++Disclaimer++ This is not an official term that you will find in your teaching methods textbooks. This is one of my personal observations. I found there are two ways to plan lessons. While a teacher may find himself or herself using both methods throughout a school year, there is usually one method that is a preference.
Method #1 is what I call inductive planning. Miss Green is an example of a method 1 planner. If you teach next door to Miss Green, and peeked into her room after school when she is doing her planning you would think a tornado hit her classroom! You would see folders, tubs, files, library books, and various other materials scattered all over her reading table, floor, and any other available space to set things. Miss Green is planning the next two week’s unit. Before she can begin to think about what standards, skills, or objectives that she wants her students to learn, she must first see what resources she has.
Like many of us, she forgets from year to year what she has accumulated through the years. Through her years of experience, she has found she works best if she plans at least two weeks at a time and prefers a month at time because it is time consuming to get out all of the resources, review them, choose which ones to use, and then put them away. You will usually find her weekly or monthly plans organized in some type of tub system or drawer system.
The words “team planning” has been known to give her an anxiety attack. It’s not that she’s not willing to share, but only another inductive planner would understand the process of how a method 1 planner thinks. You see, when the Miss Greens of the world have all of their stuff scattered, they are in a creative zone. It is like a giant puzzle to them. How many of the five senses can I incorporate in this week’s plans? Student A has been having trouble with r-controlled vowels, student B needs more review with ___ (you name the skill), and so on and so forth.
The point is, the needs of Miss Green’s students are not going to be like the needs of the other teachers on her team. While administrators try to divide classes evenly, you and I both know, there is always some shuffling and it never truly turns out that way. There is always one class that has more ESL students, another one that has a large percentage working above level, and another one with ___ (you fill in the blank).
The best analogy I can give is to think of a man’s suit. A man can go to Kohl’s, find a suit that is his size, and he won’t be embarrassed to wear it because it will sufficiently cover him. Purchasing a suit off-the-rack is the method for most men. Or a man can go to another store pick out a suit in his size and have them tailor it to him. While both suits looks nice, men who have had tailor-made want to continue wearing tailor-made suits. It works the same way with teachers who have taught with lesson plans tailored to the needs of his or her class.
While you are still teaching the same skills, your group of students has different strengths and weaknesses. Using the same lesson plans year-after-year or the same plans as another teacher would be like having off-the-rack lesson plans.
Method 2 is the deductive planner. Miss Brown is a deductive planner. She is just as comfortable planning as a team, with a partner, or by herself during her prep period or after school. The Miss Browns of the world typically have a neat and tidy classroom. If they were asked in a job interview what you would see if someone peeked in their classroom Miss Brown would probably describe her class as the modern, minimalist look. You won’t see something hanging on every wall space in this class. Everything in this class has a purpose. Miss Brown has a clear purpose with her planning, too. She couldn’t imagine planning like Miss Green. When she walks into Miss Green’s room and sees stuff everywhere, it screams overstimulation to her. Luckily, Miss Green’s and Miss Brown’s administrator realizes that different students need different styles of teaching and environments. Their administrator places students with the teacher that suit them best. This makes students, teachers, and parents very happy.
Miss Brown prefers her planning to be orderly. She begins with the scope and sequence, one subject at a time, and then cross-references that with the textbooks. If there is a skill a student or group needs to work on, she will find resources she needs in her neatly organized files. Miss Brown plans during prep period or after school on a weekly basis. It is easier for her to plan in short increments because her resources are textbooks and files.
The Miss Greens of the world will often go shopping when they are looking for some inspiration. Sometimes they will find inspiration when they aren’t even looking for it! I was once at the Bass Pro Shop with my husband when I found this giant barrel of rubber worms. The moment I saw the huge barrel full of rubber worms my creative juices began flowing. It looked like something my boys would love and it turned out the girls loved them, too. I used them in a literacy centers. My students arranged the worms to spell words. They really loved it when I sprayed the worms with water and made them slimy!
This week I was shopping at Hobby Lobby and found a few things that inspired me.
Hobby Lobby has huge packages of foam squares in bright colors. You can cut the foam sheets with an Ellison Machine. I cut the shapes with scissors with decorative edges. Preschool and kindergarten teachers could use these as puzzles.
I thought this would be a fun way to choose partners. Put all the cut up shapes in a bucket and let the students pick a piece and then find a person with the missing piece. Cut the shape into more pieces if you want larger groups.
I found these foam shapes at Hobby Lobby. This is a quick and easy way to add a seasonal touch to your classroom management.
Do you teach older students who need more of a challenge? Using the same shape makes it more challenging to find a partner. Tell your class that they must find a partner without saying a word. Time them when they choose a partner using this method. Do they become more efficient? Are they finding ways to work cooperatively?
What do you do when you need some inspiration?