Every teacher has to write lesson plans, but if college taught me anything, it's that there are a million different ways to do it. (I think we had a different required format in just about every class.)
While I was student teaching, my cooperating teacher used a one-page weekly summary and just filled in a few words as needed. My university supervisor wanted each hourly lesson to have a 5 page written-out format including every detail (like, every single question I planned to ask during a read-aloud). I had to find a happy medium.
I looked at teacher plan books out there, and found that most of them go horizontally through your day. I don't know about you, but I don't think horizontally. I like to move down the page as I go through my day.
I also don't have the same schedule every day. Due to different specials, the schedule varies somewhat from day to day, so customized plans work best for me. Luckily, I don't have to worry about turning my plans in, so I have a lot of control over how I write them.
I made my own plan pages in Microsoft Word, inspired by a co-worker. They include all of
the basic activities I teach each week, and I fill in the applicable
information. I don't have to write in our specials each week, or forget
to do our spelling pre-test on Tuesday, or write in our fluency poetry
As a student teacher, I wanted to constantly reinvent the wheel
with new and exciting activities, but I realize now that having a sort
of routine helps SO much. I can still update the activities within that
routine or change them up from time to time, but it makes my planning so much easier and the students know what to expect. New teachers, seriously- as long as they're quality learning tasks, it's okay to repeat them!
Having the routine on my planning page makes planning so much
easier each week. I find, too, that a two-page spread is pretty perfect
for me. I do keep small group plans at my small group table, but
otherwise, I have room to write as much detail as I need and a whole
week fits on two pages. It makes it so easy to plan when I can see the
whole week at once.
For the week, I have room along the bottom of the pages to write units, our current math topic,
our reading story, and our spelling pattern. I always include room for extra write-in reminders for the beginning and end of the day, too.
Sorry that my handwriting is just terribly messy on most of these photos. I promise, it doesn't always look like that!
I use the right column to
plan literacy and math centers, as well as our homework for the week and
any reminders I need weekly.
Anything out of the classroom is tinted gray so I can see specials and lunchtime really quickly at a glance, and it's easy to cross things out when our plans change (since, of course, they do constantly). I have to plan in pencil because I'm constantly adjusting, but I use colorful pens for big things that I know won't change!
As an added bonus, because each day
is set up uniquely in the table, I can copy the time column and that
day's column and streeeetch them out to get a quick head-start on sub plans. I think having the
sub plans in a table makes them easy to read at a glance, and I just
have to add more details instead of starting from scratch.
I love, love, love my lesson plan format. For me, it's a must-have to be organized, and it saves me so much time each week. I just keep it in my teacher binder, using a binder clip so when my binder opens, the plans do, too!
*EDITED TO ADD* Would you like a free STARTER set to create your own lesson plans? Get your free lesson plan starter template here.
I can also customize a lesson plan template just for you! You can find out more about that, along with lesson plan customizing tips, at this recent post!