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It’s almost over?

            Unfortunately, it is.  We will be moving on to another topic but today we will be going over the last 3 chapters of Debbie Miller’s book: Teaching with Intention.  These last three chapters are the backbone of the ‘how’ of your teaching.  How are you going to do it all? (Well, you probably won’t—let’s just say that now…but how will you come close?)  How will you create that inviting learning environment that you envision in your head?

            After reading Chapter 6: “Lesson Design: Creating Lessons Based on Principles and Practices You Believe In”, Ms. Miller describes how to create lessons.  I agree with *almost* the entire chapter. 

            First of all, let’s start with what I agree with.  This is a quote from Pearson and Gallagher (1983), “I believe the gradual release of responsibility instructional model, integrated into a workshop format, best guides children toward understanding and independence.”  I wholeheartedly believe in this format.  I also believe in the 5E Model, which goes right along with these principles.

            However, I do disagree on one point.  Ms. Miller suggests that a teacher should “…explain to students the focus of the lesson and why it’s important to make connections to previous learning”.  Yes, I do believe it’s important to pull in the ‘schema’ or elicit some prior knowledge, however, I think *sometimes* you explain the focus after they get ‘into’ the lesson a bit.  It’s almost like they get their feet wet and then you push them in the water…instead of pushing them into the water (telling them the focus/objective/skill and then have them at it) right away.  Now, this doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes, you just gotta tell them.  But sometimes you don’t.  A teacher really needs to use their best judgment.

            Lesson planning is probably my favorite part of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of teaching.  I LOVE planning lessons.  In fact, that is why I just opened up a Teachers Pay Teachers Store (but more on that later).  For today’s ‘party favor’ or FREEBIE, I am going to attach a lesson plan template.  I’ve used this for a couple of years and I love it.  Let me tell you newbies—your lesson plan template will change with time.  It might not change every year (“if it ain’t broke-don’t fix it”) but it will change. My lesson plans have always included the state’s objective/skill, materials, procedure, AND higher level questions AND differentiation.  I will only list a small number of the last two listed because it’s impossible to list every (for example) higher level question.  I usually list 3 questions and 2 differentiations to get me going and then the kids take it from there.  I am not a teacher that can just ‘wing it’.  I have to think about my questions and how I can differentiate.  Some teachers just know…but not me.  Of course, I always have the end in mind.  I usually create the test, based off of standards/curriculum FIRST and then develop the activities so the students are ready for the test.  It use to be the opposite for me but then my district really started pushing ‘backward design’ and now, I LOVE IT!  Please don’t be mistaken, I do not teach to the test.  In ‘backward design’ you think about what it is they need to learn first, develop the test off of those, and THEN plan the activities.  When I first started teaching, I taught a unit on baseball.  Now, it would have been fine if I had thought about the objectives first and then incorporated baseball into the skills as a theme.  However, I just taught random stuff on baseball….what the heck? 

            In the last chapter: “Assessment, Reflections, and Next Steps,” Ms. Miller emphasizes the importance of ongoing, formative assessment to determine the student’s next learning goals.  I completely agree.  In the future, I plan to write a post on the many different ways to assess.  Hopefully I can get some great ideas from y’all about how you quickly assess. 

            In a nutshell, Teaching with Intention helps teachers look at their classroom and figure out how to best meet the needs of each student.  It is such a motivational book, one that I visit every year.  As promised, here is the last FREEBIE for this book study (a lesson plan template—by the way–this is a quick ‘overview’ of the day-sometimes I need to get more detailed on a separate page).  If you have any questions, please send me an email.  I look forward to hearing from you. 

April  Have a great week!