How complex are your lesson plans?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I don't know why I'm letting this happen, but I'm making myself do ultra complex lesson plans.

    Part of it is that planning is so iterative, and I'm trying to implement all of this stuff that I've been learning from all of these PDs, including Common Core literacy standards, best practices from the Art and Science of Teaching by Marzano, and Next Generation Science Standards.

    So currently my planning is like this:

    I create two focus questions for my unit that I want students to be able to answer well by the end of the unit. They are complex questions that require a breadth of knowledge from that unit's subject area.

    I create a concept map of each focus question detailing all of the things students need to know to be able to answer that focus question. These become my learning goals.

    I then sequence them, and write a bunch of ideas for how to teach each learning goal accompanied by any materials I would need for teaching them.

    I then take each learning goal and teaching ideas and put them into a Broad Lesson planner that includes what I will review from prior units that link to the current concept. How I will preview the concept and get them interested in it to begin with. What kinds of direct instruction I will provide, how I will check for understanding from the direct instruction, what activities they will do to process and practice that information, how I will assess their understanding of the concept, and how I will review later on.

    Then I take that broad lesson plan and I break it out into my calendar over however many days it will take. I then take that general information and do a daily lesson plan for each day, which includes a teacher-led activity, a collaborative investigation, independent practice, and a closure for each day. Standards are attached at each level of planning.

    I feel like I'm probably going to drive myself crazy with this, but I'm hoping that this will improve my practice, and that I'll only have to do it for this year. But I said that about last year and the year prior, and new things keep coming out that I need to add into my planning ordeals.

    Though it feels like a lot of work, I feel like each of these elements are needed in order to ensure that I'm hitting each best-practice.

    Did you guys have plans as complex as this or more so perhaps during your first few years? Does it get better over time? How do you reduce the complexity of planning?
     
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  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    My lesson plans have always been pretty basic. I have the date, standard(s), brief overview of what we're doing (journal, quiz, theme lesson, group work, for example), and then any homework.

    A whole week for one course fits on one page with maybe Friday on the back.
     
  4. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    That's....a lot.

    I will break my outcomes (I think you call them standards) into units and I will then order them appropriately within the unit.

    And then, I teach it.

    Over the years, I've come to revise how much time is needed for each outcome and/or unit, or maybe I'll switch an outcome from one unit to another or switch the order of units around but I don't know anybody who puts that much effort into the pre-planning stage of the lesson.

    Or, maybe I'm the oddball and maybe I should be doing that much?
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    My daily plans eventually end up being that short, but I feel like I do a lot of prep before I get to the daily plan bit. How do you make sure that you're doing all of these other things like reviewing past concepts, doing formative assessments, etc.? Do you just add them as you think of them?

    My main problem is I feel I'll forget if I don't formally plan it into my plans.
     
  6. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    Lesson plans are supposed to be for you, not evaluators, etc. . . so do what is best for you to teach your students the best you can.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I don't think you're the odd one. I haven't seen any of our other teachers doing anything near what I am currently doing. Most just write the title of their lesson into their calendar and their planning is done. But they have a lot more experience than me. Maybe they have that stuff memorized and automatically add it.
     
  8. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    If only that were the case for everyone.

    This is why it's more harmful than helpful when teachers are required to submit lesson plans in a certain format. They end up being what is not really the most helpful to that teacher.

    When I had to do it for every freaking lesson during student teaching, I would submit the lesson plan for "them" and then make my own for me. :unsure:

    Personally, I never put the "standards" on my own lesson plans. Redundant at best. I know the material and what I want the students to learn and think about. Really just need the larger goal/theme and a very general procedure list for reminder.

    But yeah, ideally, the lesson plan should just be anything that helps you as a unique teacher do what you do best on that day.
     
  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I do my brief overviews as a monthly calendar so I know where we're heading. My warm-up is where I use formative assessments mostly. We do journals, questions on the white boards, etc... So instead of a journal it may say QOTD (question of the day) as a grammar warm up.

    I don't really review past concepts in literature the way you might in science. Tomorrow we'll do a brief review of theme. They worked on it in previous years but I want to review my expectations. Then they'll break into groups to practice on the story we just finished. I'll grade for completion and see if there are any areas that need further review. Mostly it just builds though. I expect their answers to gain sophistication as the year goes on. They get better at citing textual evidence as I continue to emphasize it and use it in different ways.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    My lesson plans get a little easier to write and a little less detailed every year. At this point, my lesson plans are basically an objective, bullet points of specific activities, and a few questions that I want to make sure I ask.
     
  11. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    My lesson plans are very simple. Very simple.

    If I was working on a unit about domestic animals (totally made up) my plans would look something like this:

    Tuesday - bellwork - list the domestic animals you or your extended family own
    direct instruction, stop powerpoint after pets
    Venn diagram on dogs vs. cats
    graph bellwork data
    partner work, memory game with chapter vocab.
    homework - research five benefits to having pets
     
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I figured I was probably driving myself nuts here. I've got to find a way to streamline.
     
  13. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Our daily lessons are in a required district format that must include:
    specific TEKS (our state standards)-- selected from a digital checklist
    the "big ideas" for the unit (provided by the district curriculum guide)
    essential questions (provided by the district curriculum guide)
    content objectives,
    language objectives,
    academic vocabulary,
    differentiation strategies (based on a list provided by the district)
    resources/tools/technology,
    lesson procedures
    evaluation (formal or informal)

    It's a complex format, and when we first started it, I took hours to finish mine each week. Now it comes much easier...
     
