Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Lesson Plan Nightmare!

How many times have you finally gotten the chance to enjoy your weekend? You spent time with family or friends or even better both! You got a few workouts in. You slept a little. All was wonderful... until you realized you still had to do LESSON PLANS!

Lesson plans for teachers who teach multiple subjects can be a nightmare. I'm thinking even if you only teach one subject, they still might not be your favorite thing to do. It seems to me that they have gotten out of control. I know that for me, even after 18 years of teaching, I still need a plan. I still refer to my plans daily. However, the elaborate lengths I take to give the perfect highly effective lesson plan to somebody else who glances at it during a walk-through seems a bit extreme. I never subscribed to the if I die someone should be able to come in and teach off my plans theory. I mean if I die, they need to find a new teacher who will make the class his or her own. Plus, aren't there more pressing issues with a death like the funeral and what to wear to the funeral! Anyway, I make clear easy to follow plans for my sub. In fact, I have a whole week's worth of plans done each year for those just-in-case moments. I even offer those in my store. But back to the point... I really think we have gone overboard with our expectations. Here are the expectations at my school:

Each teacher must have lesson plans posted on current for each day of the week and posted by 8:30 am the first day of each academic week.  All teachers need to have their electronic plans in the classroom, available for viewing at all times (e-copy or hard copy).  As required by the K-12 Reading Plan, lesson plans are reviewed quarterly. Teachers are responsible for writing substitute plans. Team leaders should know where the emergency substitute plans are located.

Teacher lesson plans are meant to be highly useful for the teacher to personally use and follow. To align with ______School’s Vision, all electronic plans should include the following:

§  Daily Schedule (times for each subject/specials/lunch/recess)

§  Specific lesson standard(s) posted for each subject area daily using Curriculum Road Maps aligned with expected outcomes

§  Formative and Summative Assessments

§  90 minutes ELA Block for Reading
§  30 minutes ELA Block for Writing  

§  Evidence of i-Ready labeled tier 1,2, or 3 students (See IREADY Requirements/ Instructional Expectations)

§  Daily Math Instruction (Go Math/Think Central)

§  Daily Lesson Essential Questions / I Can Statements

§  Evidence of Gradual Release of Responsibility (I do. We do. You do.)

§  Writing for all content areas with evidence of ELA standard(s) at least once per week

§  Links and Attachments where applicable

§  ESE/ELL/504/Gifted student first names and their schedules (These items can be repeated items in plans.)

§  ESE/ELL/504/Gifted accommodations (These items can be repeated items in plans.)

§  Evidence of differentiation
                        -small group instruction
                        -remediation/enrichment plans
                        -30 minutes of required reading remediation for applicable students

§  Evidence of technology integration

§  Evidence of Kagan Structures
                        -Structures embedded
-Classbuilders- 1 per week
                        -Teambuilders- 2 per week

§  30 minutes of Physical Activity to meet PE Requirement
                  Other resources:
                  VMES Instruction Expectations located in Dropbox, Teacher Evaluation System-Danielson Model, Blooms/ Webb’s Depth of Knowledge

                  EDU Lesson Plan has built in drop-down tools for Kagan, ESE Strategies, ELL Strategies, Gifted Strategies, and Marzano High-Yield strategies.

Now each of these points makes sense. Some points are vital and cover a law. However, when you look at this document as a whole it might cause you to want to jump off the highest bridge or at least run screaming from your own school! I know some schools require even more. I had a teacher write me recently about having to show how they differentiate in each area, what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. For every subject! 

I think when lesson plans take hours upon hours to create, we lose the effectiveness. We lose the time to create quality engaging materials to actually cover all these requirements. Yes, I understand that there are some teachers who do a better job than others at writing plans and in the actual instruction. But I am not sure having the best plans makes you the best teacher. Even if I had a detailed plan on how to perform brain surgery, I would NOT be able to do it. Plan or no plan. 

