New Teacher - How the Heck do I Create Lessons?!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by I<3Literature, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    Aug 8, 2017

    Good morning all, so happy I joined!

    Well, to start off, I just got hired about a week ago. In July of last year I graduated with an English degree, and took three education courses during that time (which I unfortunately feel taught me NOTHING). Later that year, in August through December, I interim subbed for a teacher on maternity leave. I panicked the entire time, but the kids loved me and I loved the job (and them) by the end...it was hard to leave! The teacher who I subbed for left me all of her plans and activities from day one to the last day - I was thrilled!

    And now here I am, after that long spiel, with a job beginning soon, and I have no idea how to lesson plan. Someone please give me advice and help! How do you decide what to teach your students?! I can't believe my teaching courses never sat down with us and said "this is how you actually plan lessons for the year".

    I can't stand feeling like I have no clue what I'm doing, and want to cry daily (I'm dramatic sometimes, I know). I also know it's time to just throw myself into my own class, because that's what we do for real experience.

    Thank you for reading, and I appreciate you all!
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Aug 8, 2017

    Give us a little more information, and we'll be able to point you to some resources. What grade levels are you teaching? Do you have a textbook? What's the core lit in your district? Does your state have a beginning teacher support program, or will your school assign you a mentor?

    In the meantime, here's a link to the ELA section of the Teaching Channel: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos?categories=subjects_english-language-arts
     
  4. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    Thank you for the quick response!

    I'm teaching 8th grade English in Broward County, Florida. There is a teacher support program, called NESS last year (they changed the name this year). New teachers to the school were actually invited to meet the staff yesterday. I spoke to a few veteran teachers, and let them know I needed assistance planning. They mentioned we plan together to an extent (this frightens me because each grade level and subject planned together at my interim school!)
    I know this school is amazing and I will be well supported, but I just want to collect as much information as possible and to feel *ready*. They mentioned I will have a mentor as well.
    We're using the textbook called "Collections" which is the same I used last year.
     
  5. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Aug 8, 2017

    I would start with the state standards first. In fact, the state ELA standards webpage may have some lesson plans you could adapt.
     
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  6. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Aug 8, 2017

    Also google 8th grade ela unit of study. A lot will come up you can use for guidance in organizing a lesson. You might even fine some units you want to use.
     
  7. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    Aug 8, 2017

    My district has a curriculum map for all grade levels. Within the curriculum map, they have the standards we have to use written into it. And there is a pacing guide. This helps if you're a brand new teacher. Depending on what section of Language Arts you teach, you can adjust how long certain things take. I've taught 8th grade for the last few years. I taught the intensive section so obviously my kids take a bit longer. These things help lesson plans
     
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  8. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Collections is a comprehensive text. My district piloted it one semester and didn't choose it, but I recall that the teacher's edition had plenty of guidance.
     
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  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm curious...how would you have answered this as an interview question: how do you plan for instruction?
     
  10. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2017

    I will not be alone, thankfully. My current school seems to support their new teachers very well (I simply want to get as much information as possible before I even begin on Monday).

    I will certainly look further into our state standards pages online - I came across a few helpful sites while searching, and think I've been so overwhelmed that I haven't devoted much time to them yet.

    I'm sure you're right, Teacherhere. I'm just an odd case that has had more experience in classroom management through subbing and interim subbing (with the same students for five months) and NO experience building lessons to teach each week. I know, however, I still need guidance in management despite having the most experience in that part of teaching. I have a lot to work on my first year :)

    I truly appreciate each of your responses.
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 9, 2017

    I had a student teacher last year who was a few months away from graduating and receiving his credentials; he had never been taught how to plan--either long-term or short-term. It is frightening that there are a batch of people starting their teaching careers without this basic skill (no offense, this is a fault of programs, not you).

    For what it's worth, this is how I plan:

    1. year-long outline--I start with the standards and think about when I'm going to teach what. Some units/texts lend themselves better to a certain time of year.
    2. unit plans for each unit of study--Your unit plans will outline the lessons you will teach, your assessment (diagnostic, formative, summative), and the length of the unit
    3. daily lesson plans--These will detail specifically what will happen in the lesson. Start with the learning target and success criteria and think about what you will be doing and what the students will be doing. As you are just starting out, your daily plans should be very detailed--include the examples you will use, the questions you'll ask, etc. (I've been at this quite a while, my daily plans are just an outline, but I didn't start that way)

    I need to hand in my long-term plans (#1) within the first month or so of school. My unit plans, and 3 days of daily plans must be on my desk at all times. In many schools, teachers need to submit plans to the principal; be sure to find out specifically what the requirements are for this.

    Before you do too much planning, find out how much freedom you have. I have complete freedom and flexibility with resources and timelines, as long as I cover all of the standards; in many places, teachers have a strict curriculum and pacing that they need to follow.

    When are you able to get your hands on the textbook? When will you meet your mentor? When does school start? Ask questions, but don't expect others to do all (or even some) of your planning for you. Instead of saying that you need help planning, rough out some ideas and ask someone if they can take a quick look to see if you are on the right track. Everyone is much more willing to be helpful if you are meeting them with a starting point.
     
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  12. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I found in my program, the school took anyone and you got out of it what you put into it. I had people in my classes who couldn't read.
     
  13. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    Thank you so much MrsC, that clarified a lot for me. I'll certainly put your tips to use!

    I think one if my biggest issues is the fact that I didn't take part in a solid education program, as my degree was in English - Florida doesn't push you towards an education degree if you go into teaching (which I now see is, simply put, is kind of a bad idea). I took, along with my other classes, Intro to Education, Educational Technology, and Diversity in the classroom. I was sure Intro to Education would've given me the tools to plan and be successful, but the professor basically made it the same course as Diversity in the Classroom.

