As a teacher, I spend a lot of time preparing lesson plans. Most don’t survive the first five minutes in front of my students but still I go through this preparatory exercise. Over the decades, I’ve come to realize that the product (a completed lesson plan) is less important than the process of organizing my thoughts, thinking about the needs of the students, searching for the right resources, and figuring out the best way to help students achieve goals. Scholastic has eight questions to help teachers plan their lessons:
- Students: What are the academic, social, physical, personal, and emotional needs of students?
- Strategies: Which teaching strategies will best facilitate student learning?
- Grouping: Should I group heterogeneously or homogeneously? What size should groups be?
- Timing: When is the best time to do this lesson? Are there prerequisites students should master?
- Materials: What materials do I need for the lesson to be successful?
- Success: Was the lesson successful? Were students interested? Did students learn? What didn’t work? What will I do differently next time?
- Sequence: What can I do next to build upon this lesson? How can I make it flow?
- Rationale: What is the reason for doing this? What objectives will be accomplished?
What lesson planning normally looks like
That’s a lot to prepare! Normally, I’d create a template or use one provided by my Principal that included these characteristics as well as school-specific ones like Standards Met, Time required, Steps Required, and Collaborations with Colleagues. I’d take a few hours (per lesson) to collect what I needed, visit with co-teachers, update the lesson plan from prior years, and then think how to make it relevant to the learning style of each child I will be teaching. Often — too often — I wouldn’t be able to find the resources I’d carefully stored last year or I would belatedly remember that the plan didn’t work well last year and needed a complete rework. More often than I want to admit, I would run out of time before getting to the part where I differentiate for each student’s needs (I can do that on the fly, can’t I?).
- Access a library of over thirty ORIGO 1 videos (and growing) through YouTube (search ORIGO Education) and on their Vimeo Channel www.vimeo.com/channels/ORIGO1
with strategies and models to build fluency and understanding. Topics include strategies for all four operations, using the number line, fractions, the counting principles, and more! Be sure to check these out and subscribe to the channels.
- Join a new learning community called Mathematics for Young Learners on edWeb.net – www.edweb.net/mathlearners to get access to live and recorded webinars on relevant math topics.
- Sign up for the next math webinar, like this one called The Number Line: More on Making the Most of Math Models.
- Builds conceptual understanding through language and discourse, powerful visual models, and engaging activities that foster student thinking.
- Drives the connections between and across concepts.
- Supports computational fluency with extendable strategies and meaningful practice.
- Incorporates rich problem solving, practical application, and open investigation.
Here are 4 Ways Teachers Can Better Prepare for the Next School Year, thanks to Kiddom, the online platform with a mission to make your lessons easier to plan, assess, and analyze:
Put Time Back in Your School Day
Time is precious. As this school year ends, learn how to save time and plan effectively for next year with these four strategies using Kiddom.
I have written in the past about mysimpleshow, an easy and clever way educators can create explainer videos. Mysimpleshow is aligned with simpleshow foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the world. This summer, in cooperation with the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC), they are participating in a summer volunteer program to encourage everyone to promote the United Nations 17 Global Goals in support of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development:
In collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College, the simpleshow foundation has set up a volunteering program that aims to educate the world about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Using [the online tool] mysimpleshow, volunteers are encouraged to explain details and background of these 17 Global Goals of the Agenda 2030 in short and entertaining explainer videos. The program allows volunteers of all ages to gain a better grasp of the Agenda’s topics and help create a public understanding of the importance of these goals.
Volunteers can sign up at simpleshow-foundation.org.
When you sign up, you choose a topic, access mysimpleshow, and create your explainer video.
Origo Education’s award-winning Stepping Stones 2.0 K-6 math program (with a separate program for pre-K) is versatile, easy-to-use, and nicely differentiated for varied learning and teaching strategies. It is available in English and Spanish with versions aligned with Common Core Standards or the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Its unique system of scaffolding lesson-to-lesson and circling back on important concepts not only reinforces learning but enhances student higher order thinking skills. Teaching materials include an abundance of resources, professional development, videos, and help. Lesson plans are delivered via a granular combination of rigorous critical thinking activities, real-world problems, and interactive digital games that make implementing the program easy and flexible for any type of classroom and fully supportive of a schoolwide goal of college and career readiness.
How to use Stepping Stones
As many of you know, I have a daughter in the Navy and a son in the Army. I love them both and live every day worried. But through it all, I appreciate what they are doing to make America what so many need it to be.
I love America. I love our military. I love my daughter and son.
You don’t have to watch all of these. I got carried away on YouTube. I just couldn’t pick a favorite…
And the ever-favorite (17 million views):
I’m a fan of Turnitin’s Revision Assistant and have reviewed it in the past. Most schools use it to help students write and revise their essays with automated feedback from the program. Revision Assistant’s feedback is specific and student-driven — given whenever a student calls for a signal check. Comments are written by actual teachers and the RA’s algorithms recognize patterns and guide students as they rewrite their essays.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District, a large district in Southern California, took a slightly different approach: They applied Revision Assistant’s signal check measures to train teachers how to grade essays more consistently across the district’s grading rubric. This clever application of RA made them a finalist in the IMS Global Learning Consortium Learning Impact Awards for creative applications of education technology.
Here’s what they did: A rubric is a matrix that specifically describes the characteristics an essay must have in order to earn a particular numeric score. Usually, it includes about four levels of proficiency and five or six categories. While it may be challenging for teachers to be consistent in grading, an algorithm is 100 percent consistent in scoring because algorithms do not vary from their programming. Newport-Mesa used this consistency to train teachers to better apply the district rubric to writing assignments.[gallery ids="55971,55970,55969"]
The district is still in the early stages of training and implementation but other districts may want to learn from their use of data-based instruction. They will present their proposal on May 16 at the Learning Impact Summit.
Revision Assistant, part of the Turnitin family, is a comprehensive virtual writing assistant for students that allows them to digitally edit and rewrite documents for any class. Last year, Sammy Spencer, a High School English teacher in Southern California, ran a pilot program using Revision Assistant in her school. Here’s her story:
Last Fall, my El Camino Real High School colleagues and I set out to change the way we teach writing. We wanted to redefine effective standards-based instruction and assessment. By the time we were finished with a pilot test, we discovered that a technology tool helped us and our students in some unexpected ways. It changed our day-to-day writing instruction practices, gave students more power over their own learning, and happily, made writing exercises more real and applicable for other departments like social studies.
In 2016-17, I was the new English department chair at ECRCHS, which is a large public charter school in Los Angeles. We are fortunate in that we have a lot of academic freedom, but since this is an accreditation year, we have to be sure we have data to prove we are meeting our learning objectives.
This year, I needed to help our English department implement shifts in writing methods directed by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). We also needed new pedagogical approaches that would yield data to measure progress. Our literacy coach and English teacher, Heidi Crocker, found a product from Turnitin – Revision Assistant – that used a powerful technology to assess writing and would turn the data it uncovered into feedback that students could apply to their essays immediately. We decided to give it a try.
We took a measured approach and piloted Revision Assistant in August 2016 with a small group of English and History teachers. At around the same time, our administration department asked us to align department objectives so that writing instruction reflected CCSS and the Smarter Balanced-style prompts. We needed benchmark assessments that would not only measure student achievement, but also able to drive instruction.