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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: from national standards to specific lessons

I'm back today with another post on lesson planning! A couple of weeks ago I shared a brief overview for how I go about my long-range planning. Today I want to talk about my overall process for getting from the broad National Core Arts general music standards to my specific, day-to-day lesson plans.


1. From National Standards to Scope and Sequence

The first step is taking the standards and creating a more specific scope and sequence of skills and concepts that you want to cover in each grade level. In many cases, your district will have something already in place like this for you to use. My district started the process of re-writing our curriculum to align with the new standards this summer, and we came up with a scope and sequence for each grade level that took the concepts from our old curriculum and meshed them with the new standards. The simplest way to explain my way of thinking through the new standards is to think of the new standards as an added layer on top of the skills and concepts mentioned in the old national standards- for example, if you required 2nd graders to read and perform half notes in the old curriculum, you might require 2nd graders to perform half notes by reading standard music notation, and also use half notes in a short rhythmic ostinato accompaniment and discuss how using long and short sounds adds interest to rhythmic accompaniments. If you are interested in more specifics of how I went through this process in my own planning, check out my long-range planning templates. I also use these standards checklists to make sure I have covered all of the standards- it can get confusing and overwhelming when you start going back and forth between multiple documents, and I was finding that often I was completely missing a standard or two after I had finished mapping everything out! Having some way of checking them off as you go can really help with that process.

2. From Scope and Sequence to Monthly Plans

Once I know which skills and concepts I need to cover in each grade level, I like to map out a rough monthly overview of which skills and concepts I will cover in each month of the school year. I think this process is one of the most important ones for effective lesson planning, because I can plan ahead for special events like Music In Our Schools Month and performances, make sure I am keeping myself accountable to getting through everything, and plan out the most logical sequence for introducing new concepts. I wrote more about this specific process in my previous blog post on long-range planning.


3. From Monthly Plans to Daily Lessons

I plan out my specific lessons a week at a time- I plan ahead to have a chunk of time (usually an hour or two) to write out all of my lessons for the week in my planner and make any visuals and other materials I need to go with each lesson. With my monthly concepts planned out, it usually doesn't take me too long to write out my specific lesson plans, especially since I tend to write in a lot of the specific strategies I want to use to teach each concept in my monthly plans, as you can see in the picture above. I am lucky enough not to have to turn in any lesson plans to my administration or anything, so my lesson plans are pretty general- I'm the only one who needs to understand what I'm saying! :) Here's what my weekly lesson plans usually look like:


As you can see, it's really just a list of activities for each class. But I have friends who do have to turn in specific plans, showing how it aligns to the standards and blah blah blah, so I made up a lesson plan template PDF document with clickable check boxes for the standards. You can download that template for free here. And if you want my lesson plans, including all of the visuals I make to go with them, you can get those here.

4. From Daily Lesson Plans into the Classroom

I know some people have their lesson plan book open at their desk, or on their music stand, and just refer to that as needed when they are actually teaching. I am not one of those people. First of all, I don't really have a teacher desk anymore (and I like it that way- more room for movement). And even when I did, I didn't want to be walking over to my desk in the middle of my lesson. Nor do I want to be shuffling through seating charts, grade books, schedules, and lesson plans on my music stand in the middle of my classes- I want everything on my stand to be right at my fingertips (you can see how I have my music stand set up in this previous post). So I take one final step when I get to school each morning: I write out the bare-minimum lesson outlines for each class on a sticky note and stick it on my music stand next to my class schedule. That way I have a place to quickly glance if I lose track of what I'm supposed to do next (which happens more than I care to admit)!

I hope this helps give you some ideas for taking the standards from broad topics to specific lesson plans! I'd love to discuss this process with other teachers- leave your thoughts, suggestions, and questions in the comments! If you have a blog post to share, you can add it to our linky party on lesson planning resources below. You'll want to check out all of the awesome blog posts linked up- there are some great ideas from tons of music teacher bloggers!




8 comments :

  1. I am in complete awe of your planner. I love the colours you use, how neat it is and how organised. I must stop writing my weekly plans on post it notes...they get lost and I forget things. I need a planner like yours xoxo

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    1. Aww what a nice compliment- you couldn't have picked a better thing to comment on! ;) I am completely in love with my planner as well- it is the only way I manage my single mom/K-6 music teacher/blogger life even a little bit! And my newest love is adding color to my planner pages. I've found that just having some colorful pens and some washi tape makes me really look forward to my planning time each week- it's like my grownup replacement for what used to be my scrapbooking hobby- it fulfills my artistic side while still being very practical and productive ;) If you're interested, here's a video with an overview of what's in the different planners I've made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmdTLit5I58 Here's a blog post with a closer look at the different lesson planning layouts I've made (including one that's not in the video I just linked, because I made it at customer request recently): http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/2015/08/giveaway-and-sale.html , and here's my first (admittedly slightly lame) attempt at actual planner decorating with washi and stickers and such: http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/2015/08/planner-share-august-september-2015.html Thanks for stopping by and commenting!! :)

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  2. You and I create plans in almost the exact way, except that I usually started with scope and sequence, and then plug in the standards afterward. Also, you should know that you've inspired me to start using washi tape in my planner. I haven't yet decided how I'll do it, but I think it will help me to look forward to the planning process a little bit more each week :)

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    1. Haha, I'm thrilled to be bringing you over to the dark side, but what about this post inspired you to get into washi tape?!? I definitely enjoy the planning process more now that I am doing a little bit of decorating. It's not that I ever minded, per se, because it's something that I need to do to feel good going into the week, but I now actually look forward to my planning time and can't wait to sit down and plan everything!

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  3. I may have to get on the washi tap band wagon. I always thought it weird but everyone seems to swear by it! I love you planning ideas and I too have to write a quick little note about what I am doing sometimes. It's not that I don't know, but I don't have any down time in my day to recap what is next and we jump all over the place in age sequence - 5, K, 4, 2, etc. :) Thanks for the awesome ideas!

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    1. You and Jennifer both!?! Well I don't know what inspired this motivation to use washi but yes, it is indeed an amazing creation- if you click on the washi tape label in my sidebar you'll see several ways that I use it for very practical purposes while also adding a ton of cute and color to my life! It's seriously so awesome. My schedule jumps around too, and every day is different. Monday, for example, I have two 3rd grades, a 4th, two kinder's, two 1st's, and then a 5th grade class. It's a mess. I find I need the sticky note less and less as I settle into the year- right now my brain is still mush and I refer to it often to remember what I've got planned- but I do still need it for those moments when I spend the 2 minutes between classes filling out a behavior referral, going to the bathroom, and checking email (and finding an email with 10 more things that must be done by the end of the day)... ;)

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  4. I love this article. It's like a super reference for lesson planning. I too begin with the standards and then scope and sequence. Thank you for sharing your insights. I'll be referring back to this often.

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comment! It has taken years but I feel like I am settling into a good structure and routine to plan effectively without sucking away all of my time ;)

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