Lesson Plan Blues (updated)


I’ll start with the ending first. This is what we all want:


Recently on a social media page, a teacher laminated that her English department/administration expects daily lesson plans, and the form of the lesson plans is restrictive and long-form.


And while she received a lot of great advice, ultimately she felt stuck to comply. One commenter summed it up this way:

Creative_High_School_English 2

All of the conversation –most of it so dang discouraging.


This must be a sign of a diseased institutional practice, a symptom of larger issues when administrations generate busywork and micro-managing practices so openly and aggressively.

Let’s consider a small revolution: put together the best professional practices, come to an accord?

Some thoughts:

  • Hattie’s learning targets and success criteria do not have to be changed every day.
  • Lesson plans can cover a broad swath of time or unit of study
  • Evaluations and observations align with the teacher’s goals for reflecting on her practice
  • Anyone with over five years’ of experience is encouraged, allowed and asked to choose one teacher-action research/goal as her evaluation.
  • Bring back and build trust into the conversation. Once that is gone, work actively to bring it back. (Unfortunately, it cannot be repaired when the administration has a motive or agenda to harm the teacher professionally.)

Lesson plans are not inherently evil: their purpose and structure sometimes thrill the geek teacher in me. I get a rush when I create a Google doc or overview of the year. Where things fall apart are when I don’t get to share or collaborate with colleagues. But whether I am working in isolation or in a group, here are some basics that help me stay intentional and professional in my practice:


Level 1: Recall and Reproduction

Tasks at this level require recall of facts or rote application of simple procedures. The task does not require any cognitive effort beyond remembering the right response or formula. Copying, computing, defining, and recognizing are typical Level 1 tasks.

Level 2: Skills and Concepts

At this level, a student must make some decisions about his or her approach. Tasks with more than one mental step such as comparing, organizing, summarizing, predicting, and estimating are usually Level 2.

Level 3: Strategic Thinking

At this level of complexity, students must use planning and evidence, and thinking is more abstract. A task with multiple valid responses where students must justify their choices would be Level 3. Examples include solving non-routine problems, designing an experiment, or analyzing characteristics of a genre.

Level 4: Extended Thinking

Level 4 tasks require the most complex cognitive effort. Students synthesize information from multiple sources, often over an extended period of time, or transfer knowledge from one domain to solve problems in another. Designing a survey and interpreting the results, analyzing multiple texts by to extract themes, or writing an original myth in an ancient style would all be examples of Level 4.

I don’t watch HGTV or other shows that allow me to fantasize about what my home should look like, or great vacations. I fantasize about beautiful, book-filled classrooms and the perfect, collegial working environment. My dream includes supportive administration who love to geek out over great, standards-based curriculum planning as much as I do and getting students books, collaborating with other teachers in functioning PLCs, having professional and healthy skepticism on how data are used…

…ah, well.


PS: More dreams:

Oh, and this!!