A question to ...the seasoned teachers here

Discussion in 'General Education' started by McKennaL, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,378
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    Hmmmm....

    When I returned to school I heard (More times than I would have preferred)... "don't reinvent the wheel...use what is out there!" What they meant is that there are so many resources AND LESSON PLANS that you don't have to plan for yourself (even a fraction of what we used to). This "BORROWING" from others is now encouraged in colleges. My study partner and I (both having gone to college for teaching and years later returning to re-up ourselves) would look at each other and say...are you LEARNING that way? What happened to "you are in college to learn how to think for yourself"? SHouldn't you...if no-where else... be MADE to be original in college? And we would get our noses a bit out of joint that we were graded the same for our ORIGINAL units as those who just re-worded things they "stole" (using Harry Wong's philosophy) from others on-line.

    I recently went to a music reading/musical choreography session that used to inspire me before the new year started. (Just as something to do) It was refreshing...but during the breaks, I would find myself choreographing the rest of the song in advance. Where would I put the singers, what moves the boys would do, what the background performers would be doing instead of the front, and how would I accentuate the drum riff that I knew was coming up in the music next. (I do this same thing when I go to a reading workshop as well. I will be one step ahead of the speaker..thinking...how would I do THIS in my classroom?) The teacher/choreographer made a point to come up to me and say, "I can tell that you are used to working up shows on your own. have to say, I watch you, and I am inspired to borrow your moves or come up with different moves as well. It's cool to see an original thinker in the crowd."

    Recently, actually from HERE, some have pointed out links that contain FULL UNITS ..lesson plans, activities, worksheets, tests..even QUESTIONS that one should ask their students and a variety of ANSWERS that they could possibly give back. (I.E. "Scripts")

    Hmmmmmm....

    What is YOUR view on this? Has the ART of teaching (working up ORIGINAL lessons...writing your OWN script) become as old fashioned as the chalkboard? Of course it is easier (and there is a LOT of great stuff out there), but is it also TOO sad that people aren't working it up -learning through doing - on their own?

    **Note: I, obviously, come from a music background. I was a department of one. I didn't have a team to collaborate with. My motto was "if it's meant to be, it's up to me." Maybe I'm just not as used to this collaboration/share rather than create from scratch sort of thinking that teams build on.

    I would sure like opinions here. Are others feeling the same as I...or is it more... it's out there, why create it yourself?
     
  2.  
  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jul 28, 2009

    I love chalkboards...need I say more??

    I think the internet is a wonderful resource (How else would I have gained all my Disney knowledge??)

    But what works for my 3rd period class seldom works exactly the same for my 8th. So I can't imagine how someone else's lesson could possibly work for my class.

    The general idea, sure. Maybe someone else's idea will spark something that will work for one or all of my classes.

    But my work is my own.

    PS-- and thanks for "seasoned" as opposed to some of the other descriptions you might have chosen :)
     
  4. Irma

    Irma Companion

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    There are certain things that I reuse - graphic organizers, book questions, etc. But I tend to go with what needs my students have and go that direction. I think of myself as creative and can't stand to do the same thing as everyone else so I don't do the norm..I absolutely love working with other teachers who think out of the box and want to come up with new ideas.
     
  5. MissNikki

    MissNikki Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I don't understand how ANYONE could just pull a lesson off of the Internet one day and teach it. There's more to it than that. I could see using it as a springboard for a lesson that you adapt to your own kids' unique needs, but not relying on it fully. Even if you did find one that you could use without much modification, that would not happen everyday.

    Bottom Line: The Internet is a great resource, but it could never replace good teaching.
     
