New: Lesson Planning or Teacher Textbook

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by SUNEISHA, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. SUNEISHA

    SUNEISHA Rookie

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    Mar 23, 2009

    Hello - I am hoping to seek anyone's advice. I'm gearing up for my first year of teaching this coming fall. I applied for one of those alternative licensure programs to teach SPED in an urban district, and I will be completing my MA on top of it.

    Needless to say, I'm both excited but nervous about this new path in my life. After serving in the business world for umpteen years, I finally feel like I'll be serving a purpose, however, I know it requires a lot of work.

    So, there are a lot of 'what-ifs' with this program. I guess my main concern is lesson planning. Please forgive me. I have never taken a teaching course before, and despite a couple of classroom observations, I don't know how it all works. Are teachers required to compile an entirely new lesson plan from scratch for each class they teach? Or, do they have special teacher's textbooks from which to teach? Any advice would be much appreciated. If you all could give me some idea of how you structure your day...what an average 'class period' looks like from start to finish...good resources..tips...anything. Thanks much.
     
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  3. Kris8806

    Kris8806 Companion

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    Mar 23, 2009

    It depends on the school you end up at.

    In my old school, we were required to write very general lesson plans. What we were working on that day (for example: Multiplying three digit numbers), then we would write how we intended to assess that (having students complete page 126, #1-15 and check as a class) and last we'd write what the homework was, if any.

    That was just a guideline of where I should be daily. When it came to actually teaching the material I used the teacher's guide which gives you a lot of details as well as I would pre-plan any special activities or worksheets I planned to use from another source.

    I would look over the information the day or week before so I knew how the lesson would run. For example, whether I wanted to start with a graphic organizer, or a hands-on activity.

    Then again I have friends that are required to prepare extremely detailed and lengthy lesson plans that they go off of when teaching.

    Hope that helps.... :)
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 23, 2009

    At my school we must have lesson plans for every lesson every day. My plans really look more like an agenda--there's basically a list of activities we'll be doing each period, like "Introduction to the pluperfect tense, conjugation relays, review lesson 35 vocab, flyswatter game, begin translating Aeneas Ad Inferos" or something like that. I generally fit an entire week's plan for one course on one sheet of paper.

    Some schools require teachers to have more formal plans. Those sorts of plans are usually much more detailed and can be 1-5 pages per lesson. You can google "hunter lesson plans" for some samples.

    Some teacher's manuals have lesson plans designed to accompany each unit; some don't. My textbooks don't have any lesson plans with them.

    Even so, I don't usually design plans from scratch. I steal plans from all over teh interwebz and from other teachers in my subject area. I take the parts I like and use them, toss out the parts I don't like, and add my own stuff too.

    Lesson planning can be tricky at first. It took me a while to get the hang of it. The most difficult part for me seems to be figuring out how long to spend on each component of the lesson--what I expect to take 5 minutes might end up taking 20, or the other way around. That sort of thing just comes with experience, I think. I'm much better these days at estimating how long a given activity will take.

    Here are my recommendations:

    Use Google. A lot. Google stuff like "[your subject area] lesson plans" and "[your subject area] curriculum map"....You'll find tons of stuff.

    Before you start lesson planning, figure out what big things you need to cover during the year. Try to create a curriculum map with those major topics in mind. An easy way to do this is to assign particular topics to each week or month or quarter, i.e. September: parts of speech, present and future tense; October: perfect tense, gods and goddesses, indirect statement....

    Keep all your lessons in one folder, either on the computer or in a binder.

    Near your lesson plans (either on the computer or in a binder), keep a journal. Write in it every day about how your lessons went. What sorts of questions did the students ask? Were you stumped at any point during the lesson? What sorts of behaviors and facial expressions did you see (i.e. confusion, apathy)? What went well? What could be improved? Your journal entry doesn't need to be more than a few sentences, but it can be as long as you want. I think that you'll find your journal to be very useful down the road because you can use it to recognize patterns and make adjustments to your teaching as appropriate.
     
  5. Kris8806

    Kris8806 Companion

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    Mar 23, 2009

    OOOOooo I like the idea of a journal. I used to jot down on the margins of my lessons if something didn't work but this is much more organized. I'll definitely use that when I get a job. :D
     
  6. SUNEISHA

    SUNEISHA Rookie

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    Mar 23, 2009

    Kris and Cassie - bless your hearts! This is seriously very very helpful advice to a newbie teacher. As I mentioned, this is an entirely new transition for me. And, I'm about to go from a fairly lucrative job to teaching. As I get older, I'm beginning to realize more and more where my true passions lie, and that money is not the prime motivating factor in life.

    It's just so scary to begin an entirely new career and starting from scratch, on top of taking out $40k in student loans again.

    I think the alternative teaching cert programs are great for individuals who already have their BA in something other than education, but it also means losing out on the core aspect of student teaching, something I will not have the benefit of.

    The program I'm going through basically 'throws you in the ring,' and you practice teach throughout the year...all alone, albeit with a mentor 2 hours a week.

