Saturday, September 7, 2013

MSSunFun: Lesson Planning

I've mentioned in previous posts that we use a backwards design in our planning.  Our district also provides a highly developed curriculum plan, including a calendar with suggested topics for each school day.  A district coach attends many of our PLC meetings and provides great ideas as well as feedback on our PLC work.  Our planning is very structured.  This is only my second year in this district and the structured planning has been the biggest difference from all the previous 30 years of teaching!

I sometimes feel boxed in because I want to slow down the curriculum.  Other times I feel great relief that I don't have to plan anything by myself.  Sometimes I want to introduce ideas I'm learning from the MTBoS.  Other times, I just want to go with the flow.  Do you see a pattern here?

In our PLC, our typical planning cycle follows these steps:

  1. Review the curriculum guide to determine what standards in the unit
  2. Create the unit test; evaluate the test to determine how the standards are addressed
  3. Assign the tasks of creating a B version of the test, a retake version, and common formative assessments.
  4. Divde the unit into teaching days; create lesson plans with activities for those days; share the plans; discuss instructional strategies
  5. Teach the unit; compare results on assessments

Obviously I participate in those procedures.  After daily plans are in the folders, I review the plans and determine if I want to substitute activities for the ones posted based on the needs of my students (and my own teaching style).  I might change activities based on how the previous day's learning occurs.

This is also where my goal for this year to develop and promote student curiosity comes in.  I want to take time for noticing and wondering.  I want to post rich, worthwhile problems.  I want to ask better questions.  I also want to talk less ... so my students are doing the work.  If I change any of the activities, I share my ideas with our PLC.

After I make my adjustments, I create a teaching outline (my version of a lesson plan).  I estimate how much time I want to spend on each section.  I post the outline on the board as our agenda for the day.

As I think about the outline, I consider these steps:

  • Enroll ... an invitation to learn
  • Experience ... an activity that introduces the concept before "teaching" the details
  • Label ... these are notes with examples
  • Demonstrate ... students demonstrate that they understand the concepts labeled
  • Review ... often brief, what did we learn today; or possibly a short review from the day before ... sometimes at the beginning of class; sometimes in the middle or end
  • Celebrate ... this is not really last ... it happens throughout the lesson ... and occurs during formative assessment activities ... celebrating students' success
I am also considering how technology can enhance or transform my lesson.  We have a one-to-one initiative and so the use of laptops are encouraged.  This year I am introducing Desmos to my students.  Before the laptops were distributed, I was demonstrating with Desmos ... the administrator that walked through that day liked it :)  Desmos is a powerful tool ... I hope to learn more about using it!

I value planning!  The more I read, study, think about planning the better!  I often put together lessons, then revise, revise, revise!  In truth, I find it difficult to turn off the planning thoughts!  How about you??

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