Lesson Planning

Discussion in 'General Education' started by adeeb, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Dec 23, 2014

    Hi everyone,

    I am curious as to how you approach lesson planning. What websites do you use, how long does it take you, how often do you plan out your lessons each week, etc.? If there are any pain points during the lesson planning process, what are they?

    I am interested in learning more about how teachers plan out their lessons to see where and how the process can be improved. From what I've learned so far, it seems to depend on the district in which you are teaching, but I could very well be mistaken.

    I also feel that having this discussion could benefit everyone, as we can all learn from each other! :)
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 23, 2014

    Yes, it depends on the district, they often give you a pacing guide (mine doesn't), you might have to be on the same page with the other grade level teachers, you might even have to plan together, and include a lot of specific things.
    You often have textbooks to use and follow which can be good (it gives you the learning goals, and a step by step plan to follow, of course you can chose what you use and what you don't), it can also be bad because some textbooks are outdated, and if you use common core, those standards won't really match.

    I have complete freedom, and this is how I do it:
    - decide on the learning goals (you get these from your standards)
    - decide how they will be assessed formatively and summatively
    - I like to roughly plan out a unit, so I choose learning goals for the unit, not for the individual lessons.
    - then I decide what text / material I will be using for these goals and start planning overall the length of the unit, roughly what I will be covering each week and then I plan my first week.
    - I plan week by week as I go along.

    For example 3 weeks after we come back from break we will start the novel I know why the caged bird sings (Maya Angelou)
    Honestly I'm going against what I just wrote above, I started by selecting a high school novel that fist into my theme for this semester (overcoming odds). So I'll still have to decide on my goals but a lot of them can fit a novel, so I'm not worried about that.
    My lessons will include vocabulary development, they will be assess through quizzes and other assignment. We'll have discussions and analysis, and they will be assessed during class with participation, short writing responses, etc. At the end they will have an essay to write, probably a narrative of some kind.
    This is a small book, but I plan on have it taking 4-6 weeks with all the additional activities.
    I will also use a teacher guide, which will have most of the activities outlined, and I will use a lot of them.

    I like to stay flexible during the unit, because sometimes I find the students are kind of 'over it' and then I try to finish it quicker, but other times they're really into it, which means I'm adding more and more activities which could add a couple of more weeks. (for example when we read 12 Angry men, I had them watch a law and order unit and deliberate as a jury would do and then had follow up reflections, etc, which added a total of 1 week)

    My situation is probably different from a lot of other teachers because I have COMPLETE freedom, and if I wanted to have the students only write essays for the entire year, or only read stories after stories it would be ok, as long as the student interest would be up and they would be learning.
     
  4. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Dec 23, 2014

    Hi Linguist92021,

    Thank you for the insightful reply! I'm not sure how long you have been teaching, but I'd imagine that complete freedom comes with so many options. How do you figure out where to start? You mentioned that the standards help you decide on the learning goals, but how do you determine which text/material will satisfy those objectives? Or will any novel suffice in your situation?
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 23, 2014

    This is my second year at this school, but I also had a year long term assignment in a similar environment with similar expectations.

    First it was hard, I was a bit overwhelmed, because especially with English there are so many options (reading (short stories, novels), writing (essays), poetry, grammar, informational materials, and a lot of other smaller things. I'd think it's probably easier with science, history, and math.
    Then I got used to it. I make sure we have a variety, read short stories as well as some novels (this year we'll probably end up reading 3 novels and 1 play, which is the most we've ever done), they've written 1 essay, will do 2 more. Watch a couple of movies but all within the scope. Some poetry, some grammar. Then I also need to focus on CAHSEE, which we will do as soon as we get back (for 3 weeks before the CAHSEE test)

    Last year I sat down and looked at all the Common Core standards for English grades 9-12. Then I picked some from each area, and then started from there.

    How do I decide which standard goes with which materials? Some are straight forward, for example determining the central idea can be any text, determining the theme can be any story, and so on.
    The writing standards are straight forward. There are so many standards in each strand, so I just pick out the ones I want to focus on, for example they just wrote a persuasive essay, so we focused on evaluating (peer edit) and distinguishing the main claim from the counterargument, etc.
    Some are specific (drama, Shakespeare, etc) but for example a lot of speaking / listening can be applied to a lot of text.
    Does this make sense?

    What subject do you teach?
     
  6. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Dec 23, 2014

    Hi Linguist92021,

    Yes, that makes sense. Thank you for another detailed response!

    I am actually not a teacher, though I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to teach a class on Mobile App Development during my final semester in college. I had complete freedom as well, since I designed the course and the curriculum. I plan on doing some teaching in the future, after I've accumulated some substantial industry experience. I work heavily in the technology space, so my teaching would probably be in computer science, more specifically software development.

