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Monday, November 26, 2018

How to Find the Time to Lesson Plan

Do you ever find it difficult to find the time to get everything done at school?  Do you have to take work home just to keep up?  This post has some ways you can manage the work each day and make more time for yourself!

How to Find the Time to Lesson Plan

Use Your Prep Time As Efficiently As Possible

I know, I know. Planning periods are often taken up by things like meetings and conferences, but when you do get those few unencumbered moments, use them to your advantage. 

Do the Things at School That Can’t be Done at Home: 


I try to get all my copies done on Fridays for the upcoming week if I haven't had time during the week to get it done.  The copier is ALWAYS breaking, so I don't want to wait and take the chance the following week that I won't be able to get it done.

Parent phone calls 
Please don't EVER make these from your home or cell phone.  For one thing, it's important to keep those healthy boundaries between work and home.  For another, this is one of those things that really is best done at school for several reasons.

"Batch" the Tasks
What I mean by "batching" is to focus on one thing/subject at a time and finish that before moving on.  For example:

  • Make the lesson plans
  • Gather the materials
  • Make the copies
  • Grade the assessments
  • Decide if any of these things can or should go home for completion (with the exception of copying)

Plan With Your Grade Level When Possible
Try to collaborate with anyone who teaches the same thing so you can work together on units.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel
If lessons or units don't need to be changed from previous years, don't bother with them. Focus on  making your lessons work smarter, not harder.

  • Make sure you have accommodations/modifications written into your lessons for students with special needs. 
  • Fluff (worksheets, filler notes) should get tossed aside quickly for learning driven by the students, such as projects where they have to actually find the answers instead of you preparing the information for them.
  • Have a set number of assignments that repeat and use the same template. So the form doesn't change, but the content does. That way you don't have to create everything over and over.
Use An Online Planbook
I have the app on my phone, which means I can change or view lessons ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.
  • PlanbookEdu :  This website has practically saved my life this year.  Yes, it's not free, but it's worth every penny.  You can input your state standards above your lessons and it keeps track of how many you've covered in your lessons.  You can attach files that you need.  You can print and email the whole plan book or a selection.  In a word, priceless.

When You Can't Get It All Done During Your Planning Period:

Have set “late nights” like Tuesdays and Thursdays (or whatever works with your schedule). 
That way you can get what you need to get done when there aren't so many people around to break your concentration. You're sacrificing a bit of time for work so that your don’t have to be stressed when you’re hanging out with your family. That way you can have the energy you need to give them.

Get To Work Early Instead of Staying Late or Taking Work Home
You will be so much fresher and not have the same interruptions you do by staying later in the afternoon. Of course if you're like me, I'm still groggy in the morning so I actually prefer staying later in the afternoon.

Be Very Selective About The Work You Do Take Home
Whether you have a family or not, your time in the evenings is short and you NEED downtime to recharge your batteries. Sure, you can power through some nights without much sleep, but if you do it too often, you are setting yourself up for teacher burnout.

You can read more about this in my "Avoiding Teacher Burnout" post.

How to Find the Time to Lesson Plan and Avoid Teacher Overwhelm

Go to Your "Happy Place" to Grade Papers

Sometimes I have to leave the house to grade so concentrate at a Starbucks and knock out papers that way.

Join An Online Support Network
There are many Facebook and online teacher communities designed to support your effort to get more work done at school and bring less home. 

Many teachers have highly recommended the 40 hour teacher work week club

How do you balance it all?  I can always use more tips on how to do this!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Do You Really Need to be Teaching The Scientific Method?

Have you ever questioned the need to teach the Scientific Method because it isn't part of your county's or school's pacing guide or the NGSS standards?  Then read this post to help you decide!

Do You Really Need to be Teaching The Scientific Method?

From a Standards Perspective, No

It's not a Performance Expectation in the NGSS, but it is in the Science and Engineering Practices. With NGSS, it's meant to be woven through your curriculum as opposed to it being taught by itself.

NGSS is more correlated to the CER (Claim Evidence Reasoning), as opposed to the scientific method. 

From A Life Skills Perspective, Yes

You might think of it like the Scientific Method, or inquiry, is now referred to as "engineering practices", so it means that you should still teach it.

It will be helpful as science requires investigations and labs. It may not be assessed but it is still imperative to teach to hone their skills in doing investigations and writing lab reports.  If you think about it from a procedural perspective (outside of standards alone), they need it to successfully complete labs. You might not need to spend a ton of time on it, but I’d at least expose them to it.

So how do you teach it without spending too much time on it since it’s not standards-based?

Have Students Generate Their Own Labs

This is the blank lab report sheet I have students use when they are creating their own labs.  

Do You Really Need to be Teaching The Scientific Method?

Give Students an Example Lab and Have Them Identify the Steps of the Scientific Method

I use this Scientific Method Foldable to do just that.

Do You Really Need to be Teaching The Scientific Method?

Get Students Moving to Review the Scientific Method

We have a lot of fun reviewing with my Scientific Method Human Bingo Board

Do You Really Need to be Teaching The Scientific Method?

What else would you add to the activities that you use to review the Scientific Method or teach it in context?  I'd love to hear your ideas!