[topic for the October 11 livechat]
- In college, I could spend a couple hours each weeknight to write one lesson plan. I had that kind of time, and I treated each lesson like any other academic assignment. In my first year of real life teaching, that quickly became impossible. Two hours every evening?!
- For college professors, the individual lessons HAD to be written in that classic grid format: "set induction", "goals", "objectives", "hook", "procedure", "closing".... Maybe that practice helped me internalize these elements, but really it feels like wasted and misguided effort.
- We were never really taught how to build a unit. I recently found on my hard drive the Final Project unit that I submitted back in 2000-something. I hate it!! Looks fine on paper, but if you found this thing on TpT you would totally swipe left.
I didn't really get good at planning until I had to. Until I flipped. Because you're not just assigning chapter 5 section 4 of the textbook, or just re-narrating your own lecture slideshow + personal anecdotes in class, or just providing a "teach-yourselves-kids!" inquiry project. If I am selecting or (more likely) producing a video lesson of essential information, then I absolutely must know where I'm going with this. Why students need to do X, why they need to know Y.
David Walsh framed it just right in last week's Slackchat: starting with the end in mind. Fortunately/Unfortunately for me, there's not much external pressure for curriculum topics. No standardized history test in my state, no district-based requirements or assessments, and a fairly laidback administration. I've had to spend more energy to define "the end", and that took a couple years. Now that's over, I can easily identify the building block events, terms, names, skills, etc. for which students need proficiency before independent projects, group experiences, and summative assessments. I flip for mastery, so the video lessons must meaningfully address those essential items for students to use and re-use as needed.
Last Thursday was our 3rd mastery assessment of the year. [video lesson link] Out of 83 students who took the 7-8 minute quiz, I got 70 fully satisfactory answers: 84% success rate! Only 2 were completely unprepared on quiz day; they are also in a special-education program, and both had avoided their previous academic support period. Of the remaining 13 students, 8 had a successful retake on Friday. They just needed to review the video and/or improve their notes for clearer understanding. The other 5, including the 2 cherubs mentioned above, have a little more work to do this weekend. I will follow-up on Tuesday.