    As of now, I am looking around to see if there are any ways that the lesson planning / content preparation process can be improved. Even from my limited experience as a teacher, I learned that it can be difficult to find quality content (videos, text, music, etc.) to present to students and would like to learn about what other teachers are doing to keep their classes engaging and interesting.
     
  7. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Dec 26, 2014

    Sorry to double post, but I was hoping to get more of a discussion going around this topic. Would anyone else like to share his/her experience in lesson planning? How supportive is your district in the lesson planning process?

    Some resources that I've heard are useful for finding material are:

    BrainPop
    Discovery Education
    National Geographic
    Teachers Pay Teachers
    YouTube

    Are there any resources that you utilize to find content for your lessons?
     
  8. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Dec 27, 2014

    It does depend on where you are teaching, if there is a pacing guide, and just how detailed they want your plans to be. If it´s your first year there, the planning will take longer. It now takes me very little time to plan because I just duplicate my plans from the previous year and tweak as needed. No time at all.
     
  9. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Dec 27, 2014

    Linguist, I feel like we teach at the same school! Nice to see other english teachers with such freedom. And my planning is VERY similar.
    I try to use news stories as text often. NYtimes has free section for educators (but I have subscription - since I use so often!) I also have subscription to my own city's paper. There's really great buy in from hs students when they see it's relevant to their lives. (my students are generally not big fans of academia)

    I google topics often. I ask my students what they are interested in.
    I also plan by unit. I also start with topic/unit/ theme - what do we want to send time on
    then standards - what do I want sts to know at end of unit. I share this at start of unit with my sts, so they know why we are doing this.
    I know final assessment that will measure this and also share this with sts
    What else will sts need to know to get us there?
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 27, 2014

    :)


    I also use the news, but I download the CBS evening news (about 20 minutes), show it to students and they take notes. Usually I do this on certain days when we have a large % of students gone on fieldtrips, etc, and I don't want them to miss anything from our lessons.

    The right way to do it I feel is the way I did it in summer school, when we did news 2 days / week. I frontloaded important vocabulary terms and explained concepts (for example ISIS, etc), made sure they had background knowledge, such as showed maps of Iraq, Syria, etc, and even had them copy down words they will hear in the news so they knew how to spell it right (Arabic names, countries, towns, etc)
    Taught them how to take detailed notes (they always just want to write short sentences and consider each a note), and had discussion questions prepared. We either discussed it, or at times I just had them write their own responses. Then they chose 2 topics and wrote their own opinion, questions they had, etc.

    I don't use news from our cities because (I'm serious) 75 % of the news would include who got shot, stabbed, killed in a DUI, hit and run and how many gang members have been arrested. Sad.
     
  11. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Dec 27, 2014

    I don't really use any websites. It takes probably about 5 hours or so to fully plan a week- not including pinterest/facebook/instagram distractions and such.

    My coteacher and I sit down about once a week to plan out our objectives and who is teaching which groups, etc. That takes us about 20-30 minutes during a prep.

    I try to plan 2 weeks at a time in 1 weekend, so that gives me a free weekend. (Not usually free- there's always grading or something to be done, but a much lighter "planning" weekend.) I planned most of the 2 weeks after break before break even started so I don't have much more hanging over me right now, just a few math lessons and activities that shouldn't take too long to plan. I'm hoping to do it in about two hours tonight if I can really focus. Then I'll have a whole week to really enjoy myself.
     
  12. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Dec 27, 2014

    Thank you all for your excellent insight so far! The manner in which lesson planning is performed does indeed seem to depend on both the district/school in which you're teaching and the subject you teach.

    When I taught a class on mobile app development, I found myself using online tutorials for homework and YouTube videos for some in-class entertainment. The videos kept the students engaged and interested while teaching them a little something at the same time. Regarding the lessons, it was a learn-as-we-go type of class. We made a simple homework planning app, and during the process, as new concepts emerged, I would introduce them to the class. I believe my situation was vastly different than most teachers since the class only spanned over five weeks, and I had complete freedom.

    Due to the nature of my class, using online resources was a must. So for those that don't, or rarely, use any websites, I must ask: What do you use? Textbooks? Or have you been teaching for long enough that you already know what to do?
     
  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 27, 2014

    I can use any kind of websites I want, and I sometimes use short clips from Youtube (longer and more frequent in my Geography class), and have used Teachers pay Teachers quite a lot, mostly the free parts. (these are lesson plans and activities though, not technology included in the classroom)

    I create my own curriculum so i use a lot of text, some are novels, and others from the web, I haven't touched our textbooks this year, and hardly touched them last year.

