…my lesson plans are DONE while the sun is still shining! Say what?! Boy, do I feel accomplished! Before my head swells too big, it’s truly probably because this week is dedicated to our EOY benchmark testing, but HEY! They’re done, lol! So, maybe…..just maybe, I’ll go to bed tonight BEFORE midnight! Nah!
Speaking of lesson plans, I have no idea why it takes me so long to write them! I tend to follow predictable patterns when it comes to prepping for the school day. It may have something to do with my attention span. It’s short……..SQUIRREL! See?! Ok, where were we….hmmmm, oh! Lesson plans! What’s your process like? Each week, our team gets together to throw around ideas for the following week. On Friday, I am so ready to get to the couch because I am ex…..haust….ED, BUT the joyful, genuine collaboration that signals the end the week is something that I really look forward to. It’s also the beginning of my planning process.
My lesson plans start out with those shared ideas, then take shape based on goals set throughout the week made from observing student behaviors and skills we must cover from our adopted curriculum. When I sit down in front of the computer, I generally have my plans from the previous week before me, my instructional focus document, my TEKS (standards for non-TX folk) verification document, graded work, and our timeline for the current grading period. It seems like a lot, but it’s all contained in my teacher binder so it’s really not. Though lesson plans start out neatly organized and printed, they end up very written upon, scribbled on and sometimes scratched out and edited for re-teaching. The following Monday, when I set out the new set on my teacher table to refer to, the set from previous week is placed in a little basket that sits behind my table.
This week, plans are slim because our focus will be completing EOY testing. Isn’t the timing for testing just a little hilarious…the week before Easter….a shortened week….and you KNOW the kids’ minds are on eggs, eggs, and MORE eggs!
One of the greatest motivational tools that helps my lesson plans to flow is something our class has affectionately called “Smart Art”. There are so many expectations students are expected to meet throughout the school day. One of them is completing work station activities so that we can effectively conduct small groups to become better readers. Early in the school year, we experienced some struggles in completing quality work. They completed work, but the quality was lacking sooooo, we had to come up with a little encouragement to be our best selves. Enter Smart Art.
These little cuties were our Smart Art activity from last week. Each week, students have 1 required task (from word work and work on writing) that they must complete in order to participate. Just one…is a must do, not an “IF I get to it or IF I want to”….it’s a must. These two completed activities are students’ ticket to complete the fun art activity on Friday.
Our story this week was about the life cycle of a butterfly. This little project served a two fold purpose. Fun/Reward and a reminder that my students are changing and growing just as quickly as the little caterpillar. In just under 40 days, they will be ready to flutter away as 2nd graders. The thought of it makes me get a little teary eyed because we’ve accomplished so much together!
For each student I folded two 9x12 sheets of black construction paper in half and cut out the shape of a butterfly using an exacto knife. Each one unique. They’re a bit of a pain to prep, but the end result and the kids’ excitement about making them is worth the effort.
After labeling one side with their name and one with the 4 stages of the butterfly’s life cycle, students’ received glue to create the wings. I provided the glue for them. All they had to do was place the tissue paper in the pattern they wanted. As they completed the activity we discussed what we had learned about butterflies…their parts, how they use them, how they look, eat, can do, etc….
I thought my girls would be the most excited, but not this week! My boys were thrilled! They told me this was the best Smart Art activity we’ve done and they can’t wait to see what I come up with next week! I play to a pretty demanding crowd, lol! Love them to pieces!
After each student finished placing the tissue squares, the remaining black outline was glued on top. We placed them on the floor to dry. At the end of the day, the extra tissue pieces that hung off the sides were trimmed away, antennae were added and students drew additional white spots on the butterflies wings. I love surprises….fun surprises. My kids are used to coming in on Monday’s “looking up” to see what’s changed. When they return in the morning, they’ll see all of their butterflies fluttering around our classroom…
…and through our little garden!
Like watching them create these little butterflies, it’s been a total joy watching each one of my students grow and change this year. We’re completing EOY testing to measure the growth, but there is so much that has been accomplished, said and done that testing won’t measure. It won’t measure the relationships, the hugs, the willingness to take risks, getting messy and making mistakes in order to learn. It won’t measure the love I feel for this group of littles that will forever be one of “my kids”. It won’t measure how much I will truly miss them in a few short weeks…..they’re getting ready to flutter away and I’m content as we sit down to test because I know they’re ready!
How do you plan? What’s part of your process? What’s YOUR great motivator?