I spent 4 days assisting in the facilitation of professional development for our district this past week. I was assigned to the physical science strand which is really one of my favorites. Students love the hands on physical changes that come with force and motion along with changes in matter.
If you want to know what tools we're using for planning, click to read more. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Our mornings were spent examining this strand from a vertical perspective. We joined together with middle and high school teachers to deconstruct the custom curriculum topic study guides (CTS) provided by NC DPI. For many teachers, this was a new approach. I learned how to use the CTS process a couple of years ago. It draws all of the research about how kids learn science, what they are able to understand and make sense of conceptually at certain ages, and what they should know by the end of specific grade bands. CTS makes it easy for me as a teacher to know exactly what misconceptions to be prepared to address too. Another resource that we worked with were the Formative Assessment Probes written by Page Keeley. You can read about them and view some samples here.
In the afternoons, we split off by grade levels to begin writing lesson plans for the coming school year.
Our district has a focus group that was responsible for writing unit plans. These are the starting point for our lessons. They include the Essential Standard, Clarifying Objective, Essential Questions, Learning Progressions (based on the revised Bloom's Taxonomy), Knowledge/Skills, Formative & Summative Assessments, Professional Resources, Math Connections, and Literacy Connections.
Our team is encouraging teachers to utilize the 5 E's lesson plan method to develop opportunities for inquiry based learning.
A few years ago, I found a website called TeacherEase. If you are the first one to try it from your school, you can use it free for a year. (Of course, I'd love it if you told them I sent you. I think you have to give them my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here's what I love about this site. You can customize the headings on the lesson plan template. You can set up multiple subjects and classes. Here is the real selling point for me: the standards are readily available in a drop down menu format. No re-typing or copying and pasting for me. All you have to do is choose the subject and then choose the standards/grade level you want to connect to it. Then when you go to plan your lesson, just click the drop down menu and pick the standard you are focusing on.
When it is time to print your lessons, everything lines up nice and neat in a table. Sometimes I get rather detailed and my plans will span multiple pages. If this happens, I just copy and paste the whole thing into a word processor and change the font sizes or widths of the columns until I get it to fit the way I want.
In the end, I linked to some really great resources for CTS on my website and plan to begin sharing my lesson plans there too. I don't think I can share the unit plans but I will share a sample and template. Check back throughout the summer to watch the website grow.