Thursday, March 28, 2013
The Evolution of Lesson Plans: Throwback Thursday
I write out my lesson plans, always have. It started in a journal and quickly moved to a computer--my handwriting can be a mess. I've taught at three schools and worked under five principals. Very few have asked teachers to submit lesson plans. Ones that have asked, use them for committee notebooks, but don't seem to read them.
The Lesson Plan Book I discovered on the book shelves served as a student tool. I made it for students to check after an absence. I kept it because it was the first time I'd documented an entire year and organized it one place. How I plan has changed significantly since 1998. In 1998 I planned a quarter at a time usually the entire first semester was finished prior to the start of school. Once school started and I learned a bit about students, I got specific writing out plans week by week, day by day. Here's a monthly map:
Classics before Christmas, that's what I should have called this unit. I remember a near revolt over De Crevecoeur's "Letters to an American Farmer." In 1998, works in the public domain were just beginning to show up online. I could connect, dial up mind you, via the Florida Information Resource Network (FIRN, established in 1995). I believed in "whole works." I eschewed excerpts from the textbook. Have you ever asked a student to read De Crevecoeur's letters in their entirety? I printed it out. By Christmas Juniors were finished with me. Definitely revolt material. Have you seen De Crevecoeur's letters?
Once I had the months in mind, I planned week by week for each prep. In 1998 I create plans in a table using Claris Works on an Apple 2e.
Structures, instructional routines are clearer. Writing prompts at the start of class worked as review, choice was limited in 1998.
By the year 2000, I'd learned basic web editing with a WYSIWYG editor, so my plans went digital.You can peruse them here.
Tables on a webpage? So passé, a definite throwback. In terms of instruction, reading workshop is solidly established. Then, as now, it was a regular part of our class time. We wrote daily but for extended time on Wednesdays; students' choices were limited. Writing workshop, like push-ups, take practice and work over time; now writing workshop time is structured around mini-lessons and mentor texts.
In 2000, I taught on a block schedule. My school ran a four by four block, but we decided as a faculty to give ninth graders one class all year. Ninth graders did not switch at the semester in this one class as happens to all classes on a four by four schedule. Luckily that one class was English. I did my best teaching when I had students every day for 90 minutes for a full 180 days.
Now I keep my lessons plans in Google spreadsheet. I post a link to the plans on my class webpage, so that students can access them at any time (English I page and AP Language).
Eventually the class website will change. I'm between programs right now and not updating it as frequently as I used to, but that's another post. The format has changed. Now plans are written in the "common board configuration" language teachers are expected to used. I still print the lesson plans out weekly, but I keep them on a clipboard, instead of a notebook, in class. I plan a week at a time (though I have a big picture of a unit in my mind) even then the plans change depending on what happens in class. One thing is certain, as I learn my instruction and how I plan for it shifts.