Entry 24 – My Lesson Plan Workflow

This week’s prompt:

What is your lesson plan workflow?

I was the one who proposed this question to the teachers who reflect at my school as I’m pretty curious about how people work.  Here’s my general workflow based on the type of class.

MATH CLASSES

I design a lesson around one learning objective.  Most of my lesson planning is revising previous lessons from last year rather than starting from scratch.

1.  Develop the learning objective.  I’m trying to make these more about the concept rather than the ability (‘students will be able to use the distributive property’ versus ‘students will be able to recognize how expanding an expression results by using distribution/multiplication across each term in parenthesis’…or something more specific like that)

2.  Find / create a good question / task for them that will begin to lead them towards the objective.  I try to make these problems that may just be a little out of reach for them but not undoable.  I’ve used problems from the Exeter Mathematics 1 curriculum, the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics resources, and a ton of various things I’ve found through the years.

3.  To keep track of these resources, I use Evernote.  I have a ‘year at a glance’ note and whenever I come across a task or activity that could serve well in a unit I have later in the year, I’ll just paste in that unit on my ‘year at a glance’ document.

4.  Put together a slide show that will guide us through the opening task as well as follow up discussions / problems.

5.  Create ‘student versions’ of the slides.  Lately I’ve been printing these out for students and they have missing information or space to attempt the problems before we go through them.  Started doing this for units where the notes had to be very visual and the drawings students were creating in their notes were sloppy and unusable later.  To use less paper, I print two slides per page and go front & back.

6.  Find meaty discussion problems for students to work on after the official part of the lesson.  They work collaboratively on this in class and then I have students share their work with the group afterwards.  When good problems are chosen, it sparks great conversation between students on what to do and how to do it.

7.  Find appropriate Khan Academy for the learning objective.  I use this since it provides them with hints and extra videos if they’re stuck.  It’s also an easy homework grade.  5 in a row is a 100.  Students who get it only have to do 5.  Students struggling will need to get more practice to get the completion.

8.  Review any upcoming lessons.  Each unit not only has it’s own Evernote page full of my own notes, but it’s own page on our class website.  On Sunday mornings, I review over any upcoming lessons for that week on the website, see my notes in Evernote to see if I need to make any changes from last year (which I go back and read previous blogs to see if there was anything I needed to remember in regards to what worked and what didn’t) and then make those revisions.  I update our class calendar to let students know which lessons we will be working on when discussion problems and Khan Academy will be due.  This step is where I spend most of my actual time lesson planning since I’ve been teaching the current math classes for 3 years.

ROBOTICS

1.  This class is primarily focused on various projects and tasks students have build and program their robots to do.  My lesson planning happens whenever we are getting ready to start a new project.  I look back at the rubric, see some old blogs or vlogs where I reflect on how it went previously and tweak as needed.

2.  I introduce the projects by going through the rubric and students get started.  They work on it for the next two to three weeks and then we start the next project.  Class entails me going around and helping students troubleshoot.  I’ve thought of maybe making my own instructional videos for the students but I’d rather have them learn how to find resources they need on their own; an absolutely necessary skills for any programmer.

GENERAL TOOLS

  • Evernote – where I put web page clippings, pdfs, unit notes, and general reflections on lessons.  Each class is it’s own notebook and each unit is it’s own note in that notebook.
  • Planboard – this is more helpful earlier in the year as I’ve got a lot more going on in terms of getting kids used to our classroom culture.
  • NCTM Illuminations – fantastic resources for very inquiry-based lessons by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (this one is my favorite on the distributive property).
  • #mtbos – Twitter community (Math Twitter Blog-o-sphere) of forward thinking math teachers always sharing resources.
  • Exeter Mathematics 1 – Great questions for Pre-Algebra & Algebra 1 content.  Thought-provoking and in-depth problems.
  • formMule tool – a fast way to update Google Calendars using Google Sheets; huge time saver in trying to maintain an updated class calendar.
  • WordPress – my blogging platform for reflecting.
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