    Currently, before the kids come in on August 21st, I'm reading The Classroom Management Book by the Wong's.
     
  14. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    With what they pay adjunct professors, I'm not surprised they wouldn't want to prep more than one course and use it for both.
     
  15. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    Very true, AlwaysAttend. Adjuct professors aren't paid nearly what they should be.
     
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  16. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Aug 19, 2017

    I actually think, and was always taught, that it's the exact opposite. A strong, engaging lesson plan is the foundation for good classroom management.
     
  17. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    I use Collections for 6th grade and I suggest you log on to the teacher's edition and read through Collection 1 (assuming your district has set you up for it). It comes with a pacing guide. There are a lot of good guiding questions with the readings. Once you know what the theme for Collection 1 is you can also work on locating Newsela articles as supplemental reading. Collections can be very challenging for the students, and I supplemented with a lot of materials, but it lays a good foundation.

    With the reading quizzes that come with the text selections I would not recommend giving them as actual quizzes, but I found them to be good class work especially if you have students work together and have them indicate on the quiz where in the text they find the answer. It's good practice for citing text evidence.

    So, my advice is, if you don't have all your Collections materials yet, get those as soon as possible and then explore Collection 1.
     
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  18. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Aug 23, 2017

    If it's a truly engaging lesson, then management takes care of itself because the kids are engaged in learning.
    But I get what you're saying. What should be an engaging lesson can fail if the teacher cannot implement the lesson effectively due to a poorly managed classroom.
     
  19. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Right, but my point is that most behavior issues arise due to kids being bored or disengaged from the learning process. Well-planned, engaging, purposeful lessons will reduce behavior issues right from the start, IMO. It's the reason some kids are so good in their fine arts or vocational classes, but are holy terrors in some of their core academic classes that often rely on less engaging tasks and lessons. Even teachers with rock solid classroom management skills will butt heads with these students and have issues with them because the kids are simply not interested in the content or structure of the lessons.
     
  20. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    Aug 31, 2017

    Now that I've started the year, that's excellent advice. The book seems really helpful! I'll also keep the quizzes in mind for classwork.
    Thank you!
     
  21. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    We have the Collections series. It maps out the entire year with detailed plans. I teach 8th grade, too.

    I don't, however, use those. Well, not all, anyway.

    I first mapped out the year using the state standards, so I have my entire year already planned out with the standards. Next, I made the assessments. Finally, I made chose the text and made lessons. There are tons of sites around to help. Common Lit, Achieve the Core, ReadWorks, NewsELA. Those are a few.

    And classroom management will not take care of itself with an engaging lesson. I spend a lot of time teaching procedures and expectations before things get going with the lessons.
     
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  22. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    That's exactly what I want to do! The teacher's at my current school are discouraging me from this, and claiminf I should plan "a week at a time" which I find insane.

    What is your advice on choosing when the standards will be taught?
    How do you really make the lessons and decide what should be taught? Does the book help with that?
    I guess my basic question is just how do I do I plan long term, making sure I address each standard, and how do I decide what to assign them to make sure the lesson Is teaching the standard, just common sense? Does it matter in what order we teavh that standards, as long as we address them?
    I'm ready to plan and be prepared this weekend!!!
    t t
     
  23. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    What is your advice on choosing when the standards will be taught?
    We have to teach reading, writing, speaking/listening, and language standards. The reading ones are out main focus with writing being second. Each unit really includes all of the standards, so it is just a matter of choosing when we want to assess for mastery. Otherwise, I don't really think it matters. I've planned my units so that certain things fall at certain times of the year. That's just my preference. I like to match the social studies or science when I can.

    How do you really make the lessons and decide what should be taught? Does the book help with that?
    You could, theoretically, just open the book and teach. It has the pacing guides, the lessons, even differentiated ones. I'm on year 25, so I don't really go by a book. I use it as a springboard for my lessons, but I don't actually follow their pacing or use the materials all that much.

    . . . making sure I address each standard, and how do I decide what to assign them to make sure the lesson Is teaching the standard, just common sense?
    Some of that just comes with experience. And some is just common sense. For instance, last week my focus was on figurative language. We are using the "Culture and Belonging" theme from the Collections book for the first unit. I have brought in a lot of extra materials about immigration and how people assimilate into a new culture. This week we read a short story with a character who was an immigrant. We talked about the overall theme, plot structure in general, and then I assessed them on their ability to identify and analyze figurative language. Next week the focus is on theme, and I'll be looking at songs by a variety of musicians, discussing their cultural backgrounds, and then assessing with a story.
     
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  24. I<3Literature

    I<3Literature Rookie

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    Thank you for taking the time to respond so thoroughly to each of my questions! Your students are incredibly lucky to have you, complete with your apparent dedication.

    I feel much more comfortable beginning my planning with your advice, along with a few video explanations! Standards initially intimidated me, but I'm gradually getting more excited about bringing in my own resources and articles.

    Thanks again :)
     
  25. alp123

    alp123 Companion

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    Sep 4, 2017

    I'm in the same b
    I'm in the same boat! My background is in primary grades and this school doesn't use the text very much. There are two of us teaching 7/8 ELA and my lead is a brand new teacher with a multiple subject as well. (I have a supplemental in ELA not single subject.) I do have pacing guides, standards, etc. Luckily, the school seem pretty flexible as far as what we can use to supplement as
    long as we are hitting standards. My weekly plans must be on my desk at all times. I understand wanting to go in with some ideas, but where do you start? We have very little to zero support, no mentors, both ELA teachers left! Yikes!! Let me know if you come up with any useful sites on lessons and I will do the same!
    I've been scouring the internet for help and asking friends who teach ELA in ms. It's a learning process and will take time. :)
     

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