Planning my First Unit

What does planning look like for a teacher? As a student this was something I was always aware that teachers did this. I mean they had a planning hour, right? It had never occurred to me how much hard work actually goes into planning a unit. During the last couple of weeks Kelsie and I have been working on our plans for our introductory unit on geometry for our 7th graders and I am beginning to understand what my teachers were doing behind the scenes.

We started by looking over the note pages that our students will be using. The first thing we noticed was the tremendous amount of vocabulary that is contained in the chapter. I counted yesterday and there are 49 vocabulary words! Seeing that we wondered if having the vocabulary spread throughout the notes would be beneficial or if it would be better to create some form of a separate vocab packet. We tossed around various ideas. Should we just do a separate packet in a table format, a Frayer model packet, keep it like it is, or look at various foldables with different components? Our goal in the end was to have a compact “packet” that could hold all the vocab well and also allow it to be helpful for studying if our students choose to use it for that (hopefully they do!). With that we decided upon a foldable that allows for the word and a picture on one side and the definition and a non-example picture (for words it applies to) on the other side of a page. I will post an update later on how these seemed to work, but I’m excited about the possibilities, as this is also something our CT hasn’t tried before.

As for the planning for the actual teaching of the lesson the planning hasn’t been as difficult as I think it could have be. We are using the same note pages that our CT would normally use. They do have their problems and we decided where adjustments could be made. These have been extremely helpful tools as it already lays out how we will work through the lesson and it keeps a level of consistency for our students as we start out teaching. By having this already planned out I have been able to focus more on finding real world examples and trying to look at the conceptual understanding of the topics we will be teaching. As I work through this I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what my lessons will look like. The next step will be to get this down on paper.

I have also spent some time looking into some accompanying activities and resources. Finding these has been much harder than I thought it would be. A lot of what I seem to find doesn’t seem like it’s worth the time to do. I have looked at a couple of Geogebra activities that I think might be worthwhile but I still need to look more into those. I am hopeful that I will be able to try out an angle game (designed by a classmate last semester), where teams compete against each other by finding different kinds of angles on a “game board” set up on the floor with painter’s tape. I hope that is able to pan out and I can share it later in this unit.

So where does all this planning leave me? I feel much more confidant about teaching it (especially skew lines after I learned about that today). I would still like to work on developing some sort of exit pass/self-reflection piece with Kelsie that we can use after each day so we can try to understand where our students are at. I am excited to start teaching on Thursday and I look forward to sharing the highs and the lows as I encounter them.

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