  6. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,765
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jul 28, 2009

    I get lots of ideas from other teachers, internet, lessons from the textbook company and from here :) However, very rarely do I use the lesson or resource directly as written. As Alice mentioned, I use the idea and then make the idea my own. For example, I use a lot of webquests with my students. When I choose my topic, I begin searching the internet for ideas and to brainstorm. My completed webquest typically are a combination of ideas I found from other teachers I use directly, ideas from other teachers I have tweaked and my own orignial ideas. Many of the lessons I have borrowed from others have been tweaked enough that they don't even resemble the orginal lesson. Also, within my own content area, I have strengths and weakness. It is very helpful for me in my weaker areas to have resources from other teachers. Finally, honestly, there are some parts of history (believe it or not ;)) that I really don't enjoy teaching. So, as not to convey my opinions on the events we're studying, I will look for activities to spark my own interest and to make the content information interesting for my students.

    The other issue at play here Mckenna, in my case, is common assessments. Our students must pass state imposed End of Course assessments in several subjects. We have to ensure that all students taking English 10A are taught the "same" to ensure they are well prepared to pass the ECA. While the lesson aren't scripted, we have to ensure that all students are being taught the same content regardless of which teacher they had.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,958
    Likes Received:
    2,110

    Jul 28, 2009

    I will admit to looking at lessons online (mostly from research based people like Lucy Calkins or Marilyn Burns) and then I 'tweak' them so they fit my style, my classroom, my kids. I also create a lot of my own materials, activities and lessons. I learn something everytime I watch someone else teach- but I don't try to BE them- I take something from them and make it my own.

    I think there are instinctive natural teachers and then there are teachers who rely heavily scripted programs...I mentored a teacher who needed to script EVERY thing she was going to do or say in her classroom- she really couldn't go 'off the program'...unfortunately kids aren't programmed that way, so when a curve ball came her way, this teacher did not know what to do, she couldn't think on her feet...she didn't last long despite LOTS of mentoring, professional development, peer coaching...

    I think there's plenty of creativity out there and I think we should notice and learn from the creativity of our colleagues, and embrace it in ourselves. It's important to be reflective on our practices, to know how our kids learn best and to make changes/tweak things- often on the fly- to best facilitate learning.
     
  8. Mrs.Sheila

    Mrs.Sheila Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2006
    Messages:
    531
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I teach preschool, and just as many of you ~ no year is the same. The kids do not work the same, neither do I! I rarely keep any of my lesson plans ( though our director does), because if something worked really well that I want to use again ~ I remember it! I remember the experience, and for me that means more then just doing the same thing over and over and over.
     
  9. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    As others have said, a good teacher who tailors instruction to his/her students wouldn't pull a lesson off the internet and teach it as-is. I had a student intern who literally Googled a lesson the morning before she taught it... she didn't last long in my room. That said, I love "stealing" great ideas from other teachers... when someone has an organizational or behavior management that works when I'm struggling, I'm happy to try a new approach. I think that's healthy. But though I may use lesson plans as a basis for my instruction, I also do a lot of work from scratch based on my students' needs and interests. I guess that's the bottom line for me... either you tailor your instruction to YOUR kids, or you don't. And teachers who do the latter are exactly the ones who use scripts and the same worksheet year after year and lessons verbatim from the internet.

    <stepping off soapbox>
     
  10. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    3,888
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I'm required to teach the State's Standards but am fortunate enough to have autonomy on how to teach. I'll look at some lesson plans on the Internet, but to me it's often a waste of time because much of the time they're just mediocre. I'm working on a unit I used this year and will submit it for a National Curriculum Award. When I was in grad school I wrote three different units which were better than anything I could find on the Internet.

    I'm required to follow a strict schedule and testing dates. I think some Novice teachers may need more structure as czacza wrote earlier.

    My district has used and some teachers still use a scripted lesson plan, I hated it. Just put a robot in the classroom if you want a script.
     
  11. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,958
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    collaboration makes the best lessons. I love finding ideas and tweaking them or elaborating them. It makes it different and the lesson wouldn't have been nearly as good without my additions.

    Smart teachers don't reinvent the wheel. that doesn't ensure the lesson is better. My goal is to teach the kids. If I don't learn from other great teachers, I am only wallowing in my own self-pride. I do the kids an injustice. I refuse to allow my self-pride about being a great teacher to get in the way of great teaching and learning.

