Lesson Planning
SmallGroup Lessons
In the fall, I wrote and taught three smallgroup lessons in literacy, math, and science. Part of each lesson plan was a section entitled “Anticipated Student Responses.” I had never written a lesson plan before with this type of section, but quickly learned the value of it. In the Anticipated Student Responses section, as the title states, I tried to think about how students might respond to my teaching. Would there be classroom management issues? Would the students struggle with any of the material? How would they engage with the lesson? This type of thinking – going back over lesson plan and thinking metacognitively about the plan itself while predicting how it would play out – helped me learn how to think through every step of a lesson to envision both what might happen and how to respond to what might happen.
Anticipated Student Responses in Math This is the first time my students have worked with dot cards, so they might be a little confused. It may take them a few rounds of reading the cards for them to become comfortable with “reading” the dot cards. If it seems like they are struggling in the opening activity, I will show them several more dot cards in that round before moving on to adding the numeralwriting component. Another part of the lesson students might struggle with is grouping or “chunking” the dots. But that’s part of the goal of the lesson, for them to begin to see how it’s more efficient to count the dots by subitizing them. So if the students only count the dots by ones, then I will model grouping by showing them my strategy and telling them how I see the dots. I think the students will find using the whiteboards engaging. We use them in class about every other week for phonics activities, and the students seem to like using them. Whenever we use them for wholeclass activities, the students get excited and pay close attention to the activity. Also, I think that the fast pace of the activities, that each dot card only takes a minute or two, will keep the students engaged.
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Anticipated Student Responses in ScienceI anticipate that the students will be able to find the camouflaged animals in the slideshow quite easily, but the pictures in the book are a little more difficult. Because of the students I have chosen to be in the small group, however, I’m confident that at least one student will see each animal. I anticipate that some students will have trouble remembering to use the silent thumbs up instead of calling out or pointing, and I will have to remind those students to use the signal and that I can only call on students who are waiting quietly with the signal. Some students might get hung up on wanting to know what all the animals in the pictures are, but that’s not a goal of this lesson, so I will try to move them to the next picture at a good pace. I think students might find making their own camouflage challenging, so I will be prepared with several models/samples to show the students if they don’t understand after my first example.
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For the science smallgroup lesson I wrote, I kept track of my brainstorming and focusing process. The initial ideas I had about what to teach were narrowed down, and I wrote a metacognitive reflection on how I narrowed the list down and why I chose the final lesson topic I chose. Click here to see the brainstorming process. (Artifact 12) Deciding what to teach next is an important skill for a teacher, since the lessons I plan should be based on what my students already know and what I think they need to know. I have learned to look at state standards, curriculum goals, previous units, and my own goals for my students as I plan lessons. The context in which a lesson or unit is situated plays a strong role in how the students receive and respond to the lesson, as well as how much learning they retain. A lesson for which the students have a context and background will leave much more “residue” than a lesson that seems completely disconnected from everything else the students are doing in class.
In addition to reflecting as part of the lesson planning process, the smallgroup lessons I taught in the fall included sections on reflection. These reflections included thoughts on what I would do differently if I were to teach the lesson again, as well as thoughts on what went well and what I learned generally about teaching and learning. Finally, as part of each reflection, I thought about what I learned from teaching the smallgroup lesson that I would like to implement in my teaching practice moving forward. To see my reflections from each lesson as posted under the "Lesson Design" section of this website, click on the corresponding content area links: Math, Science, Literacy. (Artifacts 1315)
In addition to reflecting as part of the lesson planning process, the smallgroup lessons I taught in the fall included sections on reflection. These reflections included thoughts on what I would do differently if I were to teach the lesson again, as well as thoughts on what went well and what I learned generally about teaching and learning. Finally, as part of each reflection, I thought about what I learned from teaching the smallgroup lesson that I would like to implement in my teaching practice moving forward. To see my reflections from each lesson as posted under the "Lesson Design" section of this website, click on the corresponding content area links: Math, Science, Literacy. (Artifacts 1315)
An Integrated Curriculum Unit
During the two weeks when I was the fulltime teacher (my “takeover”), I taught a curriculum unit that I wrote on “Exploring Our Neighborhood.” The unit integrated social studies and literacy, and it introduced the kindergartners to the concepts of community, neighborhoods, maps, and guidebooks. I wrote the entire unit before I began teaching, but as soon as I began to teach it, I quickly discovered that many more revisions would be necessary! At the end of each day I taught, I sat down with my lesson plans from that day. I reviewed my plans and what I had actually accomplished, and I took notes on the day overall – pacing of lessons, transitions between lessons, the overall feel of the classroom. Only after taking notes on that day’s plans would I turn to the next day’s plans. The document below is an example of how I took notes on two days' worth of lesson plans after teaching them. I noted what went well, what the students struggled with, and what I would do differently.
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In addition to taking notes at the conclusion of each day and using those notes to revise my lesson plans for the next day, I reorganized my curriculum unit each night during the first week of my takeover. After the first day, I realized that I had written a curriculum that was conceptually beyond my students – the idea of a neighborhood, and to some extent even the idea of a community – was an abstract concept that would take a lot more time to unpack and investigate than I had anticipated. So each night I would sit down with my twoweek plan and look at the activities I had planned; I tried to decide which activities were most important for moving students toward the enduring understandings I wanted them to grasp, and which activities were nonessential. I also rearranged lesson blocks throughout the days, because the first day I saw that I had planned too much writing in a continuous period of time for my kindergartners, which caused multiple behavior issues. Click on each picture to see larger images of how I revised my daily and weekly plans. The larger image is from Week 2 of my curriculum, while the smaller images are from Week 1.

In the end, I probably taught 65% of the material I had planned for my unit, but my students learned the essential ideas of the unit: that they belong to communities, that their neighborhood is a community they can learn about, and that we can share our knowledge with others. They produced a class map of University City, engaging in dialogue about how to categorize places and which symbols to use to represent categories, and the wrote a class guidebook to their favorite places in University City. Although it was a lot of work to revise the unit over and over, I definitely saw the value in reflection and revision. Had I not taken the time to reflect and revise, I would have continued to move too quickly through the material, resulting in confused, disengaged students and probably classroom management issues.