Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who says teachers don't work in the summer?

I told myself that I wouldn't be spending my summer at school. That I wouldn't go in till August. Well, I couldn't keep that promise. But I have only been twice. Once was to drop off things I had been collecting at home and the other was after the janitor called and said they were done with my room. I had more things to drop off and some things to pick up. So I wasn't there much BUT I spent most of June working on school-related tasks at home. I planned all my lessons for the year. Yes you read that right.

This is my summer routine for lesson planning: Before school gets out, I compile ideas of new things I want to try. In the past I've allowed myself to purchase a few teacher idea books, usually Mailbox. However, this year I've discovered Teachers Pay Teachers so I bought some things from there. I decide on my themes for the year, and I print off blank lesson planning sheets. These are just what I use during summer planning.
In past years, I have used this form for my official lesson plans. However, this year I am planning to use an online lesson plan tool where you put the activities on line and then plug them into the plans. I think it will be time consuming to do at first but worth it due to not having to write everything out year after year. This is what my plan sheet from last year looked like. I have the learning standards on the left and bottom and circled them each day.

After school gets out, I write the themes and dates on the sheets, blacking out holidays and other changes in our schedule. As I'm sure you do, I keep my lesson plan books from year to year and use them to plan. I plug in books, small group lessons, large group lessons, and activities for center time. I always leave some out that I'm tired of, didn't go well, etc. In those holes I put new ideas. All this usually takes me a couple of weeks.

Once I've decided what activities I'm going to use, I organize them by weeks. To do this, I use crates with hanging file folders. I have two folders in each hanging folder: activities and copies. I have 5 crates for the year, 36-38 weeks, depending on the year. I number the crates and also label them with the weeks they contain so it is easy to find things. All this takes me about another week.

After I get all this organized, I go through each week and make notes on what I have to do to get ready. I'll make games and posters, etc. This takes another couple of weeks, depending on how many activities I reuse from year to year. 

After I have completed this, I go through each week and complete a To Do/To Collect sheet. I put this sheet in front of the lesson plan sheet for each week in my lesson plan binder. This way, on Fridays I can see what I need to do or collect for the upcoming week. I try to do as much as I can ahead of time in the summer, but some things have to be done right before.

This is my way of keeping my sanity throughout the school year. I am a busy mother of three boys and planning lessons and getting all the hands-on  activities ready each week was just too much for me. Even just finding them in my black hole preschool basement is more than I have time for each weekend. So I work in the summer to keep my sanity during the school year. But I'm done. With my lesson planning.

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