    We don't give homework, and even if we did, it wouldn't be technology based since most students wouldn't have access to a computer, or internet at home (poverty)
     
  14. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Dec 29, 2014

    For math I have a teacher's guide. I don't follow it word for word but I use it to make questions for my lesson and to create word problems for independent practice.

    For reading I do us websites I guess to find articles when we're reading non-fiction and doing research for writing. I use NewsELA and Time for Kids. Other than that any internet resources I used would vary from week to week depending on what topics we're covering.
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Dec 29, 2014

    I start with the standards and the textbook (because it gives me a nice progression of how the standards can flow into one another). We also aren't given a pacing guide so I make up my own pacing guide based on past experiences with how long each unit will take and what I think the core concepts are and what builds on top of them.

    Then I break my units into discrete learning goals by concept. Meaning I create a mind map of all the concepts my students will need to understand for that unit to answer the main focus question of that unit.

    I sequence the learning goals in that mindmap into a progressive list, which again is organized by what I think students will need to know first then second, etc. For each learning goal I start listing the ideas of what kinds of activities, labs, projects, notes, etc. I can use to teach that learning goal.

    I will sometimes add a small sections which I call a LAR section for Link-Assessment-Review, which may make me think about how I can link this concept to past concepts in the year, how I will assess their understanding of the concepts, and how I will review it later on.

    As to where I get the ideas, I created a lot of my own materials from scratch my first year using only my textbook, and my own knowledge. I also had a lot of activities that I learned from a teacher I taught next to during my internship. I took some ideas from an afterschool program I worked for that engaged students in engineering.

    Lately, I've gotten ideas from our local science museum that hosts a program for teachers in which we go to workshops almost weekly and do a 3 week long thing over the summer.

    But yes I also look for some things online. I don't always have great success with this, since a lot of the time, the things online are geared towards higher levels, aren't geared towards US students, or require materials that I don't have access to. But I've had luck quite a few times as well. For instance, I know I will do an electroplating activity, because I've done it in the past. I had to look up how to do it in the past, but there were quite a few things wrong with it the first year. This year, I'm making changes to how to do it, that might make it better.

    This year, I am also doing a new unit on ocean acidification that I had to use NOAA for a little bit of research.

    Mostly I use Google and just search for the concepts that I'm interested in finding activities for (and may follow it up with keywords like 'lab', or 'activity').

    I only rarely use youtube, and only if I know exactly what video I'm looking for (because another teacher showed it to me).

    I very rarely take an internet resource and use it exactly as it is. I will often shorten down what is usually a huge online unit to a day's activities, or a 6-7 page worksheet and shorten it down to a single page, front and back.

    I've never used BrainPop (too childish for my age group) and I'm reluctant to use activities that require everyone to access it it from computers. While we do have a computer lab, it is difficult sometimes to get a spot to bring all 4 of my classes in there.

    I favor activities that include simple materials like card sorts that my students can cut out themselves and use for the activity. Or activities/labs that use materials I can easily purchase at a grocery store. Particularly I am also looking for a "wow" factor for these activities. I sometimes sort through boring labs where all they do is watch a vinegar and baking soda reaction, because they've all seen that, or watching ice melt, because that is BORING. Things need to change colors, explode, or it should involve hammering, fire, or electricity in some way. At least those are the labs I gravitate towards.

    I don't underestimate the textbook as a resource either. With the common core standards, it's becoming more important than ever that students are able to read a text, annotate it, and come up with a position based on evidence from text. Since the textbook has a lot of already printed information in it, including pro/con arguments, and societal connections, I tend to use it as my go-to when I think my students need a literary break from all of the hands-on science.
     
  16. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Dec 30, 2014

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks again for sharing the way you approach lesson planning! I'm learning a whole lot, and I hope that others are also picking up some tips.

    I'm looking forward to hearing some more lesson planning approaches!
     
  17. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Dec 30, 2014

    I teach self-contained elementary and have complete freedom. I do basically what Linguist described, but for reading, writing, social studies, and science (those last two alternate so I'm only teaching one of them at a time). We have a textbook for math so that process is different. I love having freedom, but it's taking me awhile to get used to. I came from a school where we used the teacher's edition/textbooks to guide our instruction in every subject.

    I pull things from all over. I use the internet extensively.
    -Teachers Pay Teachers - This gets progressively easier as I identify the upper elementary TPT sellers I like the most. Sometimes I do cold search for specific things, though.
    - Blogs - I follow several upper elementary teachers and sometimes just Google ideas and find them on blogs
    - Pinterest
    -Youtube
    -Brainpop
    -Discovery Education video (school has a subscription)
    etc etc etc....constant Google searches

    And...
    -books! Mentor texts for ELA, nonfiction books for content areas, etc. We don't have textbooks, so I'm constantly gathering other materials. Believe it or not, I love it.
     

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