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June 30, 2010

Lesson Plan Organization

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Lesson Plan Organization Ideas

Lesson Plan Organization Ideas

Get a jump start on lesson planning and organization for the fall with some helpful hints from veteran teachers. Whether you are looking for a new way to organize your books or just need a whole new bookkeeping system, these ideas are sure help. If you have a great tip for lesson plan organization, leave it below to share with other teachers!

Organizing Lesson Plans

Trusty Template

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, multi-grade K-2 Teacher Susie, uses a trick that she learned early on in her teaching career to manage her lesson planning for the year. “Here’s a golden nugget of an idea I learned from my supervising teacher back in my student teaching days,” Susie says. “She showed me how, once a basic schedule and routine has been established for the school year, I could use permanent marker to jot the day-to-day routines and stationary events (e.g., lunch, gym, etc.) into my lesson plan book in black marker. She told me to then photocopy this template and glue it into the remaining pages of my lesson plan book. I could then jot weekly plans around these “never-changing” events. This tip has saved me plenty of quality time when writing lesson plans.”

 

Helpful Labels

Paula, a 3rd Grade Teacher in Davis, California uses labels to help her get organized. “I use my computer to print self-adhesive labels noting the special classes and services that dot our days – e.g., pull-outs, push-ins, library, computer classes, music classes, monthly assemblies, field trips, art classes, etc. Then as I’m preparing my lesson plans, I transfer the labels to my plan book so all the schedule interruptions are pre-entered. I also have a check-off sheet for new enrollments that may enter our class throughout the year,” she explains. “That way, I just check my list for supplies, tests, or other chores and assessments I need to attend to when a new student comes in during the school year. Both these management strategies are huge time savers!”

 

Now, let’s hear from you! What strategies do you use to help you organize your lesson plans and class records throughout the year? Share with us in the comments below or on the Really Good Teachers Forums!

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  • Meaghan
    August 9, 2011

    I love the idea of using labels – it would be great for prep blocks with a checklist of things to do – then I could simply check off items that need to be done instead of writing it out.

    I use a combination of my computer plans – more long term and unit plans, and then put my short term activities into my lesson plan book. I only write short notes in my lesson book as I find once I have my unit planned, I know where I’m going and what I’m doing. My unit plan and all of the materials for each unit go into a binder. (One binder per unit)

    I might make a note of materials needed for an activity or reminders to myself such as photocopying. I teach high school so my lesson plan book also contains notes of how classes went and any behaviour issues or missing homework for a period.

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  • Sarah C
    March 20, 2011

    Using the labels is a good idea. They are pretty permanent once the are used, however, if something changes and you need to relabel a certain time or day, you can just print out a new label and attach it over the first label. So simple and timesaving!

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  • Deb H.
    July 1, 2010

    I taught kindergarten for 25 years and always purchased a published lesson plan book. Apparently a teacher did not designate their format because I could never get everything to fit. This past year I taught first grade and designed my own template on the computer. I should have done this sooner! Just like many of you said it is much easier and teacher friendly not to mention sub-friendly too!

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  • Tonya Coats
    July 1, 2010

    I actually like the templates that comes with the TA. Our team copies and paste the templates into our own first grade schedule. Our school has be on the same schedule as our grade level. So it works.

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  • Kelly
    June 30, 2010

    I like to color code with pens or colored pencils for different time blocks or subjects. Sometimes when things are temporary I write them on colored post-its, especially at the beginning of the year when the schedule is still working its way out. Also, when we do collaborative plans, we use Google Docs and people can input, move, and change and everyone can see it updated immediately! No need to erase or rewrite!

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  • Robin
    June 30, 2010

    I also use a computer template for my lesson plans (that I created myself,) that way you don’t need to rewrite the same things that recur week after week. I also save each week’s lesson plans for the next year. Not too much changes year to year but if it does I can easily and quickly make the adjustments that I need to do.

