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Monday, April 9, 2012

Lesson Planning, My Way- and a *Custom* Giveaway!

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 routine.

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!


  1. Thanks for the great post! Do you use just a table in Word and modify it? How do you get it on 2 pages?


    Sparkles , Smiles, and Student Teaching

  2. I follow your blog! This sounds fabulous! I use a template from Microsoft that my grade level and I came up with. Yours looks so much better than what we use though!

  3. I follow your blog! I have to submit detailed lessons with standards each week, but to make lessons less painful for me I write myself up a quick summary (three bullet points so I remember what I wanted to do)!... but your summary page is much prettier!

    I featured your giveaway on my weekly giveaway post for the week of April 8-15! What We Wish We Would Win!

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  5. Wow, Jenny! That is an incredibly generous prize! I have done my plans this way for years and know it takes for.e.ver to get it all set up just right! I'd like to share this on my blog if that's okay. . .

    Oh My Little Classity Class

  6. i just followed you're blog... :) you're blog is cute.. haha.. i'm looking forward to your next posts ! have a great day!

  7. i just wonder, what's behind the name "luckey frog"?

  8. I'm a follower! I need to make lesson plans less painful because either I spend forever doing them, or avoid them altogehter. Maybe if I had a better format I could find the happy medium!?!? I've tried to make lesson plan templates in the past and never seem to get it right, I would love to see what you can do!
    Mrs. Castro's Class 2nd Grade...Spanglish Style

  9. This looks great!! I made a template in Word as well, but yours looks so much better!! I am your newest follower!

    An Education Lasts a Lifetime

  10. Hey Jenny! Thanks for the encouragement! :) I really like your lesson plans! They look great and are super organized. I even like that you took the extra time to plan out the centers each week! Awesome work!


  11. I love that you are able to get the entire week on two pages. I have each day on a page, but would LOVE to see the entire week at once!


  12. I love the "week at a glance" format. You are generous and kind to be willing to do this for someone else too! {I hope that someone is ME :) }

    My time saving strategy for lesson planning is to leave only as much room as necessary to write notes for the day as I feel compelled to fill up all the space. :O) I may be a little obsessive....

  13. I'm currently student teaching and hate how the plan books go horizontally! I love that you made your own book! I'm now following your blog!

  14. Ahh, I forgot to leave my email address! It's!

  15. thank you so much for shadings your lesson planing template. this upcoming school year will be my first year teaching (right out of college) so thank so much. I love how I can customize it to my schedule, etc.

  16. I love your lesson plan template. I made one in microsoft excel, however I really like yours. I can't seem to find the download link; could you please e-mail it to me at

  17. Super!! I have been playing with a format for years. I have taken a little from each one and have come up with one that I like. I'd like to see how our format works with mine...

  18. I just got my first teaching job 3 weeks ago! And I never thought I'd have a different pull out schedule everyday of the week! I've been wondering what to do! Now I have an idea, thanks to you! Also I really connected with the part of this post when you talked about wanting to reinvent the wheel with lessons/activities. It has been exhausting dealing with my own outrageous enthusiasm. You're right! Routines are important and if it works, its ok to use it! This what just what I needed to read. You've got another follower!

  19. Great post! If possible, could you help me with this template? Cost?! Definitely worth it :)

  20. This would make me better organized!!! I used a dollar store lesson plan book. The book shorted me a few weeks.

  21. Just blogged about my NEW lesson plan book, thanks to you. I am so excited to use it! This is totally up my alley and I am so glad you created this. Thank you, thank you! Blog address is if you want to see pictures. Thanks again.

  22. Thank you for making something for everyone to use. I hate having to reinvent the wheel, you just made my life easier.

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your lesson plan template saved me so much time and is going to keep me so organized!

  24. I just found your page. I really like your lesson plan template, but I can't seem to access it? Any suggestions? Thanks!


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