The Seven Year Itch

Currently, I am at the (almost) end of my 6th year of teaching, and alas it is that time of year again–no, not final exam reviews or field trips–it’s time to start next year’s PDP.  I have been doing some serious reflecting, and I have decided that for year seven, things need to change.  I really need to work on my lesson planning.  I know, I know…I am just as surprised as you are!  I mean, the best part about teaching (as opposed to student teaching, or being a teacher-in-training) is that you are no longer required to write long-form lesson plans. (Woohoo!  Freedom!  Joy!) But here’s the problem.  I have spent so much time simplifying my plans that I have been much less consistent, and even a bit lazy…(i.e. “okay all, we are finished with everything for today, so you may talk quietly or read until the bell.”)…and that is SO NOT ME!  (I believe in–and [normally] strive for–bell-to-bell instruction.)


So now, in preparation for year 7 of my teaching journey, I am going back to a long(er) lesson plan form. Here is an example of my set up:


Date: Tuesday 5-19-14


Goal: Closely read and summarize the memoir of Eric Babbitt. (RI.8.2, RI.8.4, RI.8.6, RI.8.10)

Lesson Phase and Objective

Lesson Phase Details and Corresponding Standards

Important Vocabulary


Differentiation and



Success Starter

Objective: compare and contrast (L4) your life with the lives of those teenagers you see in the video

Video Clip: Teen Cancer Patients: How are the stories of these teenagers similar and different from your life? http://www.youtube.

com/watch?v=y1Lablc6NQg   (RI.8.3)

Academic: compare, contrast

Content: cancer, terminal illness

12 min (vid)

2 min (write)

3 min (discuss)


closed captions, graphic organizer, use of native language


Objective: relate (L2) others’ reality to our own; determine (L3) the impact of life-changing experiences

How can being terminally ill change you? (RI.8.1)

Academic: relate, determine

Content: terminally ill, cancer, impact, ‘life-changing experience’

2 min


native language, direct questions (vary by student)


Objective: perform (L3) close reading using the memoir of Eric Babbitt

Close Reading Strategies:

-chunk text (RI.8.10)

-highlight vocabulary (RI.8.4)

-determine vocab meaning in context (RI.8.4)

-determine important big ideas; author’s purpose (RI.8.6)

Academic: Close reading, chunk, context, main ideas

Content: recurring, sink in, daily grind, flashbacks, ordeal, oblivious, anesthetized, hanging on a thread, fragile, took a toll, forks in the road

20 min


anchor chart, native language, erasable highlighters,


Smart Board Model (FM, DK)


Objective: summarize (L5) Eric Babbitt’s non-fiction memoir

Summarize Eric’s memoir.  Be sure to include the big ideas. (RI.8.2)

Academic: summarize, main ideas, details

Content: recurring, sink in, daily grind, flashbacks, ordeal, oblivious, anesthetized, hanging on a thread, fragile, took a toll, forks in the road

10 min


summary anchor chart, model,


graphic organizer (FM, DK)


Let’s explore the benefits:

  • I can clearly see my timeline for the lesson; it is easy to follow and easy to read
  • Transitions are clear and make sense
  • Levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and standards are attached to objectives and activities, respectively, and they convey depth and connection
  • Each phase has an objective so I know exactly what students need to be able to do at any point during the lesson
  • I have a background as to what vocabulary needs to be explained and I can adjust my lesson according to it and even frontload that information if needed
  • I can clearly see the differentiation in the lesson, and also the accommodations and who they are for
  • This makes it so much easier to set up my agenda (with timeframes!)
  • This form allows me to think out exactly how I want the lesson to go and affords me the opportunity to really think through my decisions


Let’s explore the challenges

  • The dang boxes are sometimes too small
  • It’s long
  • It takes a bit more time than one box per day

Because the benefits outweigh the challenges, I am going to stick with this template; at least until my planning, lessons, consistency, etc. improves. I need something that will help me think through my lessons from start to finish. I encourage you to think about your planning, too, and how it can help you become a better, more prepared, and more consistent teacher.  If you, like me are struggling with planning, take the template you see here and add or remove boxes at will.  For instance, I am considering adding a box for questions that I will ask my students during the course of the lesson. Make it work for you.  But mostly, don’t be afraid to make a change if it is needed.  Changes in our practice should occur often, not just at our seven year itch.  


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