At professional development Monday, I ended the day with this quote:
“First of all, a planned lesson is just better. Not all planned lessons are fabulous and not all unplanned lessons are a disaster, but even a bad lesson will be less bad planned, and even a great lesson can be greater with a plan. If you are good at teaching unplanned lessons, you will be even better at teaching with a plan.” The Importance of Lesson Planning
There are multiple reasons to embrace lesson planning. At the end of the day, there is a different reason for each person. For some, it frees time because it improves organization. For others, it reduces stress as they know exactly what is happening and that it’s deliberately sequenced. Lesson planning ensures teacher focus on those things that matter most. Our school has selected the following non-negotiable elements for our lesson plan template:
Connecting our day-to-day work with our professional development in Authentic Intellectual Work is key. By connecting each day’s learning to one of these elements directly ties to our district’s instructional framework as the learning is “linked to Enduring Understandings, not linked to tasks or activities.” When we deliberately plan, we make those connections.
This is a continuation on the great work completed this year. It should never be a surprise on what is being learned. This is the mini-goal for you and your students to ensure learning for the day. This is directly linked to the district’s instructional framework.
This is a continuation on the great work completed this year. With nearly 22% of our students having English as a Second Language and 70% of our students on free or reduced lunches, targeting and addressing literacy is key. We need to be purposeful in how we have students engage in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This is directly linked to the district’s instructional framework.
This is the next step in Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol. This section is optional for the plan but encouraged. The reason it is important as it supports language acquisition along with the language target.
Four years ago, we moved to the A/B Block Schedule. We were very deliberate in how we used that time the first few years. As time has gone on we have snuck back into old habits. Having an agenda on the plan will ensure your lesson is pacing as expected and that the 88-minute block includes multiple learning opportunities.
As stated, connecting our day-to-day work with our professional development in Authentic Intellectual Work is key. The task summary should list what the students are doing with the content or skills. It should be something that could be brought to AIW to score. It could be anything from a graphic organizer, instructions for a discussion with prompts, a creation assignment, an essay prompt, a scene, a project, etc. This would be the one thing that ties in your content target.
We must plan how we will know if students know, understand, or can do the target/goal. The formative assessment should tell teachers if students meet the target. It is great if they do so through the language target. When writing the formative assessment, it is best to keep the targets in mind.
Literacy is key. One of the best ways for learning to be visible is through writing. This section can have an explanation of how they will use writing or the prompts themselves.
Taking time to reflect and ponder on how to enhance lessons is key. Teachers are the number one factor of student achievement. The work of Hall and Simeral shows that ongoing reflection is key to becoming and being a great teacher. When teachers engage in reflection, the understanding of needs deepens and the responses to those needs improve.
We understand that a common template and submitting weekly lesson plans is a shift – a change from the past. We know that this will take the many great things happening to the next level. Our parents and students deserve the best.
This semester has brought a word back to my mind on occasion. That word is "persistence." When I think of the teachers I admire most, that is the word that rings through.
As defined on webster.com, persistence is a "to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning." I think back to my teachers. The ones that I admire today. They were persistent.
With the end of the year quickly approaching, it rings true. I recently listened to a podcast "What To Do On Lame Duck School Days." The podcast and accompanying article features low and high value items to do during "downtime". The ideas feature go beyond the "show a movie" that we have all encountered. Although the list contains some low-value items that don't connect curriculum, there are many ideas on what can filled with educational value.
We have to be persistent in focusing on education until the last day. With summer brain drain on the horizon, we need to make sure that students are pushed until the final day of school. We can't afford to quit on May 1st or once prom is over. We must be persistent in focusing on continued learning. We must be persistent that students behave at high expectations. We must be persistent that students are engaged. To do so, we may have to get more creative this time of year.
Ryan Dumkrieger is the principal of Sioux City North High School.