  14. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Maybe it's because I teach Math, but my outcomes seem to flow from one to another based on the unit we're doing. So, for me, I review past concepts when teaching a new concept. Kinda like, "Hey, do you remember the other day when we did this? How did we do that? Ok, now we're going to take that and add another step".

    As far as formative assessments, I do them after every couple of outcomes. They usually get one or two per week. We've covered adding and subtracting fractions? Lets do an assessment before we move on to multiplying and dividing.

    Really, that's what my lesson plans end up being. A checklist of things I want to do that day.

    Just be careful of overplanning. A lot of great things can happen organically and I would hate for you (and the kids) to miss out on something because you felt you needed to follow the plan.
     
  15. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Yes. Only because of my school's ridiculous demands.
     
  16. TamaraF

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    My lesson plans are very, very brief. If I need to, I can put a long formal one together to be evaluated, but at this point in my career, I just don't need to do that for myself. My long-range plans include Desired Outcomes, basic units to cover, and types of evaluation. My daybook simply lists assignments. So for tomorrow, it says "read "Lamb to the Slaughter". Discuss irony. Assign questions 1-3". I know I will be reading aloud, discussing character motivation, unfamiliar vocab. I don't need to write that all down.
     
  17. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I think that's fine for a beginning teacher. It's always better to be over prepared than under. As you have the same prep for more than one year, you won't have to do this each year.
     
  18. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Mine are more like this.

    I'm self-contained. There's no way I have time to write long, detailed lesson plans for every subject I teach, since I teach all subjects. I would drive myself crazy. :dizzy:
     
  19. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    That's a lot what mine look like. Just works the best for me.
     
  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Our lesson plans have to be written so that if anyone were to come into the room and read them they'd know exactly what we were doing and what materials were needed. If they were ONLY for me I wouldn't have to write them at all. I'd just know what I was doing.
     
  21. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    Sigh. It's gonna be a nice day when teachers become trusted.
     
  22. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Trusted with what? Their lessons?
     
  23. teacherguy111

    teacherguy111 Cohort

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    Mine are not very complex at all. Actually all I do is go to my class website,that students and parents check, and do my planning straight onto there.
    Then I include pdf's, google docs and word docs for anything that we used in class that day.
     
  24. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    Trusted enough to be able to write their own lesson plans in the way they prefer. That would be a good start.
     
  25. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Many of us are. All three schools I've been in allowed me to do my lesson plans however I wanted.
     
  26. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    ICAM.

    My problem with having to write super complex LPs, then having to post them online and print them out for our desk is that no one checks them more than twice a year (during Mid-Year and End-Of-Year Evaluations). Other than that, there is no feedback.

    So what is the point of Admin demanding that I write 5 page plans when Admin doesn't read them? It's just another "gotcha" thing, IMO.
     
  27. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Unfortunately, the state told us to change our lesson plans so we can't do them the way we want even if the principal said it was ok. Also, some people weren't doing them at all so it spoiled it for those of us who were so now they have to be available for anyone to see.
     
  28. cutelilram

    cutelilram Rookie

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    I teach in NYS and I have not been told that the state wants us to do lesson plans a certain way. As per our contract, no one can tell us how to do lesson plans, unless you are rated ineffective. We have to have them but they could be written however we like and can even be written on napkins (I would never do that). I struggle with writing long lesson plans too and I really don't want to anymore. It is time consuming, nobody looks at them except for once or twice a year, and I am tired of spending upwards of 8 hours planning for a week when things change.
     
  29. TeacherNY

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    I work in a private school and although NYS did not give us a lesson plan template they did say they did not like the one we were using. I think our old template did not have a column for the state standards so we added that. I don't know who it is exactly but people from the state come to our school several times per year. We have no control over it.
     
  30. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    The only lesson plan I wrote so far was for a week and it was about half a page typed up.

    I think writing complex lesson plans are a huge waste of my time. I spend lots of time planning but only need a few notes to remind me what to do for the day. I then go back and write up a longer version so the "suits" are happy. Even then, I am told they're not detailed enough.
     
  31. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I can fit a whole day's worth of lessons on one sheet of paper. We have to fill in little boxes for each period. I don't think they're that detailed but anyone with common sense can look at the paper and be able to tell what i'm going to teach. I think I have it easy compared to others.
     
  32. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    My school requires very detailed plans. One day of one prep is a full page. They have to have the standards, learning goal, technology, materials, ESE/504 accommodations, list of lessons & activities (which have to have descriptions), questions we're going to ask, differentiation methods, and type of assessment for each activity.

    Now that I have an actual partner to work with, it takes 1.5-2 hours to plan for the full week. The only part of the lesson plans that really burns me up is describing the activities (I thought plans were for me & I know how to do those activities!) and pre-planning the questions (because each class is different).

    For the record, admin, um, grades our lesson plans so we know if they're done correctly or not.
     
  33. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Okay. I re-assessed what was necessary, and what was not. I've simplified my plans to a point where I am comfortable with them.

    I'm keeping the unit mapping (it's just useful for me and my students to describe how everything we're learning links together). And I've modified the Unit Sequencer.

    I've gotten rid of the whole Broad Lesson Planner, and just added a portion to my Unit Sequencer for Link-Assessment-Review, where I link past ideas, describe how to assess a concept, and how we're going to review it. This takes care of ensuring that I do the teaching best practices without having to retype everything up multiple times and attach standards.

    I've cut my daily lesson planner into something much smaller and compact.

    The mapping and the sequencing can be done way ahead of time, even before the year starts, for all of my units. Using the sequencer I can create materials for an entire half-unit before the unit is even started, and then the week before I can just fill out the new simple daily planner. These plans can be copy and pasted into the calendar for parents and my reference.
     

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