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Question: How Do I Plan When the Planning Has Been Done for Me?
Part 4: Orienting to a Lesson
This is part four 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 first entry, the module-level view, which we covered in the second entry, and the unit-level view, which we covered in the third entry. Here we focus on lesson-level planning. In the final two entries of this series we’ll cover the Reading Foundations Skills Block.
As we mentioned in previous entries, 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 primary document you’ll reference at this stage—the “close-up” stage—is the specific Module Lesson you are preparing to teach. Like most teachers, your lesson planning process most likely involves toggling between looking out over the week or weeks ahead and then focusing in on what’s right in front of you—tomorrow (or even today!). The process with our curriculum is no different. To prepare well for what’s coming tomorrow, it’s important to situate individual lessons within the module and unit, and it’s critical to spend focused time understanding and preparing for individual lessons and the arcs of lessons that may occur over the course of several days.
Each lesson in our curriculum provides detailed descriptions of everything from the purpose of the lesson, as stated in the learning targets, to the materials you will need, to suggested language for introducing new vocabulary, text-dependent questions, and myriad other “moments” in the lesson. Extensive Teaching Notes are provided to help you think through the key parts of the lesson and how each connects to previous and future lessons.
“Because this was my first year implementing the curriculum, I spent a lot of time reading the material to really understand what I was teaching. The teacher guides are extremely helpful when thinking about the 'flow' of a lesson. I've done my own work around building instructional slides to help with my pacing. But other than that, a lot of the heavy lifting has already been completed, especially compared to last year when I was using a different curriculum and working incredibly hard to find materials to use.”
– Kady Taylor, Grade 1 Teacher, Lead and K–2 Instructional Strategy Reading Lead Wilmington, Delaware
As curriculum designers, we’ve put tremendous thought into every part of every lesson, and we hope that they will come alive as you apply your own wisdom and expertise to delivering them. But the lessons need your input to be the best they can be. This is why analyzing each lesson and understanding its greater purpose is so important. Because all the basics for a strong lesson are already there, you can spend your prep time really thinking through how to make it most effective and engaging for your particular students and, importantly, how you are going to deliver it.
Hit the Download button at the top of this page for an Module Lessons Planning Task Card—print out the task card and use the questions to help you analyze and gain comfort with the Module Lessons. Use this task card often when you’re first starting out. Over time, you may find that you need it less and less.
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.