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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Planner Setup Tip: Simplifying Weekly Lesson Planning

I made a small but significant change to my planner setup this school year and after test-driving it for a couple of months I'm officially in love!

So let me show you what I did and then I'll explain what it is, how I use it, and why it's awesome :)

For those who don't know, I designed a planner years ago where I can keep everything in one place, from lesson plans for my elementary general music classes to meal planning, from concert organization to birthdays and anniversaries, and everything in between. If you aren't familiar with what my planner is like, here's a video "tour" from a couple of years ago, which takes you through all of the different sections of the planner:

I've had a section for "curriculum" since I first started this planner system, and as my lesson planning systems and resources have changed, the contents of that section have changed as well. A couple of years ago I started creating and using monthly lesson banks to more effectively fill the gap between my long-range yearly plans and my day-to-day lesson planning. If you aren't familiar with that system, stop everything you're doing and go read the post below- it has been life-changing for me!

Until this year, I was referencing those all-important monthly lesson banks in two ways: 1) on my computer, and 2) a hard copy of the current month, which I kept in the back pocket of my planner. As I completed each month's plans I would print out the next month and throw away the old one.

The problem was I found myself referencing those monthly lesson banks so often that it was sometimes inconvenient not to have a hard copy of every month at my fingertips! And as I reflect on my curriculum and lesson plans this school year to dig deeper into how to better represent and respect all of my students from differing backgrounds and perspectives, I have wanted to have a hard copy where I can jot down ideas when I think of them, and pull out several months at a time to look at them side-by-side.

Enter my planner setup update: the grade level tabs within the curriculum section of my planner!

For each grade, I printed out the yearly outline for which skills and concepts I plan to cover each month, with the curriculum overview for each grade level based on the standards on the back of that page. Behind that, I have each month's lesson bank:

I was avoiding having everything printed and included in my planner because I never want to add unnecessary bulk, but these monthly plans have become such a critical part of my planning process that it is worth it for me! If you want to get a closer look at what my monthly lesson banks are like, you can download the September plans for 5th grade for free right here, and you can get all the templates I used to set up everything from my long-range curriculum documents to my specific lesson plans, plus the directions for how I did it, in this free email course.

I love having everything organized this way, and having the tabs-within-tabs makes it easy to find what I need when I'm writing up my lesson plans. Anything that saves me time with all those different lessons is a huge win for me! If you don't want to add too much bulk to your regular planner, this would also be a great binder to set up separately with tabs for each grade and the grade level overviews and monthly plans organized within each grade.

I hope you found some fresh inspiration and new ideas to help you simplify your general music lesson planning! If you want more ideas like this sent straight to your email, be sure to sign up here for the Organized Chaos Newsletter so you can stay up to date on the latest happenings around these parts :)

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