Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Week-At-A-Glance Planner: A Graphic Organizer for Lesson Planning

{Click to access and download: Weekly Lesson Planners}

 When planning my lessons I always start with the “big picture” and then work backwards to fill in the nitty gritty details. During the summer I create a Curriculum Planning Map for the entire year. I use that to determine when major concepts will be taught and when I will focus on specific themes or topic in my classroom. You can view my blog post, Curriculum Mapping for the Year, for tips on long-range planning

Next, I plan out thematic units. Doing so enables me to get an idea of which skills I can integrate and how much time will need to be allowed for each topic. Both are a "blueprint" for the year. I try to complete them before the new school year begins, but tweak it as needed based on the interests and abilities of my specific group of students that year. I keep the Curriculum Planner in my teacher binder so I can access it regularly when drafting my lesson plans.

When it comes down to the day to day planning, I again start with the bigger picture. I find that using a Week at a Glance template is an extremely helpful step. I use it when meeting with the other 3rd grade teacher for common planning time. The format enables me to plug in general descriptions of specific lessons to see how the week will flow. It's helpful to add in assemblies, days off, or other special events and be able to see how much time we really have to work with.  It provides a visual organizer for writing a more detailed daily plan.

  • Begin by customizing the template to meet your needs. List out the subject areas you will need to plan for. You may also find helpful to include a row for things like homework, read aloud books, daily journal prompts, etc. 

  • If your allotted times per subject vary daily, it will be beneficial to also add the length of the academic block onto the organizer. This is helpful in determining which lessons to teach on which days.

  • Print or copy a year-long set of the organizers so they are always at the ready. Alternatively, you could just keep the file on your computer and type in the information each week. This would enable you to either print out your completed template or simply access it on the computer when drafting your daily plans. Either way is fine. It comes down to personal preference.
  • Another environmentally-friendly option would be to print one copy and slide it into a sheet protector. You could then use dry-erase markers to "write and wipe" weekly.

  • Begin by plugging in anything that will alter your typical schedule: holidays, inservice days, etc. You can usually do this right away for the entire year as those types of events should be set in stone.

  • I don't recommend getting too far ahead filling in the template for each week with variable events. Snow days, your unplanned absences, the rate students are acquiring skills, etc will alter your plans. About a week in advance is ideal.

  • If you have students who are pulled from your classroom for services during an academic block, you may want to develop a system for making note of this on your organizer. I number my students and simply write their number in the top corner of the boxes of the times they'll be out of the room. This is important because you may want to schedule certain lessons when they will be present.

  • On a related note, it is helpful to make note of the times you'll have additional academic support in the classroom. You can develop a simple code or just write the adult's initials in the box.  This will let you know when you can plan activities that require extra hands.

  • Use your district's pacing guide (if you have one), the scope and sequence from your teacher texts, your curriculum maps, etc to insert a brief (but easy to understand) description of what you'll be teaching. Example: If it is a lesson from a teacher text you may just write: Investigation 2.1 (pages 165-168) Finding Equivalent Fractions. 

  • If you are adding in lessons or activities that you have created be sure to write a brief description that you'll later understand when looking at the organizer.
  • Consider sharing a copy of the completed organizer with colleagues who work with your students so they are aware of what you'll be doing in the classroom.

I have created an editable Week-At-A-Glance Lesson Planning Packet that may be helpful.

The packet comes in four different options and all are included. There is a colored version (featuring aqua chevron) and an ink-saving black and white version (which looks fantastic when printed onto colored paper). Each of those versions comes bundled as a PDF which preserves the look of the product and can be written on by hand. The packet also comes with  an editable Powerpoint version.

To use the editable version of this product you’ll need Powerpoint 2007 or higher. Further instructions are included in the packet.

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