I can vividly remember sitting at my desk on Wednesday afternoon, the only day I had time for lesson planning, and feeling so overwhelmed that I did nothing. My problem was I didn’t have a system. Every week I felt like I was starting from scratch. Of course, it didn’t help that our school district didn’t use any curriculum, and I was a new teacher.
Ever since leaving the classroom, I have been dedicated to taking the load off of teachers. Creating, planning, and implementing meaningful lessons every day of the week is too much work for one person.
Using Brain Science During Lesson Planning
I have been writing about how teachers can use brain science research to plan effective lessons for a while, but today I realized I was still leaving a lot of work for teachers.
Over the past few days, I have been brainstorming how I would create a lesson plan based on brain science. I realized that there were actually three types of lesson plans I would need. First, I would need a lesson introducing new material. This is a typical lesson plan with an attention grabber, mini-lesson, work time, and review. I also included a couple of extra steps to maximize student processing time.
Second, I would need a lesson plan for practicing skills. Students don’t always need new instruction. Sometimes they just need time to practice what they have learned. This lesson plan reminded me of a Daily 5 schedule because while students practice independently, teachers can pull small groups for remediation. Third, I would need a rapid review lesson plan. If you have been reading my blog posts, you know that building strong neural networks is an important part of repeated practice. I have to give my students lots of opportunities to remember anything I want them to remember.
A Lesson Planning Template
One thing I added to my first lesson plan template was a sorting system for students. Based on the results of the exit ticket, I would place students into one of three categories: needs more instruction, needs more practice, needs more challenges. Sorting the students helps me think about the next steps during our practice sessions. For example, if after teaching two-digit addition, I have 5 students who need more instruction, 10 students who need more practice, and 6 students who need more challenges, I can create a mini-lesson, a practice page, and a challenge sheet for our next practice session.
Using Practice Sessions in the Classroom
Next, I wanted a way to keep track of what students were working on during practice sessions. Choice is an important part of motivating students to learn and practice, so I wanted to give them choices within our practice sessions. This meant I needed a way to track what skills students need to practice and what skills they had mastered.
I created a recording sheet for practice sessions and a recording sheet for student progress. I also created standards progression sheets for reading, writing, and math. These tools would help me keep track of what each student needed to work on to keep them on track to meet all of the standards for the year.
I realize that this system may need some tweaking to meet individual teacher needs, so I created everything in Google Docs so that it is 100% editable.
Want to See an Example?
Next, I thought it would be helpful to see an example, so I created a lesson plan based on my FREE science unit on sources of electrical energy.
As you can see, I made some changes to the original template to fit the lesson. I also linked all of the files students would need so that I have them ready when I need them.
My goal in creating all of this is to make your life easier. If you think this system will work for you, you can get everything when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. Every week I send you updates on the resources I have created so that you can grab them while they are on sale, and I include helpful tips you can use in your classroom right away. You can always unsubscribe if you get tired of all of the deals and information.
For those of you wondering about it, I have also included the Sources of Electrical Energy Lesson Plan along with all of the linked materials in the freebie. Just sign up on the form at the bottom of this page.
ARE YOU TEACHING ANOTHER SCIENCE TOPIC?
I am working on creating more science units so that every science teacher can get exactly what he or she needs for her students. You can also read about how I use brain science to teach other science topics on my blog. Click the pictures below to learn more.