    Basically I feel like lesson plan books are just made so administration can check it. Of course it’s good to write down a plan for what you do each day, but when you’ve been teaching so long, it comes as second nature a lot of times. There are many days when I don’t even glance at my lesson plan book because I already know exactly what I am teaching all day. Anyone have similar thoughts?

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  • Shanda J
    June 30, 2010

    I have used the plan books for the past three and switched back to doing my own computer templates at the end of last year. I save my plans in folders on my flash drive, but I love Fay’s binder idea. That would make things so much more cohesive! Thanks for sharing!

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  • Melissa
    June 30, 2010

    Great ideas! I am always look for ways to organize lessons. I never have enough room to write lessons in those pre-made lesson plan books.

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  • Fay Davis
    June 30, 2010

    I also use a template for the lesson plan format our campus requires. We’re required to submit our plans at the beginning of each week, so I email them to my appraiser. I also print them out and put each day into a sheet protector, where I can also put handouts, quizzes, etc. These are in a 3 ring binder labeled “This week’s lesson plans” and then transferred to a big binder to store for the year. I keep the plans on a thumb drive so they’re easy to update for the next year.

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  • Sofia D.
    June 30, 2010

    I use my computer for my first two years and made my own lesson plan template which is great for all the cut and pasting of permanent routines, but I also enjoyed writing down my lessons in a plan book my third year. I found when I wrote them I remembered them more and didn’t miss or forget as much..I actually like doing both, but to chose which depends on the grade level.

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  • Jeannette Erickson
    June 30, 2010

    I, too, love my computer template. It standardizes my lesson plans with my grade level team. They can be kept in a binder which includes student info and school info with substitute plans for emergencies. I really liked the old lesson plan books-mine were beautiful with stickers and colors, but even I have been won over by the efficiency and practicality of the computer. Clip art and fun fonts have replaced stickers and labels and highlighters.

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  • sherrie weerheim
    June 30, 2010

    I used to use the lesson plan books because I wanted to. I loved the idea of writing down what I’ll be doing. But they got messy, I would lose my book and would be late in turning in my lesson plans which dinged me on my observation. Now I have switched to computer template. On my lesson plan, I state the target. I don’t put a closing statement, but something like “Students will use manipulatives to find the sums of numbers.” I put it in student friendly language on the board and outside my classroom. Having a template on my computer, I just copy and paste and then fill in what I need to.

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  • lindsay bauer
    June 30, 2010

    great ideas! I’m a 1st year and the advice is great!! 🙂

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  • Jennifer Berdion
    June 30, 2010

    I agree with Stacie, using the computer is so much easier because you can copy and paste. I used a hand written book last year and I found it much more time consuming. I will be going back to using a computer template again this year.
    If you are handwriting the lessons, the labels are a great idea. Thanks!

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  • Laura H
    June 30, 2010

    I’m required to use a specific lesson plan format by my district. Thankfully it has been converted to an Excel file that can be modified. After I find out when my special classes are set, then I format the template adding in bathroom breaks, lunch, and then I have the open blocks.

    I find out that using text boxes are the easiest way to add in lesson plans. There is no need for photo copying, you save each week as a seperate file and viola you’ve got your whole year’s lesson plans in a file. If you need to submit plans to your principal, you send the file. If you’d like a hard copy for your lesson plan binder, you simply print it out.

    I also enjoy making it look a bit fun by adding appropriate clip art for special events or holidays. For the block when kids have PE, there is a small picture in that block, or a paint pallet in the Art block, etc. It makes a plain white page, a little bit more personalized and fun.

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  • Cathy M
    June 30, 2010

    I created a template on my computer using Microsoft Word for writing lesson plans. I keep the routine activities, such as lunch, recess, specials, as part of the template. Our schedule changes during the 2nd semester, so I created a new template for the second part of the year.

    By saving copies, I can reuse the lesson plans the following year, adjusting dates, holidays, days off. Planning used to take hours, but can be completed in about 30 minutes.