    So, I'm just really scared that I'm going to fail my students, that I'm going to make a ton of mistakes, that I won't be able to take on the full workload, that I'll come out of this experience with a nervous breakdown. I know it's tough for any teacher just beginning, and I'm so grateful for stumbling upon this form. If anything can be said of teachers, it's that they're so helpful in taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer a question from a stranger like me. I certainly hope that ten years into the profession, I can be someone's guiding light.

    So, my thanks again, and I plan on posting to this forum quite a bit in my early years : )

    So, what you two said in regards to lesson planning, it appears as though it's fairly simplistic? I guess I'm just worried because I sit in my chair until midnight googling away at sample lesson plans, and they all look so complex, some of which are three pages long. How the heck can a teacher manage writing a lesson plan for each subject he/she teaches every day?!?! That's why I posed the question. I wanted to get a gauge on what a teacher does on a day-to-day basis. So, if anybody else has other words of wisdom please share! Thanks again.
     
  7. SUNEISHA

    SUNEISHA Rookie

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    Mar 23, 2009

    I forgot to ask...at your individual schools, what direction are you given, if any at all? How do you know 'what to teach?' These are very beginner questions I realize, and I almost feel silly for asking them, but it is what it is : )
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 23, 2009

    I guess I wouldn't say that it's fairly simplistic. I would say that lesson planning is pretty involved and time-consuming, but it gets easier with practice.

    You'll want to write longer plans in the beginning. Longer plans will help you make sure that you include everything you need to. As you get more comfortable with the ins and outs of teaching a lesson, you can start to leave that stuff out. You'll want to make sure that each lesson has these components:

    Objectives. Why are you teaching this material? What should students be able to do at the end of it? You should have content objectives (stuff related to your content area like English or Science or whatever) and language objectives (stuff to help students build their writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills).

    Materials. Make a list of all the stuff you'll need for the lesson. Books, copies, LCD projector, lentils, whatever. :) Having a list of these items will help you be more organized.

    Building background/review. You need to assess your students' prior knowledge and use that knowledge as a bridge to the new material.

    Modeling. You need to explicitly show students how to do what you're teaching them.

    Guided practice and independent practice. Give students a chance to practice the new stuff with you around to very closely monitor what they're doing.

    Check for understanding. Find out if students are getting it. Ask questions, and not just yes/no questions. Give wait time--when you ask a question, count to 10 before you expect an answer. Observe students while they're practicing--see what patterns/errors you notice.

    Closure. Tie up the activity. Make sure students can summarize what they've just learned. You might try a "ticket out the door" activity where students need to tell you what they learned or what questions they still have before they're allowed to leave class.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 23, 2009

    They're not silly questions at all! :haha:

    If you teach in a public school, you will almost certainly have a set of standards to teach over the course of the year. My standards look like this:

    1.1 The student will practice the sounds of the Latin language.
    2.4 The student will respond to simple instructions.


    How you teach those standards is up to you and your school or district. At my school I pretty much have complete autonomy over how I teach my material. I'm the only Latin teacher, so I don't have to worry about keeping up with other teachers or making sure that my students get to a particular point by the end of the year--I'll have them next year, so we can start wherever we need to next year.

    Other teachers, however, especially in core subject areas, are tied more to a set curriculum, mainly so that they can be sure that what they're doing in their Algebra I classes are the same things that Mr. M's Algebra I classes are doing. Your school will let you know how things are done at your school and in your department as far as all that goes.
     
  10. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Mar 23, 2009

    It's also very dependent on the school. We're required to have lesson plans turned in, but they can be extremely brief. Mine are typically just a topic for the day, such as "Landmark Supreme Court Cases - PowerPoint/Discussion"

    As for my own plans, I also basically jot down an agenda... a step by step list of what I plan to do. But that's usually just a few lines. This is leaps and bounds less than the detailed plans I had to do in my college EDUC programs.

    It may seem like you missed out on a lot (and you did), but as to lesson planning, I found that much of what I learned in college was not useful. I haven't ever used the "Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan" format, or anything of the sort. If I did, I'd be writing 3 page lesson plans for each lesson, for each class. That's just not reasonable, or even needed for most. None of the teachers in my building do that either.

    The idea is to simply know: what you want to teach, why you need to teach it (standards/curriculum), how you want to teach it, and finally how you plan to assess it. If you plans cover that, you're fine....
     
  11. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Mar 23, 2009

    Suneisha- Your questions aren't silly at all! Lesson plans get easier to write with practice. I used to write lesson plans for practicums that were multiple pages for one single lesson. Once I got into student teaching, I started using a lesson plan book that you can find in most teacher stores. I currently type mine and use them as a guide, but I also am flexible and know, as Cassie said, that my plans might take longer or shorter amounts of time than I anticipate.

    I follow the curriculum set by my district. I have core curriculum content standards for the state of NJ as well as district objectives and units to cover. You will learn about this as you get a job and get introduced to the school where you will work. Do you know what grade level(s) you hope to work with??

