I am a math instructional coach and one of the coolest parts about my job is having the opportunity to work with teachers every 6 weeks to plan the upcoming math units. I am going to share with you some examples of the resources I have developed and the process we go through during our unit planning time.
Before we dive right in I do want to say that every school's unit planning may look a little different depending on resources and time available. I created this system based on our school's resources and need. Please feel free to follow this process or modify it as you see fit for your school. If you have any questions or need clarification you can email me here.
When do we meet?
We try to meet the week before the new 6 weeks cycle begins. If we have scheduling conflicts, we adjust accordingly.
Below is a brief description of what we do during our unit planning. There is a lot more that goes into the unit planning than what I can share in a short blog post. Please email me with questions you may have.
1. Check-In - Do an overall check on how things are going. - What do we need to continue to work on? - What new struggles are students having that we need to address?
2. Break down the standards of each unit During this process, we dig deep into the standard. What specifically are we going to teach? What vocabulary is important in this standard? What language are we going to use? What strategy will we use as a grade level? We also look at how this standard is aligned to the previous grade level and how it is going to align to the upcoming grade level. We also determine the order we will teach the standards in a math unit. Below are some examples of how we have broken down our standards. Example 1 is printed on an 11 x 17 piece of paper. It is a quick glance at all the standards for the unit. Example 2 is presented in a mini-book format. It is a one-page description of each standard and then is bounded as a mini-book. I have found that our teachers prefer the mini-book format. *** We always break down an entire unit before moving on to the next unit.***
3. Create the Test Now that we have broken down the unit standards, it’s time to create the test. I have
done this in two different ways. Option 1: I create the test ahead of time, and we go over it together as a team. If the
team wants to change the format of a question and it still aligns with the standard, then I will make those changes. It is important that you still give teachers the opportunity to give feedback and listen to that feedback. I believe teachers are the experts of their classroom and sometimes they think of things that I never thought of before and the test goes from good to great! Option 2: Teachers create the test. I give the planning sheet as shown below and the teachers create the test based on the standards of the unit. We discuss how many questions should be on the test and the frequency with which we test each standard. Once we have the outline of the test, I will take it and format the test for the teachers. When I am finished with the formatting, I will take it back to the teachers for final approval. Below you will see an example of a testing planning sheet. As you can see, it’s pretty basic and simple. We are all about keeping things simple! :)
4. Map out the Unit on a Calendar Teachers decided how many days they are going to spend on each standard or skill and map it out on the unit calendar. During this process, they are mapping out the main content they are teaching each day. They are essentially creating their daily objectives. These days are flexible and can be tweaked based on student needs.
5. Design the Lesson Now that teachers have their units mapped out on the calendar, they will begin the lesson planning process. The teachers will most likely not be able to write out all the lessons for the entire 6 weeks. However, they will have their unit plan calendar filled out, which again is basically their objectives for each day. This will make the actual lesson planning go much faster. Our general goal is for teachers to have at least the first week or two of the 6 weeks planned out.
6. Follow-Up - Weekly Check-Ins I check in with teachers each week to see how things are going and what support they are needing. - Coaching as needed in the fall. - Coaching cycles with each teacher in the spring
7. Other Important Information At the end of the year, we will have all the grade-level math units and tests planned out for the entire year. The following year we will tweak the units and tests as needed, but we will have most of the work already completed.
Unit planning has been such a positive experience. We are also very fortunate that all of our school leadership has been supportive of this process from the beginning. Our teachers have worked so hard during this process and we are seeing positive results from it. I hope at the very least this information can at least springboard some ideas on how you can work in content planning for your teachers.