I do think plans are important, but I also think we need to look at the effectiveness of a teacher in a multitude of ways. {That's a whole other can of worms! One I chose not to open at this point.} I do think that exposing teachers to best practices and holding people accountable for these practices makes sense. But teachers spending 5 hours a weekend on plans seems excessive. 

So to make life a little easier I started writing units of study with complete lesson plans. This was massive work in the beginning. However, now I have plans I can count on. Of course, I have to make tweaks and adjustments according to the needs of my students, but for the most part they are done. If this is something you are in need of, be sure to visit me at

Here are a few tools to help you get back your FULL weekend! Hope this helps. 

Emergency Sub Plans for 1 week!
Reading Plans Across the Year All Done!
Year Long Reading Plans
1 Week Lesson on Character Traits
Character Study Plans
Free Sample!
Free First Day Lesson Plans for Character Study
Free Lesson Plans for Character Study
Free Resources:

I would love to hear about your lesson plan horror stories and how you deal with them. Here's to a long full weekend!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Time for Back to School

Is it really that time already?! Well, let's get ready to go! Whether you need a little inspiration or you are ready to jump back in, Sir Ken Robinson can really remind you of your purpose and motivate you to jump back in.

Sir Ken Robinson Bring on the Learning Revolution
Sir Ken Robinson on TED

One of the things I love about back to school is the fresh start we get every year. I also love that my school takes on a new theme each year. The theme is always centered around a learning adventure, but the decor changes. For example, sometimes we are Swinging Into a New Adventure with a rainforest twist. Sometimes we are Taking off Into a Learning Adventure with space or superheroes. The best part is the whole school is decked out in the theme. Each hallway is decorated and even the rotunda is in full theme decor! The atmosphere feels alive and electric. It makes coming through the doors a magical experience. Here are some examples below. 

To go with the multiple themes, I have created some resources that allow you to prepare for the beginning of the year. Each pack comes with the following resources: 

Get Ready (Room Decor and Theme Ideas)          
Ideas for classroom decor 
Themed choices
Bulletin board ideas and templates
Name tags and team tags with different themes to choose from
Themed Numbers for behavior chart
Desk Nameplates
Name Tags or Multipurpose Labels                           
Multipurpose Labels                    
Book Bins  Labels                         
Welcome Back Theme Post Cards
Behavior Management System - Themed
Behavior Certificates
Changing Choices Contract
Weekly Folders
Super Hero Behavior Plan
Back to School Super Hero Pack 
Western Themed Samples and Behavior Charts Below
Back to School Western Theme

Get Set (Back to School Open House)
Open House “Giving Tree” Leaves
Open House Ideas and Directions
Open House Sign In Sheet #1
Open House Sign In Sheet #2                                                                                                      
Open House Scavenger Hunt
First Day Note (Parents write a note to students for the first day of school)
Something I Want You to Know
Parent Communication Record

First Week of School
Parent Letter 
Parent Packet Cover Sheet
Sample Classroom Schedule
Homework Contract
Classroom Contract
Parent Survey #1
Parent Survey # 2
All About Me 
Star Student
Beginning of the Year Survey
Create a Character - You Can Not Erase Words Activity
Classroom Compact (Goes With Create a Character)
Find A Classmate Who
Classmate Bingo
Venn Diagram Activity - Look Who Has “Venn” Working Together
School Year Goal Setting
Classroom Routines and Procedures
Behavior Graph
Team Signs
Binder Cover Sheets for Subjects
Back to School Packs and More!
Back to School Resources
I also have collected some really great ideas from teachers all over on my Pinterest Boards. I have boards for all different themes. There are tons of Free ideas for each type of classroom. 
Trina's Theme-based Pinterest Boards
Trina's Boards

Also, as an I hope you have a great year gift, I would like to also provide you a Free Preview of my Back to School Exit Slips.
Free Preview of Exit Slips
Free Exit Slip Preview

Have a great year. Happy Teaching!