Are you preparing activities ahead of time, but still you have to do more planning every night and are not feeling fully prepared when it’s time to teach?
Angela Watson shared her ideas about clever and effective lesson planning and how to escape the daily lesson planning trap.
1. Organizing and saving ideas
I collect so many great ideas, but then I’m not sure how to make it all happen. I feel like the problem is that I just end up downloading random stuff and then when it’s time to plan the unit, I have too many options. I just see something online and think that’s a great activity and I buy it without thinking if I even need another resource for this particular theme. I want to use them all, but in the end I cannot and it’s too much to go through them all.
- Have a good organizational system (Pinterest, Google drive...)
Keep the ideas organized by topic or unit, and then all you have to is go through that folder before planning each unit and decide what to actually use
2. Resources and activity ideas
I have wayyyy too many options because there are so many free resources available these days. And generally, curriculum companies provide way more activities and resources than you can ever use. Going through all of that is be too time consuming and overwhelming.
- Get rid of the things that are lower quality (eg. learning goals are not aligned with your curriculum)
- If you’re afraid you might want to use the resources one day, put them in a folder and name it “not using” and then they’re out of your way
- Make it your goal to do fewer things, so you can do the things that remain even better
- Keep only the best resources so that you don’t have to waste time going through the things that aren’t that useful with your group of children
- Create a collection of open-ended and versatile activities that you can use flexibly with many lessons and themes
Read more about our high-quality → Kindiedays Lesson Plans
3. Planning the lessons in detail
I am stuck on this hamster wheel - I never know what we are doing the next day in the classroom. There is no choice but to spend every evening planning the next day’s activities, which is exhausting for me as the teacher and it also tends to lead to lessons that aren’t necessarily that cohesive in the long run.
- Break down what you’ll be doing each day
- Plan all five days in advance
- Plan the details of the lessons on a weekly basis
- The most of the planning work should be done before Monday morning so that you’re not trying to figure out in the evenings what you’re going to do with the children the next day
- Planning with a co-worker would be amazing, so do that if possible
- Organize regular planning meetings once a week
Check out our → Kindiedays Lesson Plan template
4. Worksheets and printables
I felt like there were so many printables and worksheets that I wanted to use, but it was overwhelming. I wasn’t really thinking about which ones I was actually going to use. I was just sort of printing them all out and deciding in the beginning of the lesson. So it was just like this stack of papers that maybe I would use and maybe I wouldn’t.
- Sort out the materials before hand and pick the one(s) you will use
- Do NOT leave yourself 5 different options and wait until the day of the lesson to decide what to use!
- Plan less. There’s no reason to print out stuff and afterwards decide what you’re going to use
- Look for gaps in the lessons: I need something for the kids to do here to practice X skill — which one of these resources will fill in that gap? And print just that one thing
- Don’t include an activity in your lesson plans because you downloaded it for free and it’s just there - You need to have a learning goal in mind for each activity and worksheet
- Focus on things that are the best and highest use of your class time
Check out our → Kindiedays Templates
5. Daily lesson plan
Despite having a plan for the week, I often end up forgetting to do something or even forgetting what I had planned to do!
- Write the core elements of the lesson down
- Keep the "core plan" aside and check it during the lesson if needed
- List 3-7 bullet points in the "core plan": preparations, warm up activity, instruction etc. (Pose this question to kids, use this book to instruct on this skill, have them do this activity, release them to do this other activity on their own, and so on.) Each element clearly stated with a bullet point.
Check out our → Kindiedays Lesson Plan template
Angela Watson is a teacher with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and has 11 years of classroom experience. Angela also runs Truth for Teachers podcast to 'speak life, encouragement, and truth into the minds and hearts of educators'.
Happy organizing, planning and teaching!
References: Watson, Angela. 2017. How to move out of the day-by-day lesson planning trap and think big picture.