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Lesson Planning: reality vs. expectation

Last Spring, when states hit on the idea of having teachers turn in lesson plans for community review, there was a lot of push-back from educators. It’s not just a knee-jerk reaction against being micro-managed, or against feeling judged. Asking teachers to write the instrument that will be used to de-professionalize them and provide ammunition to people looking for reasons to harrass them is unpleasant enough. The time and effort to produce “formal” lesson plans is INTENSE.

This blog does an amazing run-down of the thought process and time involved: https://braveintheattempt.com/2018/05/27/creating-the-perfect-lesson-plan-10-steps-8-essential-elements/

Notice how many of those steps involve knowing your students’ needs. Knowing their IEP/504 is the bare minimum. Knowing the inerpersonal connections within the class, which groups need hands on & movement, which groups need quieter atmospheres all goes into it. Some of my classes won’t get it until we build a model or color a diagram or act it out. Some of my classes would get so bogged down in the process of the activity or the chaos created by moving around, that they would lose the content completely. That’s two different lesson plans for the same day. I teach 3 preps next year. 3 x 180= 540 plans. I average 5-6 kids per class who need modifications. Those aren’t separate plans, but they are an extra element.

Let’s look at the BARE MINIMUM of my thought process:

  1. What is the text for the day? (ELA- no textbook, must find a text to use. Is content appropriate? Do we have enough copies of the book? Is the web-based resource one we subscribe to (Albert.io, CommonLit, NewsELA, IXL)? Is the reading level appropriate for my students? Who will need scaffolding to comprehend? Who will need scaffolding to analyze?)
  2. What are the skills I need to teach? Do I need direct instruction? What modeling do I need? How does this text support that skill? What features does it have that can be emphasized or used?
  3. What tasks can we complete to demonstrate mastery of the content and the skill? Do I need multiple tasks? Do I need modifications of the same task?
  4. How will I assess this learning?
  5. What comes next? How does this build into unit plans?
  6. How can I re-loop skills we need more practice with?
  7. What can I do for students who miss this lesson?
  8. How do I provide extra challenge or extra support?
  9. How long will this take and do I have all the materials?

Multiply that times 540, and know that several of those questions can’t be fully answered until the year has already started.

THEN- If your admin is picky, you have to put all that into a special format and pile on the jargon, objective and standards codes, etc.

If you’re lucky, it can be an outline that makes sense to you on a legal pad. Or on a website like planbook.com or commoncurriculum.com (both are excellent). Commoncurriculum even has a way to share a link to your pretty plan.

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