Monday, January 19, 2015

How I Plan A Unit

My biggest challenge with starting a new grade level at a new school was not having a plan!  I hate not being prepared well in advance.  Before I left my old school, I had already made all of my copies for the upcoming year so that all I had to do was show up and teach and do a little grading now and then.  I didn't want to waste valuable hours standing in front of a copier when I could be at home snuggling The Little Man.  So, when I accepted this new position I started asking a LOT of questions.  I'm sure I annoyed my teammates, but a girl has got to have a plan.

First, I made a calendar for the school year with all of our days off blacked out.  Then I started plugging in all of my information.  This is what I call a "living document".  I am constantly tweaking it here and there.  (Like when I found out we had guidance one day a week and gifted and talented one day a week, so I could only teach writing three days a week.  Then fast forward to the second semester when I found out guidance was only for the first semester and now I can teach writing four days a week.)  But seriously, it helps my brain.  It makes my brain happy to know what is coming up.  I created a row for each subject that I teach and only plug the subjects into the days that I teach them.  (Science and social studies don't happen on Mondays and Wednesdays because we have computer lab.)  I also included the standard number for math and reading because we only teach one objective a week.  (Oklahoma doesn't do Common Core.)

Here is a close up:

I then plan out my unit.  I count up how many days I am going to teach a unit and start numbering a sheet of paper.  I start at the bottom and work my way up.  I want to focus on my end result and then break it down into each step.  It looks something like this:

For the record, I only typed it for this blog post.  Normally, I grab a piece of paper out of my printer, fold it in half, and start scribbling.


  1. You have inspired me to go back to this basic planning. After teaching for many years I got good at global planning in my head and sketchy details on my lesson plans. I've changed grades and even though it's a grade I've taught and I can still do much "off the the cuff", I find I waste a lot of time during the day. Also I feel I'm always running off copies. Thanks for reminding me that lesson plans are as much time management as knowing what to teach.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Sometimes I feel like I am talking to myself when I write this blog, like no one actually reads it. I don't think anyone has ever said that I inspired them to do anything. I am sure it was just a choice of words on your part, but it means a lot and I appreciate it. Have a great week!