Tips for Planning the Upcoming School Year

Long term planning

In 10 years, I’ve learned that long-term planning is the #1 way to manage the crazy stress and overwhelming to do list faced by teachers. I’m sharing my process for planning below.  If you are reading this as a new teacher, I cannot stress enough the need to come up with some system for organizing your long-term goals and curriculum.  If you are a fellow veteran, I’d love to hear your process.  Either way, join the discussion in the comment section below!

Start with Goals and the Big Picture by Quarter, Trimester, or Semester: For each grading period include required literature, major projects, and other must do items. Tip: Add district and state assessments also!   Here’s an example:

  • Quarter 1:
    • Summer Reading
    • Short Story Unit (list specific stories here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 1-5
    • Grammar: Verbs- transitive, intransitive, linking, basic sentence patterns (lessons 1-5)
    • Writing: Intro to MLA and 5 paragraph essay + 1 process essay
  • Quarter 2:
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Vocabulary: lessons 6-10
    • Grammar: Parts of Speech
    • Writing: 2 process essays
    • Video Project
  • Quarter 3:
    • The Odyssey
    • Nonfiction Unit (list specific selections here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 11-15
    • Grammar: Phrases and Clauses
    • Writing: Research paper
  • Quarter 4:
    • Poetry Unit (list specific poems here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 16-20
    • Grammar: Sentence types
    • Writing: Infographic project

Move to a Broad Weekly View: This step is primarily meant to double check that you will have enough time to fit in everything from step one.  For example:

  • Quarter 1:
    • Week 1: Summer Reading (with vocab lesson 1 and grammar lesson 1)
    • Week 2: Intro to MLA and 5 paragraph essay: Writing Architect  (with vocab lesson 2 and grammar lesson 2)
    • Week 3: Elements of Short Story + “Short Story 1″  (with vocab lesson 3 and grammar lesson 3)
    • Week 4-5: Freytag’s Pyramid + “Short Story 2 and 3″  (with vocab lesson 4 and grammar lesson 4)
    • Week 6-7: Conflict and Characterization + “Short Story 4 and 5″  (with vocab lesson 5 and grammar lesson 5)
    • Week 8-9: “Final Short Story” + Essay (incorporate vocab and grammar from the quarter)

Pencil in a Monthly Calendar: You can buy one or print it out/save it from this website.  I love technology, but for some reason, it makes it feel some much less overwhelming to literally use a pencil on the printed calendar. You can just as easily type into the calendar template.

Work with Lesson Plans on a Weekly Basis: I have a couple of co-workers who stick to the long-term plan exactly as written, but I usually need to reassess weekly based on formative assessment and flukes in school schedules.  When I have done the long-term planning outlined above, my weekly lesson plans only take a fraction of the time.  I also feel like I’m going to meet my benchmarks without forgetting any of the many strands of my class!

Are you drowning in weekly lesson plans?  You are not alone!  Do you have ideas for managing long-term and short term plans? We’d love to hear from everyone in the comment section below!

Back to School Sale on TPT!

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It’s that time of year – and we’ve got some great deals for you!  Check out the Super Secondary Yearbook to get a glimpse of the amazing Secondary teacher-sellers on TPT!  Save up to 28% August 4th and 5th with promo code BTS14.

We’ve got our entire store 28% off…so NOW is the time to grab all those wishlisted items you’ve been wanting! Visit Secondary Solutions TPT Store now!

Also, don’t forget to check out the Secondary TPT class of 2014-2015 and their great deals August 4th and 5th, 2014!

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21st Century Math Projects

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Preach it Weird Al! Why English teachers love “Word Crimes”!

If you are an English teacher and participate in any social media, I’m sure that you have seen Weird Al’s new viral video, “Word Crimes”.  If you haven’t seen it, you really must watch it.  Let’s be honest, even those of us who have seen it several times will probably click to watch it again!  So what is it about this video that resonates so deeply with English teachers and everyone else for that matter? I’ll break down my love of this song below:

  • We are not alone! Too many times, students think that English teachers are the only ones who actually care about proper grammar. Weird Al has made it cool for celebrities, family members, bloggers, and everyone else in society to jump on the grammar bandwagon by sharing this video.  I hope this fun little parody sends a serious message to young people to listen up in our classes!
  • Online writing counts! Weird Al points to blogs, social media, hashtags, and other online writing with the message that spelling and syntax matter even on the internet.
  • He fits in all my pet peeves! I love the whole song, but these four drive me up the wall:
    • I could care less.  When I hear students say this, I always want to retort, “well, you certainly could care more about your correct use of idiom” or something else snarky.
    • Quotation Marks for “emphasis”.  When I see this happening in my classes, I love to bring up this website for a couple minutes: unnecessaryquotes.com.  It gets a few laughs and brings the point home.  (Tip: Always preview the page before bringing it up in class.  Some examples are not safe for all schools.)
    • Literally.  This one is everywhere in my school: I literally have a ton of homework, my head literally exploded, I literally can’t even.  Sometimes I have to forcibly control my eye rolls.
    • Your and You’re, There, Their, and They’re, Its and It’s.  This shouldn’t be a problem in high school, but it is.  I’m thinking about making big posters for the front of my room this year, so I will let you know how that goes.
  • He uses Proper Terminology. The English class lingo is often discounted as boring and irrelevant, but he breathes new life into terms like contraction, preposition, dangling participles, and oxford comma.  I never thought I would say this, but thank you Weird Al!

 

Did you love this video as much as I did?  What are your word crime pet peeves?

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