Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Planning for an entire school year

The number one thing that completely revolutionized my teaching is planning my lessons for the whole school year ahead of time. I started doing this two years ago and it completely changed my life.

Here is my process step by step:

Week at a glance template

1. I create a template for my week at a glance
2. First, I decide what is important for me to include 
3. This year I included:

  • Daily Agenda
  • Reminders and Notifications for the week 
  • Journal Questions
  • Random Facts of the Day
  • Bell Ringer PowerPoint Slide #s
  • Core Standards Covered 

4. Next, I wait for the official school calendar to come out
5. I input all of the dates and important items (Progress reports, holiday dates, parent/teacher conferences, etc...) from the school calendar into the weekly templates for the entire year
6. Now I am ready for the fun to begin (I am using the term "fun loosely obviously!)

Random Facts & Journal Q's & Homework
1. I like to start by inputting all my small items into the template first. 
2. I usually start with the journal Q's 
  • Journal Questions are basically just writing prompts
  • I have one a day written on my chalkboard and students have 5 minutes at the start of the day to respond the the Q's
  • At the start of the year I require 3 sentences from them and I stretch it as the year goes on into a full paragraph
3. Then I like to move on to the random facts of the day
  • Random facts of the day are just what they sound like! Fun yet true facts that the students really get a kick out of
  • I like to make these extra credit on quizzes or assignments if they can remember one or two
4. Lastly I move on to homework 
5. I have created a one page Short Story Form that can be used for any fiction story
6. Using my district's textbook I choose one story per week that the students are required to read and fill out the form for (I send a textbook home with each student) 
7. I add the homework story and the due date (the last school day of each week) to my template

Planning for the year
1. Using a curriculum framework and the common core standards I make a list of all the topics students are required to learn. 
2. Starting at day one I start adding items to the agenda checking off a topic each time it is covered 
3. I also plan in time to review before benchmark tests and plenty of review time before each state standardized test
4. I like to teach topics in isolation (Similes, Conflict, Symbolism, Point of view, Etc...) at the start of the year. I like to do this because after the students know what all the terms mean, I am able to review them using a variety of short stories/novels I know they will like (instead of bland and boring reading passages!)

Bell Ringers & Common Core Standards 
1.  I have made a Powerpoint presentation of 545 Bell Ringer Slides that I use each day (Along with the Journal Q's at the start of each class)
2. I see what I put on the template for the agenda each day and choose a PowerPoint slide that corresponds with the topic for each day
3. I again look at what is on the agenda for the day and highlight the corresponding Common Core Standards that are covered for that day

Feeling a sense of accomplishment
It generally takes me about 3 days to complete my week at a glance templates for the entire school year, but when I am done I feel an overwhelming sense of relief because I know that the hardest part is over!

At this point in my career, I have been teaching long enough and bulked up my curriculum enough that I already have enough activities to teach the entire year, but even if you do not have materials for the entire year you can still plan ahead because you know what the kids HAVE to learn.  

You can put down the topics that need to be covered in a logical order and then you can always gather/create (or buy from me :-D) the materials at a later date!

You can also determine important dates, journal Q's, and random facts!

Feel free to take a look at my "Week at a glance" plans for the 2012-2013 school year below!

All of the items listed in my lesson plans above are available in my Teacherspayteachers and TeachersNotebook Stores including my Entire English Curriclum.

Feel free to check it out by clicking the picture below! 

The free preview for this curriculum is my weekly overview template if you would like to download it!

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