    And, I can't tell you how many times I have created an "original" lesson only to find out it wasn't exactly "original".

    I pride myself in doing a great jobs of searching the Internet and finding the most creative, thought-provoking lesson ideas. I then modified, add to, change up to accommodate my class' needs. Great teachers use every resources at their disposal.
     
  12. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    2,403
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jul 28, 2009

    lol. I was going to say the same thing Alice did - I love chalkboards!

    If I am planning a new unit, or need some ideas to refresh an old one, I often ask on here, do searches on line, see what other colleagues do, but I have never taken a cookie cutter lesson plan on line and followed it to a tee. Even if I have taught the same unit 15 times, I never use it the same way. I have some colleagues who keep binders that have the unit planned down to the day and they just keep doing it over and over. I think there are too many variable in the classroom to do that effectively.
     
  13. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2006
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    Mrs. Sheila and Silverspoon - I am the same way I rarley keep an entire Lesson. I will keep the idea and then if it looks like it would work with my current class then I teach it.

    I love looking at the internet for lesson ideas. Especially since I teach 8th grade. I love looking for power points that I can tweak to my way of teaching. I teach at a classical school and we focus a lot on the kids learning to think for themselves.
     
  14. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

    Joined:
    May 22, 2009
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    The internet is a great RESOURCE, however I rarely take something off the internet and teach it as is. I relied on the internet a lot more last year, I was teaching 5th grade social studies without a class text. There are some amazing ideas out there. Often time the engaging lessons are not linked strongly enough with the standards...but you can pick and choose. I do very thorough lesson plans for the week, and I would say that I search and use pieces from others for about every other lesson. I am "creating" these lessons, but I use others' nuggets of knowledge where I see fit.
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,865
    Likes Received:
    1,362

    Jul 28, 2009

    I have looked online for things, and I do use things that I find. However, I don't think that I have ever used anything "as is". I don't even teach exactly the same lesson in each class period during the day.
     
  16. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I think people who write and post internet lessons have the best of intentions, but it's hard to take everything that happens in a dynamic classroom and write it all down in a word document for someone else to copy. When I search the internet for ideas and lessons, I have to find the main idea or heart of the lesson, and then take it from there. Even the best teacher would have a hard time transferring a great hands-on lesson to a written format.

    So I agree with the other posters. The internet is great for ideas, but rarely can you find a lesson that works as-is. That said, it's great for a pinch, or when you're just brain-dead about an idea or topic. Sometimes you can find a lesson that sparks your creativity, while if you had sat and tried to think of it yourself, you'd be stumped for days.
     
  17. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Jul 28, 2009

    I agree with others. I search the internet for lessons; however, I don't use it to a T. I might take bits and pieces of it and tweak other bits of it and then add my own ideas to it.
     
  18. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    293
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I don't consider myself a seasoned professional...I still have a lot to learn. However, here is kind of a different take on your question.

    My thought in teaching is always, how can I maximize my time and use it efficiently so that I can put the best of myself into working with my students? If I spend all of my time creating uniquely fabulous, never-before-seen lessons, will I have time to truly work with, think about, and reflect upon the unique individuals in my classroom? We are not teaching content; we are teaching people! So, I certainly borrow lessons, take ideas from others, etc, all the while tweaking them to my unique group of learners, as others have mentioned. I think what matters more is how we take the already-created lesson and adapt it or make it doable to the classroom. I definitely create my own things from time to time, but more important to me is being truly present in the classroom with my students. I can use virtually any lesson, but it is how I teach it that has the greater impact.
     
  19. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,424
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I see lesson plans and units found on the internet as a place to jump off. It would never work for me to take them off line and use them immediately as is. Every teacher has their own style and way of doing things, so putting your own spin on it is important. I am NOT to good to use other peoples great ideas though.
     
  20. nothermanda

    nothermanda Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I use internet lesson plans like I use cookbooks: Read it, see if the finished product looks good, check to make sure I have most of the ingredients and utensils, and then adjust it for my personal tastes.

