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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Reorganizing Lesson Plans Post-Pandemic

After over a year of completely reinventing teaching practices, I have a lot of new lesson ideas and resources that I hope to incorporate into my teaching long-term (and some I never plan on using again!). But it can be a little overwhelming to think about the prospect of sifting through the mess of last year's lesson plans and incorporating them into my pre-pandemic curriculum in an organized way! Here's how I'm reorganizing my lesson plans so I can merge last year's new ideas into my long-term curriculum.

Long-Range Plans

I have been a big believer in my long-range planning system for years, but I am thoroughly convinced after I saw it stand the test of the pandemic! If you haven't already, this is the time to get a scope and sequence, yearly outlines, and monthly lesson banks organized by concept- I've written about how I've set those up in this post:

I've had this framework in place for several years now, but as I attempt to clean up from the chaos of last year the first step I'm taking is to look through my long-range plans with fresh eyes. The pandemic has forced all of us to think carefully about what is truly most important for students to learn, especially when so many of our normal activities were stripped away. So before I can decide which lesson ideas I want to keep, I need to make sure my long-range plans are aligned with my current thinking on where I want to spend more or less time and which concepts and skills I'm prioritizing for each grade. 

I've always spent some time rethinking my long-range plans over the summer each year, so I don't have a lot of changes I'm making here, but for me there are a few things I'm adjusting because I've found more streamlined ways to address specific projects with my older students with our new one-to-one devices, freeing up a little time in my yearly outlines to include other things.

Reorganizing Lessons

The most time-consuming task in this process is going through last year's lesson plans and pulling out the ones that worked that I may want to keep long-term. As I go through my plans from last year, I'm looking for new ideas that worked just as well or better than the activities I used pre-pandemic and putting them in their place for long-term use. This is where having monthly lesson banks, where I have a running list of lesson ideas to address the specific skills and concepts I'm covering, is key! For lessons I used this past year that are actually better than what I was doing pre-pandemic, I'm replacing my old lesson activities with the new ones for the specific concept it addresses in the grade level and month I'm covering it in my long-range plans. In most cases, I'm adding the new ideas to the running list rather than replacing anything. The beauty of having monthly idea banks is that I can pick and choose which specific lesson activities will work best without getting off track with my long-range plans. In a lot of cases there are ideas I used this past year that will be better for some situations and not for others, but having them in my toolbox will be great!

The main point here is to identify the lesson ideas from this past year that are worth keeping long-term, and put them in a place where I can find them when I want them. I know I don't have the time or mental energy mid-year to find that one awesome website I used last year when the opportunity arises- I need to identify what concept(s) the activity addresses and where it fits in my long-range plans so I can put it where I would use it!

This is a big project but I think one of the most impactful ways I can make sure I don't just fall back into old habits as I return to more normal teaching conditions or find myself having to reinvent the wheel again if and when we go through periods of ongoing pandemic protocols! I'm truly so grateful to have the curriculum framework I have in place because it makes this process so much easier and more effective- if you haven't gone through the process of creating this for yourself I highly recommend it! You can sign up for this free email series which takes you through the process step by step, including templates for laying out everything from your scope and sequence down to weekly lesson plans:

This post is part of an ongoing series on "cleaning up the covid chaos" as I process everything that happened over this past school year and try to put things in order, literally and figuratively! If you want to read about the other aspects I'm tackling this summer you can find those posts here:

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