Sunday, August 9, 2015

Planning for a Successful Year

Hello, everyone! If you're not back in school yet, you will be soon. I believe that PLANNING is the #1 thing you need to do in order to have a smooth year. Planning needs to be done in three ways - daily, monthly, and yearly. In this post, I'm going to explain how my team plans for a successful year.

Daily Planning

It's so important to have a daily plan. You can't teach without one!
  1. First, you need to have a planner that works for you. My school uses www.planbook.com and we love it! It's only $12 a year (my school pays for it). We love it because all of the standards are there - you simply choose your state,  your standards, and the subject from a drop-down menu. It's easy and it reassures you that you are teaching the standards. Another reason we love it is because administration can see what you are doing. They can easily log on and see what you are teaching without them having to come talk to you about it. This cuts down on conference times with them, because they already know what you are teaching. This isn't a post for Planbook, I promise, but I also like it because you can move your lessons around. I live in North Carolina, and we have a lot of snow. So if I miss a day, I simply log on to my Planbook account and bump the lesson to the next school day. Now, as much as I enjoy Planbook, I also use a paper planner. I find that it's easiest for me to have it right in front of me. So after I created my detailed plans in Planbook, I copy shorter, more simplified ones, into my Erin Condren Planner. The teacher planner has seven sections for you to plan. Here is a picture of the labels I made. I bought these at Staples. Click here to see them at Staples. They fit perfectly in my Erin Condren planner! I plan to go back and put the time on them, too, after we finalize our schedule. Here is a link to the labels if you want to use them. (The font is used is KG Miss Kindergarten. You can download it for free, for personal use only, here.) 
     
  2. Once you have your planner, you need to have a planning guide. There are lots of free ones online, depending on the subject, standards, and grade you teach. Our county met and created one, and we meet to update it often. When you have a planning guide that you are happy with, store it in your planner or somewhere where you can refer it often. As you plan daily, you'll want to keep in mind where you want to be at the end of the week, month, and year. Yes, this does make planning daily an easier task!
  3. Next, you need to make sure you are planing with your teammates. My team meets weekly to discuss our plans and make sure we are teaching at the same pace. Collaboration is key!!! You do not have to be cookie-cutter teachers, and your lessons may vary, but has proven extremely helpful for my team to plan together!
  4. It's important to keep in mind that your daily plans will change. You know that sometimes our students move faster or slower than we anticipated, and that's ok! Teachers have to be flexible. However, a daily plan is a must!

Monthly & Yearly Planning

  1. I mentioned above that you need to have some type of pacing/curriculum guide. Get it out and plan your month! Some teachers have units or themes, which are easy to fit into months. In fourth grade, we don't usually have themes, but we do have units (informational text structure, fractions, etc.). Use these themes or units to plan out your month. Don't do units or themes? That's ok, too! You can still have a goal in mind. Decide how you want to start your month and decide what you want your students to have mastered by the end of the month. Again - this is a plan, not set in stone. 
  2. Create a "Year at a Glance" calendar! This has changed the way my team works! We had a curriculum map that we had created, and honestly, it was just a bit overwhelming! Sure, it's a necessity to plan out all of your standard for the entire  year. However, it is a lot to take in. So we decided to plan it on a calendar!
    1. First, we printed out free online calendars for August - May.
    2. Next, we took our holiday or date-specific skills/topics and placed them.
    3. Then, we took our reading units/books/skills and placed them where they made sense.
    4. After that, we took our social studies and science units and placed them where they fit. For example, we go to Raleigh (our state capitol) in November, so we placed our government unit and government literature in late October and early November.
    5. Finally, we placed our math units in the order they made the most sense to us. For example, we always teach place value first because everything builds on that. 
    6. Below is a picture of our "Year at a Glance" from last school year. Again, this year is not finished because we still have a lot of planning to do. However, maybe it can help you as you plan. I always need a guide to look at before I start planning - I am such a visual learner! Just click the picture to download! This was created by Kim Miller from For a Love of Teaching. Thanks for allowing me to share this, Kim! Check our her blog today!!
I hope you I have helped to make your planning somewhat easier this year. I hope you have a fantastic 2015-2016 school year!

Monica



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