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Writing Lesson PlansWhen thoughtful, informed, and experienced teachers undertake to teach a new curriculum or new topic, or undertake to teach a new set of students, they tend to plan more carefully - and more in writing - than they will do when the curriculum, materials, and students have become familiar.
Questions to promote planning and learningThe questions here are designed to help you to use what you have learned to far to engage in that same sort of careful thinking and writing, as you plan units and design the lessons to carry it out. There are guiding prompts to help you think and write about:
- the big ideas of the unit and your learning goals for all students
- your students--what they are like and what they need
- the specific lessons needed to carry a unit to a successful conclusion
- about the logistical details of the unit--materials, equipment, movement
- assessment--how you will find out what students already think and what they learned
- what you learned during the course of your teaching
- what you learned after having taught and evaluated it
Questions to help me think/write about the big ideas of the unit and my learning goals for all students:
- What do I want my students to learn, think about, be able to do as a result of this unit (learning goals - including concepts, processes, attitudes, social and personal responsibility)?
- Why do I think these are important - why am I teaching this unit?
- What do I know about this content and what more do I need to learn and work on in order to teach it?
- How will this unit help me address my district's curriculum guidelines, state frameworks, and national standards?
- In what ways does this unit connect to other subject matters?
- What resources are available to support my teaching and students' learning? How good are they?
- What sequence of activities will help students learn these ideas?
- What do I want to learn from teaching this unit?
Questions to help me think/write about my students
- What do my students already know and how can I build on this knowledge?
- How does this unit connect with, build upon students' interests?
- What kinds of accommodations will I need to make for specific students in my classroom?
Questions to help me think/write about specific lessons
- What do I want students to be working on, thinking about, and learning in this lesson (lesson objective)?
- How does this lesson build on previous lessons and prepare students for lessons to come?
- What might be easy or hard for students?
- What will happen in this lesson and in what order?
- What kinds of engaging activities will I prepare for this lesson?
- How much time will be devoted to different parts of the lesson/activity?
- How will I get students into the lesson?
- What will my students and I be doing during this lesson?
- What kinds of questions will I ask to get at students' understandings, at how they are making sense of the task?
Questions to help me think/write about the logistical details of the unit
- What materials, supplies, equipment will I need?
- How will I manage the time, both within lessons and across the unit?
Questions to help me think/write about assessment
- How will I know what my students are and are not learning in this unit?
- How will students know what they are learning?
- What kinds of ongoing assessment strategies will I use?
- How will I keep track of, and record students' progress?
- What kind of culminating activity will give students a chance to consolidate and demonstrate what they have learned and how will I evaluate it?
Questions to help me learn while teaching
- What are different students learning and what evidence do I have? What are different students struggling with and what evidence do I have?
- How can I adjust my teaching to help students in those areas where they need more work? What are some alternatives and what reasons do I have for choosing a particular course of action?
- How can I take into account differences among students and promote genuine learning for all?
Questions to help me learn from teaching a unit
- What did I learn about my students, about the content, about myself as a teacher?
- What went well? What were the surprises?
- What would I do differently and why? What do I need to learn more about?
Writing up the unit planThe written format of plans will vary depending on a number of factors including the purpose of a lesson, the nature of the activity you have planned, and the contexts in which you are teaching (some schools have specific formats that teachers are expected to use). While learning to develop unit and lesson plans, you might structure the writing in three parts.
- In Part One, you address mostly the questions in #1 and #2.
- In Part Two, you lay out a map of the actual lessons you will teach - addressing mostly the questions in #3, #4, and #5.
- Part Three you write during your teaching (#6) and after you have completed the unit (#7) - from reflective notes on your teaching and your students' learning that you keep while teaching the unit.