    It will be stressful at first, but if you have a strong passion for teaching, then I think you'll do just fine! Remember to vent to us and ask lots of questions...and always remember you will always be learning. I'm in my 6th year teaching and I'm still growing as a teacher. Good luck!!! :D
     
  12. SUNEISHA

    SUNEISHA Rookie

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    Mar 24, 2009

    Cassie, Ron and Leigh – thank you again for answering my inquiries. Like I said, my questions are probably very infantile in nature, but I’m in the beginning stages. Ron hit the nail on the head when he said I missed out on some key components of lesson planning by going through an alternative cert program. I believe that’s important.

    Cassie – your breakdown on the components of a lesson plan and how you customize it for you was great! I actually copied and pasted it into my resource binder. So, now you know that your advice will always be with me for years to come : ) it seems to me that most of you utilize lesson planning more so for your own benefit as a teacher (i.e. as a guide) as well as fulfilling the obligations imposed upon you by your respective schools.

    I reviewed the Hunter model time and time again, which is helpful as a guide, but like Ron said, it’s pretty involved. I honestly don’t see how teachers are expected to keep up with all of that on top of TEACHING!

    Leigh – I plan on working in SPED at a high school…restrictive placement, so my situation is going to probably be even more involved. I’m scared senseless about everything that’s to come. thank you so much for your words of encouragement and wisdom. I look forward to ‘bumping’ into everyone again as I plan on utilizing this wonderful forum quite a bit for the first few years ahead.
     
  13. maestra121

    maestra121 Rookie

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    Mar 26, 2009

    Suneisha, I wanted to wish you the best of luck in your first year of teaching, I'm also hoping to start my first year of teaching Kindergarden this Sept 09, and your concerns are the sames as mine. Although I subed for almost 2 years, I been confussed on doing Lesson plans, since I went through the alternate route here in NJ I didnt ST. I used the internet, bought books and asked co-teachers to show me their lesson plans but they were all so different, so I'll have to adjust and learn to make mine, lets hope I can do it. Once again best of luck, and Ill also be checking back to see how your new year is going :)
    Laura
     
  14. SUNEISHA

    SUNEISHA Rookie

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    Mar 27, 2009

    Laura, thanks so much. So, you know what I'm going through! The alternative cert programs are great, in that they provide another means for more tenured employees in different fields to pursue their passion, but this route also leaves so many questions unanswered. I'm about to embark on an entirely new endeavor, and in many cases, I'm, like, "Where the heck do I even begin?"

    I won't lie. It's been real rough, and I hope I survive : ) I wish you the best of luck too!

    I plan on clinging to resource mentors and this forum for the coming year. Thanks again!
     
  15. jennyjenjen

    jennyjenjen Rookie

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    Apr 1, 2009

    Suneisha,

    You might want to take some time to assess your students before jumping in to teach them. I'm a first year special ed. teacher, rarely can I teach a "one size fits all" lesson for my mild/moderate high school students. There is such a wide range of abilities that I usually have to group the students. So if we were going to read a story or a chapter I would have my assistant (do you get an aide?) read/monitor with the higher students and have a comprehension writing assignment for them or a worksheet. I would work with the lower readers (I end up reading a lot of our material to them) making sure that they understand what we are reading by asking questions and teaching 1 minute mini lessons while we are reading; I also have them complete a comprehension worksheet but it is usually more basic.

    If you have an aide, it is ok to expect them to work with small groups of students, they are there to help you teach. You might want to add in your lesson plans what you will have your aide do, sometimes it might just be sitting with one or two high need students.

    I hope this helps!
     
  16. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Apr 12, 2009

    Make sure you look at the source of some of the super-long plans - a lot of times they are written by students completing an ed. program, or as a sample for a portfolio. That doesn't mean they write them that way all the time! I teach HS, and they want a week's worth at a time for each class. I do standards (these are what the state wants), objectives (students will be able to . . . ), materials, and daily activities, including preclass, main activity and homework. In our building they don't actually care if you're in the "right place," they just want to see that you've thought about what you're going to do (so if Monday's plan turns out to run into Tuesday and part of Wednesday, you won't get into trouble).
     
  17. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Apr 13, 2009

    I think the most important thing to remember is "Assessment Drives Instruction." I had a professor who made us repeat this daily, and I can't tell you how true it is.

    Let me break it down a little. My district has a basil for teaching Language Arts. If I wanted to, I could open up to the next page in the teacher manual and teach directly from it. However, my students are very high this year. The material in the basil is way too easy for them. As a result, I spend a ton of time each week coming up with my own lessons.

    My district doesn't provide any teaching materials for science or social studies. We are told what we have to teach, but must come up with all of our own lessons.

    So, it all depends on the district and the school. It is overwhelming at first, but if you just take it one or two weeks at a time, you'll be ok. You always have to keep your long-term goals in mind (for you and your students), but it's too overwhelming if you think about everything you have to do all year.
     

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