Sunday, April 7, 2013

How do you plan your units?

Given our school has started the Common Core with our freshmen in Algebra I, I am writing new curriculum this year.  I have the Accelerated class and a college prep class, so it is really two different preps.  I can use some of the same activities but the speed and difficulty and therefore, the exams are different.

Anyways, this is how I sit down and get ready for a new unit.  Our school has 5 periods a day on a seven day rotation.  So, we see the students 5 times out of 7 days.  I start with the school calendar and make my unit calendar.  I try to make sure I am not testing the day before or after vacation.  I try to make sure I am not testing after I haven't seen them over a long weekend plus a school day.  However, sometimes it has to be done, but it isn't ideal.  I create my calendar by breaking the unit in half, teaching and practicing, then having a quiz review and a quiz, repeat.  Then, a test review day or maybe two days and a test.  Next, I determine what I will assign for homework.  We have a new book, so I do all of the problems I am assigning so I can see what each questions is asking and to see if the assignment is too long or too challenging.  Then, I start looking on the internet and twitter and blogs for fun activities or projects or graphic organizers to help me present the lessons.  Next, I make the individual lessons.  I usually use a powerpoint to shine on the board but I still write on the board.  I like that my writing stays on the board for a while rather than disappearing with the next slide.  Sometimes, I create my own powerpoint, sometimes I find and alter a powerpoint.  There are some great ones out there.  I need to make sure I give enough examples - I do, we do, they do idea.  I like to start with Do Nows that might review a previous idea or something they haven't done before but can try it because it will lead into that day's lesson.  Sometimes, I like to start with a discovery activity rather than just telling them the rule.  All of this depends on the content and how much we need to get through.  I try to anticipate where the students will make mistakes or what kinds of questions they will have.  Once the lessons are ready, then I make the exams.  I used to do the UbD - Understanding by Design, working backwards and starting with the assessment.  I really liked doing this but due to time, I need to have the first lesson before I have the last test, so I have fallen behind on this idea.  Plus, I like figuring out what I am going to assign and the important concepts I want to stress with the students, then make the assessment so it touches on a lot of these points. 

How do you prepare a new unit?

Next year, I get to write the new Algebra II common core curriculum!  Bring it! 

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