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Question: How Do I Plan When the Planning Has Been Done for Me?
Part 2: Orienting to a Module
This is part two of a six-part series on preparing to teach the EL Education K–5 Language Arts Curriculum. We are zooming in from the wide-angle year-long view, which we covered in the last entry. Here we’ll keep zooming to the module level. In subsequent entries we’ll cover unit-level and lesson-level planning, and then devote a couple of entries to planning for the Reading Foundations Skills Block.
As we mentioned in the last entry, preparing to teach a curriculum that has already been written requires a different kind of planning than writing lessons from scratch. But just because the curriculum is already written, doesn’t mean you don’t have to plan! It’s just a different kind of planning that requires you to think about how to make the curriculum your own and how to make it the best it can be for your students.
The module is the heart of the curriculum. It drives the content and skills students will focus on for approximately eight to nine weeks, before they move on to a new module. There are four modules per year, each with a different content and skills focus. A module is made up of more than just the Module Lessons, though you could argue that they are the main characters on this eight- to nine-week stage. Just as important are the “supporting characters”: the Labs, the ALL Block, and the optional Life Science module that accompanies Module 2 in Grades 3–5.
Just like in a play, these supporting characters are a critical part of how students experience the module. They help students explore the content in different ways and reinforce the skills they are learning. The Module Lessons plus these complementary blocks make up the content-based literacy component of the curriculum.
There are several key documents that will orient you to each module: the Module Overview; the Assessment Overview and Resources; and, for Grades K–2, the K–2 Labs Overview for the module and the K–2 Labs Materials List.
In each Module Overview, there is a small box called the Four T’s (see below). This box will give you a quick snapshot of the topic, texts, targets, and tasks of the module. If you have time, we recommend that when you review the Module Overview, you cover this box up with sticky notes (no peeking!) and grapple with the Four T’s on your own or as a team as you examine the documents. Grappling is good for students; it’s also good for you. Searching for this information will likely make it stick a bit more than just reading it.
Hit the Download button at the top of this page for an Orienting to a Module Planning Task Card—print out the task card and use the questions to help you analyze the important overview documents for the module and make connections between the Module Lessons and the Labs and ALL Block. (Note: Although there are some connections to the ALL Block made in the Module Overview, the real unpacking of the ALL Block is best done at the unit level. You will find guidance for that work in the next Curriculum Q & A Post.)
If you’re looking for more information, check out our website or our book Your Curriculum Companion: The Essential Guide to Teaching the EL Education K–5 Language Arts Curriculum. If you have questions related to this blog, please email us at: ELcurriculumblog@eleducation.org.