    Of course, I'm not the greatest cook, and some of my recipes end with burn cream, the a beeping smoke detector, and my favorite pan forever ruined :) I guess the analogy isn't perfect.

    That said, I just discovered some awesome resources on the Library of Congress website, and I'm currently adapting them for my class.

    Is there anyone out there who uses any lesson plan - from the internet or created individually - exactly as written?

    My husband has a favorite quote: "No plan survives contact with the enemy." My kids aren't the enemy, but it works!
     
  21. mdith4him

    mdith4him Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I agree with the above posters. I am nowhere near a seasoned teacher (I'm only starting my second year), but I do use the internet a lot as a resource. I usually have a topic in mind (e.g. pumpkin life cycles) and search for good books to read, activities to try, etc. I also use internet resources to gather classroom management ideas. I think I'm a pretty good teacher (still needing improvement, but all in all, not too bad!), but everyone has limits to their ability to think up amazing lessons. If some teacher in Navada has an awesome activity that teaches the pumpkin life cycle I will definitely use it. But of course, I will build my own introduction, rules, procedures into the lesson as I see fit for my students.

    I think the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel" doesn't mean take a lesson plan from someone else and use it word for word. I do think it means not to try to do EVERYTHING by yourself. Learn from your colleagues.
     
  22. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,642
    Likes Received:
    62

    Jul 28, 2009

    For me as a first year teacher, I will be gathering materials from any and all sources. If I don't have to develop an entire unit on stars completely from scratch, I can spend more time on the units that I have the most ideas for (or the units that are the most important according to the standards). I can't do it all, at least right away.

    Which is not to say I am going to go download some random lesson from the internet. I will probably still spent a great deal of time on the "recycled" units, just not as much. I still have my own ideas, and quality control plus my philosophy are going to be the most important thing.

    Part of being an effective teacher is managing resources and time wisely. If a teacher in my building already has a syllabus that works, why not use and tweak to my liking and spend 10 minutes instead of an hour or two? Ditto stuff like safety quizzes, certain lab handouts and state exam practice activities. I want to spend my time where I can make the biggest impact and benefit the kids the most.

    Also: if another teacher in my building gives me some lesson plans and tells them to make use of them as I see fit and that she has used them and tweaked them over 10 years, by all means, I will borrow some of her ideas. I am sure I can learn plenty from that, plus I can discuss them with her. I think it would be arrogant as a new teacher to come in and decline all such assistance under the assumption that my own original work is going to always be superior (how could it possibly be?).
     
  23. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,642
    Likes Received:
    62

    Jul 28, 2009

    Oh my. Now that I have finished laughing, I can see that this will be my motto for the coming year. :D
     
  24. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Messages:
    1,265
    Likes Received:
    11

    Jul 28, 2009

    I have done both. I have used other sources for lessons and ideas and then taylored those to meet my students needs and for working in my classroom. I have also created lessons from scratch. Other resources are good for when I am in a bind for time. However, I have never used something word for word. That just wouldn't work with the students that I work with.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jul 28, 2009

    To be honest, it simply wouldn't occur to me to look for a lesson plan on the internet.

    I know what I want to teach. And I tend to know how I want to explain it.

    I know there's a lot of great stuff out there, but it's other people's stuff, not mine. My own great stuff is what I use.
     
  26. Señora Lorenzo

    Señora Lorenzo Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 28, 2009

    I have not necessarily used lesson plans from the 'net but I have used worksheets that have been shared by other teachers. Most of the time, I used the worksheets for extra written practice. I may also use a PPT with notes but change it to fit my students. I pace differently than other teachers so I couldn't possibly use lesson plans. I have used project or webquests have in turn shared tons of my stuff. I think sharing is a good thing. THe only problem I have is when people constantly are ASKING people for their lesson plans and/or projects and never even try to develop their own. These people are even to lazy to do a search to find something on the internet. THey just post to chatboards for every lesson they teach asking other people for their stuff (not ideas)!
     
