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Lesson Planning: Back to Basics

Posted on 07/31/2019

Ideas come and go in education. We probably will hear about some new ideas at upcoming back-to-school events. Although we don't always adopt new ideas or try out new techniques, it is important to have a sense of new concepts and instructional practices, so our teaching doesn't get stuck in an old framework that no longer applies to our current reality and doesn't help our students.

The most important part of our job where we can apply new thinking is in lesson planning, the bread-and-butter of our work. As a best practice, we should always be asking ourselves, how can I improve my lessons on a daily, weekly, semester, and yearly basis. New ideas can refresh our practice and invigorate our classroom. New thinking backed by academic research and the experience of other educators applying it in their practice can benefit our students. If we haven't thought about our lesson planning recently, now is a good time, before we get too knee-deep in the school year.

Former classroom teacher Matt Miller, author of the popular Ditch That Textbook External link opens in new window or tab blog, has published a series of posts focused on lesson planning that are a good starting point to learn about some new tricks and thinking that you might consider. These have more to do with organizing lesson plans rather than writing them and gathering information about our practice to make us better teachers. Matt has organized his posts into three different topics:

  • 1 Protocol to Organize Lesson Plans – Matt suggests adopting an approach based on the "bullet journal" to develop a personalized set of icons to organize all of the pieces of designing lesson plans and then executing them in class. A bullet journal can help you see the different activities you do and teaching strategies you use in class and how often you do and use them, what worked and didn't work, individual tasks to follow up on, and more. Although many people have a hardbound journal or lesson planner, you could also create or adapt a digital journal for lesson planning.

  • 4 Frameworks to Manage Content – We probably learned about a framework or two in our teacher preparation programs that gave us a way to understand how students learn, what they should learn, and how we should teach them content. Matt suggests taking a look at some newer frameworks with which we may not be familiar: Webb's Depth of Knowledge; the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy; Universal Design for Learning, or UDL; and the ISTE Standards (for Students but for others as well). He provides a brief introduction to each framework and links to additional resources for more information.

  • 3 Lesson Plan Templates – Matt points out that the lesson planner many teachers use to organize their instruction is rarely adequate for all of the things that we want to track in class and with our students. Three templates he suggests that can be added to the planner include a yearly planning template, a semester planning template, and a monthly habit tracker. The goals are to see the big picture of planning over long stretches of time and to collect data on lessons that can inform changes to make to better our instruction.

Take some time to look at the suggestions that Matt makes for organizing your lesson planning to make your instruction even more effective and help your students learn and thrive in your classroom.

Article: 1 Quick Protocol to Get Your Lesson Plans Organized External link opens in new window or tab from Ditch That Textbook

Article: 4 Frameworks to Level Up Your Lesson Planning External link opens in new window or tab from Ditch That Textbook

Article: 3 Powerful Lesson Plan Templates – And How to Make Your Own External link opens in new window or tab from Ditch That Textbook

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