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  • Emily
    June 30, 2010

    I use labels as well because inevidably there are days when the typical schedule changes and I need to move the labels around. At the beginning of the year, I also fill in all the vacation days, work days, end of grading period, etc. so I can plan around them easily. I’ve also tried to organize my plan time better so I can get more done during the day and not have to take as much home with me. To do this, I use a different colored pen to write what needs to get done during my plan time that day, i.e. grade certain papers, copy something for an upcoming lesson. This helps me stay focused and more efficient. That may help those of you that have to work hard at being organized like I do! I tend to start one project, then get distracted and start on something new, or I try to do it all at once and end up staying late! By organizing my time as well, I am much more efficent.

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  • karen warrick
    June 30, 2010

    when you are in a school that requires ALL to use the same plan book (yup they are still around)…..when basic schedules are set, wtth colored markers, I make an “overhead” with recesses, specials etc, and just lay it over my weekly plans. Quick glance and I know what is next. (or make a colored transparencie on computer)

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  • Laura
    June 30, 2010

    I use a method very similar to what Barb J uses. This form leaves plenty of space for me to write all the notes I need as reminders/organizers for me OR as additional notes should I be planning for a substitute. This allows for very detailed notes all in one place! Substitutes have commented that they like how I leave such well organized plans for them!

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  • Shea
    June 30, 2010

    At my school district we have MAPS. It’s objectives of everything I have to teach. I also have a template on my computer for my lesson plans. I save all my lesson plans and then I have them the next year.

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  • HeatherW
    June 30, 2010

    Our school requires a certain format to our lesson plans, including a statement for our introduction & closing. I created and saved a table template to my computer, then filled in the boxes w/ each part of the lesson plan – standards, intro, procedure, closing, assessment, materials. Every week, I erase everything but the first 6 words of both of the intro & closing (The student will be able to/ Today we have learned to/how…). My assessment strategies are coded – TO,TQ,Disc,Rvw of SW,EXS FA, etc. (teacher observation, teacher questioning, discussion, review of student work, exit slip, formal assessment). For the most part, these are the same week to week. This has cut down dramatically on the time I used to spend “reinventing the wheel” each week, since one-third of the lesson plan is automatically done before I ever sit down!

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  • Kathy
    June 30, 2010

    I agree with Barb. I create my own lesson plan book based on my class schedule…by doing so, I can create more space for certain subject areas, etc. I also use a binder & add my weekly newletter and the worksheets that I use for the week so that it is all handy for when I can look back from the previous year.
    But I do love labels, too! I make name labels and use them for everything now…no need to write my students name 25xs at the beg. of year on various things…just plop a label on it! (Plus, it is just as easy to cover last year’s student’s name on reuseable things).

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  • Cheryl shuster
    June 30, 2010

    I like the idea of the premade labels for the permanent things in the schedule. I seem to always waste time with that. I also like to have a folder with the items for new students so that when the parents come in for a conference I can pull out everything they need quickly.

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  • Stacie
    June 30, 2010

    I use a computer to do my lesson plans. I created a template much like the typical planning grid in word and filled it with all the day to day events. All I do is type in my weekly plans and print them out. I can cut and paste lessons from one document to another if I do the same lesson from one year to the next. It makes my life so much easier! I will never write out another lesson plan again!

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  • Charla
    June 30, 2010

    The new student list is something that I really need to do. I always forget something and feel bad when the new student feels left out. It is especially easy to forget something when the student is a surprise!

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  • Jennifer Nedrebo
    June 30, 2010

    I agree with Barb’s comment. I personally do not like the premade plan books either. Creating my own lesson plan template is so much easier!

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  • Barb J
    June 30, 2010

    Those are both great ideas! Personally, I don’t like using the pre-made plan books. On the computer, I create a simple template for my classroom schedule, which includes all of the set in stone things- like gym and pull-outs. Everything is typed onto the template, which I then simply photocopy for the year! I keep a 3 ring binder on my desk, and add these pages in as the year goes on. No need to paste anything or make labels!

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