As I’ve mentioned before, there was a time when I didn’t know what a lesson plan was. I’ve seen many a template in my life. One administrator asked that an overview and a formal assessment be listed and that’s all he needed. I’ve added Bloom’s, taken away Bloom’s, constructed multi-faceted objectives, written scripts, embedded links to worksheets, even described in minute detail exactly how many copies and how many markers I would need…
After many years (not that many, just 5), I have a good thing going. I determined that Skills, Objectives, Bellringer, Simple Summary, Assessment, and Bloom’s ARE important.
These are important because, as a teacher who teaches a tested subject, I am held accountable to what the state has deemed necessary to provide a good education for that particular grade. I find that physically having to comb through the skills reminds me that I AM INDEED covering all of the skills multiple times.
Some schools require objectives to be posted on the board daily. I never did that. But I ALWAYS tell my students at the beginning of class exactly what we will be doing and why we will be doing it and what it will be leading to later. It’s important not only for me to have a goal in mind, but for the students to know what will be expected of them throughout the lesson.
If I could characterize my teaching style I’d use words like spunky, quirky, silly, entertaining, and deadly-serious-about-starting-on-time. Harry Wong (yes, that is his real name) has a book called The First Days of School and you can be a hater ALL YOU WANT but that man has wisdom. My classroom has routine and structure so that we can giggle and relax — within parameters. Bellringers help me do that as it gives 1. kids a preview or reminder of the lesson, 2. me time to take attendance, give Janie her make-up bag which she keeps leaving in my room, have a talk with Timmy about why he seems mopey, or knock on the teacher’s classroom next door to ask her to watch my kids really quickly while I go to the restroom…, and 3. it. is. quiet. That’s important to me. And for students. Calm down. Get centered. Let’s start our day right. Wong says that if you do not capture their attention in first ten minutes, you’ll spend the next 55 trying (and failing to do so). And he ain’t wrong.
Every teacher has their lessons and script totally figured out in their head. They know which PowerPoint they’re using, which worksheet to pick up, and what kind of exit slip they’re going to use. However, when you’re also juggling attendance, after-school functions, grading, and all the other things we do, sometimes things slip out of the mind… that’s why it’s just smart business to write down the most important bits.
Obviously, your administrator wants you to be specific so he or she can see what you’re doing, but don’t just do it for them… do it for you. There’s nothing more satisfying than coming back from an unexpected sick day or from a field trip and thinking YIKES WHAT ARE WE DOING only to find a pretty simple but detailed-enough overview of what you had in mind for the day.
As I said before, a former administrator requested that we add assessment onto our lesson plans. He said whether it was an exit slip, a quiz, or a drawing: if you’re assessing knowledge, he wanted to know about it. I scoffed, as we all have a tendency to do when asked to ADD something. But man, I’m glad he did ask us to add it.
ASSESSMENT IS GOOD. And it can be so, so simple. I use 3-2-1 and 20-Words-Only as common “Exit Slips.” Sometimes my assessment WAS the lesson. Tracking and documenting what kinds of assessment I use and how I use it has been illuminating. If you don’t have that on your LPs, I really suggest adding it!
I’ll be honest, there is another element that I add to my lesson plans…
COLOR. All of my lesson plans are in ROYGBV order because I’m just cool like that.
What do you add into your lesson plans? And how do you make lesson planning thorough but not overkill?
Check out my TPT!