  27. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Messages:
    3,231
    Likes Received:
    66

    Jul 28, 2009

    I agree with the poster who said that not reinventing the wheel doesn't mean copying. I will admit struggling from time to time in my internship, trying to come up with a great idea. I didn't want to go taking ideas from the internet and copy them, or even use ideas straight out of a resource book... then I had to tell myself, they were good ideas, I just had to read them and change them to what I want to do, and what works with my students.
     
  28. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2008
    Messages:
    685
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jul 28, 2009

    I have to admit: I probably did this more than I should have last year. I didn't go to the internet, though: I used a lot of worksheets and ideas from my co-operating teacher when I student taught. I'll own up to it, but I view it as something I needed to do to survive last year. I teach four levels (i.e. different preps), have no one else who teaches my content area in the district, and I was a first year teacher. I think honestly that my use of my co-ops materials helped me pull it off with my students: they still don't know it was my first year teaching. One of the things I'm working on over the summer is adapting more of my co-ops stuff than I did last summer. Some of it was straight from her; this year I want to make it my own more. The way I looked at it, though, was that she was actually retiring the year I was with her, so she obviously knew more than I. She was also a great teacher! I feel that as I move on, each year more and more will become strictly my own, as I learn what works for me. I don't often pull lesson plans offline as is -- if I do use something from online, I usually adapt it. In fact, the only lessons I think I used word for word were my sub plans!
     
  29. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,489
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jul 29, 2009

    Well... for a first year teacher, I think finding a complete lesson would be a great help to combat the sheer insanity. My first year I was constantly borrowing from coworkers, looking on the internet for ideas, etc.

    Now I write very exact, complete lessons - down to pre-preparing question lists, PPs, pop quizzes, and the test. I think it would be very easy for someone to sit down and completely follow one of my lessons... but at the same time, who isn't going to read another person's lesson and say "Oh, I think if I did it this way, it would work better?" or "I'd rather focus on this aspect than that one?" Putting a full, complete lesson out there for the world to see is a very generous thing, but I think teacher's should follow their instincts and use what will work for them.
     
  30. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    5,363
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 30, 2009

    I am very well-known at my school for developing a lot of my own materials, and my colleagues have different opinions about it. Some people call it creativity; some feel it is sheer dedication; others refer to it as immense insanity. However as someone who shares resources I create online, I am excited knowing that others can incorporate components of what I do in the classroom. If it works and it boosts my students' critical thinking, I feel it can help teachers elsewhere. Hopefully this is how other people who post their resources feel, like they are benefiting other teachers and perhaps planting a seed that can turn into a fabulous idea in the classroom. Some teachers reference specific lessons a lot while others take bits and pieces to mesh it into their own style of teaching.

    I have never been someone who has read a script. I am too Type A and stubborn to do so. However, I have located some lessons I very much like and perhaps I have used 75% of. It does not mean I am gleaning or stealing because teachers put the resources online for the benefit of other teachers in the first place.

    It is honestly no different than looking at a lesson in your teacher's manual- questions are included to ask questions throughout the lesson, but you may not use them all. Suggestions are made for lesson extensions, but you may be thinking of something completely different. Perhaps you watched a game show like Deal or No Deal and want to use the show as a game in your class for probability (though the math textbook didn't suggest that). I advise teachers to go for the gusto and let their brain juices flow.

    Creativity is what keeps me going. Sometimes I see an online resource and think of a stronger idea. Other times I don't feel like I need to use the Internet for a specific lesson because I am an extremely visual learner (or visual daydreamer, haha) and can develop a lesson in my mind.

    I really like having a world of lessons at my fingertips, though. It's made me a stronger teacher, though I rarely go the verbatim route, if ever at all.

    Bottom line- The Internet is a vast textbook for teachers with many intriguing lessons, but you should also be able to tap into your creative thinking. We advise our students to think alternatively, with innovation, and in the way of problem-solving, so why are we any different?

    Yahoo! :lol:
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Iris1001
Total: 388 (members: 2, guests: 361, robots: 25)
test