what mistakes they're making or things you notice could be better and turn those into mini lessons. In my grad class we had to do a project called "read with a writer's eye'' where we tied texts to the 6+1 writing traits and analyze how we'd use them to teach WRITING. Usually we think of books as just teaching reading and reading comprehension, but the focus of the course was to use them to teach writing.
    But I think if you focus on a standard and grab yourself a GREAT mentor text to model writing, it's a great start!
    :)
     
  13. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Feb 25, 2018

    It seems like you need long-term plans. Sit down with a calendar. Put in dates for things like: standardized testing, field day, end of grading period, etc. Then, count and see how many days you have left in the year. Then, look in your textbook and see how many units you have left. Divide those up into the days you have left. Then, choose the most important parts of each unit. That should give the rest of your year more structure.

    As far as vocabulary and grammar, those should never be whole-day lessons. They should be 10-minute warm-ups at the start of class. It may be old-fashioned, but good old Daily Oral Language (DOL) gets the job done. You can mix up how you do this. Sometimes, I have them edit each others' sentences. Sometimes I let students come to the board and write them and we all edit them together. For vocabulary, you could do "word of the day" or focus on a word part a week. These should be quick mini-lessons, not a whole, big formal lesson.

    My class period is 55 minutes, and this is what a typical day in my class looks like:
    10 minutes - AR reading
    10 minutes - Grammar/vocabulary warmup
    25 minutes - Core activity of the day (close read, writing, group project, game, etc.)
    10 minutes - Closure/test prep review of the day

    These times are approximate, and we don't always do each part. Usually if anything gets left out, it's AR reading, though on library days we have more time for that so it evens out more.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Here is a lesson planning tip that my student mentor teacher told me: Use the Yearly Overview to plan each week. For example, let’s say I have to teach unit X in three weeks, which is comprised of standards, A, B, C, D, and E. To accomplish this, I should allocate week 1 to teach standards A and B, week 2 for C and D, and week 3 for E.

    Do you see how it makes lesson planning easier? To make the Yearly Overview, print out the state standards and use a calendar to map out each unit. This will make your life so much simpler.

    The moral of the story is to not think about your lesson planning on a daily basis, but a weekly and even monthly basis! :)
     
  15. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    This is really helpful to me! Thanks!!
     
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  16. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    You’re very welcome! :)
     
  17. Kenz501

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    I'm sorry. I think I would benefit better if I could watch a video of people planning out units. I'm missing minor details that are making me tell myself, "this is really complicated!" I guess it isn't really as difficult as I think, but for some reason, when I sit down with a list of standards and textbook, I draw a blank.
     
  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Maybe you should look on Youtube and see if there is a video that fits your specific need.

    You might even want to join some of the education websites that provide teaching videos, if you think that is how you will learn best. That said, if you aren't specific enough in your questioning, you will probably finding yourself walking in the same circles similar to your current plight.

    No, it isn't really easy - it takes constant work and attention to detail. I believe the request for a video sounds like we are back to "train me."
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  19. Ms.Holyoke

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    What are you teaching tomorrow?
     
  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Use a lesson plan template. It should include the objective (e.g. Students will learn to... by using/doing...), anticipatory set, lesson of the day, guided practice, checks for understanding, standards covered, student accommodations (if any), homework, and materials used.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  21. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I don't think a video of my process would help you. Lesson and unit planning requires creative thought and problem solving. My process involves lots of sticky notes, white out, and a bunch of tabs open on my browser and a bunch of books and binders open on my table. Unless I literally narrated every thought I had, watching me plan a unit would not be very helpful.
     
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