All teachers that come to class prepared come with a lesson plan. It doesn’t matter what style a teacher uses, or whether they have a style all their own, they simply need to be prepared. In the world of English Language Arts, there are some areas of the lesson plan that need a little more attention than others and that is why this subject, like all others, needs a lesson plan guideline all on their own. For this walk through, we’ll use the Backwards Lesson plan template as it is one of the most commonly used today.
While a lot of the information that will be presented here can be considered to be general, each is explained more in the light of ELA than anything else. Since it’s important to keep in mind that this article is from the point of an ELA teacher, there may be some aspects of planing that may be minimized or over-looked compared to the set up for other subjects.
LEVEL: This isn’t too important to the specific lesson, it’s mainly used as a reference for you to remember what grade you taught this to in order to help recall in editing the lesson.
CLASS SIZE: Class size is important to remember why the activities did or didn’t work. Some ELA activities don’t do well with large groups while some excel. It’s the same for small groups as well.
UNIT/SEQUENCE IN UNIT: Just so you don’t loose any pieces of the “larger picture” when working with thematic units.
TIME NEEDED: This is definitely an important piece as it helps to give you an estimate as to whether or not students will be able to get everything done in time, including reading assignments.
CLASSROOM COMPOSITION When it comes to ELA, this is a very important are of the lesson plan. When there are low readers, special education students, and Title I students throughout a school, it’s garunteed that you will need to work with these students to make sure that this lesson will work for them. Another idea that could be recorded her could be the current reading levels of students that had difficulty on this.
STAGE 1: IDENTIFY DESIRED RESULTS
a. ENDURING UNDERSTANDING
-GOAL A goal needs to be something that a student should be aiming at with your help, regardless as to whether they see the bigger picture.
-OBJECTIVES These are the more specific sections of the goals and are more rigid. Students will do these because it effects the goal.
-CONNECTIONS TO STATE/FEDERAL LEARNING STANDARDS With ELA this section is really important. A lot of times we ELA teachers don’t realize that we cross curriculums on a regular basis. The truth is that we do. By recorded all of the standards that each lesson hits upon, we can see where we have gone and where we need to go. Aside from crossing curriculums, this is an important piece as it allows us to see how many times we’ve gone over an area and whether or not the students are getting it.
b. ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS These are questions that will be posed to students during the lesson. They can deal with pretty much anything, but in ELA it’s really helpful to use this are to list comprehension questions that students may need to thing on in order to better understand what’s going on in their readings.
c. KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS Here you can record what students do, don’t, and should know about the topic of the lesson, along with what skills they already have that you are building on.
STAGE 2: DETERMINE ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE
d. PERFORMANCE TASKS Keep in mind that these tasks are what the students are doing, not you! As easy as it is to get lost in though and write out extravagant assignments in the hopes of creating mind-blowing writers and readers, we constantly forget how much we’re asking of the kids. Keep this is mind! These performance tasks include reading, writing, discussing, thinking, and pretty much any other -ing’ verb.
e. QUIZZES/TESTS/PROMPTS Just as it says. Use this space to also paste a copy of how you’re plan on grading them for these things. If you don’t make sure that you’re grading what you’re teaching…what are you grading? This is a huge issue in ELA as we tend to auto-grade based on mechanics and grammar, forgetting what the actually prompt was to begin with.
f. UNPROMPTED EVIDENCE What are you going to watch for? Improvement of accuracy or comprehension? This stuff can’t be tested and is more of a “check-in” than anything else.
g. SELF ASSESSMENT What do you want your students to keep an eye on? One of ELA’s favorite forms of self-assessment if self evaluations of vocabulary increase and gains made in the editing process.
STAGE 3: PLAN LEARNING EXPERIENCES AND INSTRUCTION
h. SEQUENCE This is the order in which your teaching things. In all areas it is important that a teacher has a guideline. After all, we’re only human and even we have an odd day in which we forget what we’re doing and when we’re doing it.
i. MATERIALS AND RESOURCES Keep track of what you need for books, notebooks, and other ELA materials here. Sometimes this can really make the difference on whether you have to rework the lesson or whether you’re good to go!
To summarize all of that, here are a few of the key things to watch for while you’re planning an English Language Arts Lesson:
* Student reading levels and abilities.
* Time frame – Can a student really comprehend what they’re rushed to read?
* Build on what students already know and have success with.
* Make sure you have all the materials needed so that students aren’t sharing books, a possible catastrophe.
Have fun when you teach! Just remember that teaching and learning is supposed to be a lesiure….or at least that’s what the Greeks say!