Some teachers dive right in over the summer and plan their whole year out! I have never been that kind of teacher. Not only do I not have the patience, I am simply not organized enough to get everything laid out in advance. I find it especially difficult to get long range plans together before I have met my students.
I have tried doing a spreadsheet with a few words in each box to outline what will be happening and have each cell represent a 1 or 2 week block (pictured above), I have tried doing all of the different strands on their own page with the whole year laid out, I have even printed the curriculum document for each strand I teach and cut each expectation out and then paired them with similar expectations (i.e., in Grade 2 Science the students look at the changes of states between solids, liquids and gases, this could be paired with measuring temperature in the Math Measurement Strand, and even volume). Then I tape them all down in groups and go from there.
Last year I went with a template that gives a full 2 page spread with a row of cells for each week. At the beginning of the year, I planned out general ideas for each month/week (i.e., I would focus on data management – graphing for the first 2 weeks, picking a just right book, and writing a retell to be connected to the Social Studies curriculum of Celebrations). Each page started out very general. As the year went on, I could use each page as more of a detailed planning spot where I would go in and “beef up” the plans for that week. Adding in the specifics of what I was going to be doing. I found this was excellent, as it acted as a long range plan and my general daybook. In many cases I would even write in the strands that we had accomplished as we finished them up for my own records.
Handing in my long range plans was difficult, as they were very thin to start. I sat down with my principal and walked him through my plan. I had taught Grade 2 before so I was pretty familiar with where the curriculum would fit together, and I had worked with my grade partner to pair up on some things and make sure we were not overlapping on others (i.e., we didn’t want to both be working on certain strands at the same time as we shared resources, but others we would want to do at the same time to bring our classes together, etc.). My plans were not overly detailed, but they had genera ideas for when I would be working on different strands, etc.. I explained to him that they are not really, “done” yet. He demanded that I finish them and submit them. It took some explaining, but in the end, I was able to create my plans the way I wanted and share them digitally through Google Drive. This way, he could pop in at any time and see where my class was headed and it was always up to date.
Not only did this format work exceptionally well for me, my principal was quite pleased in the end because my plans were the only accurate ones he had by May! We change where we are going with our teaching all the time, it is just what happens in a classroom! You get an email from a local theater company that they are putting on a show in January that would fit perfectly with something you were going to teach in May: you change your plans to accommodate. You find out that they materials you needed for your awesome unit are booked up for the month you were planning to teach it: you change your plans to accommodate. Long Range Plans are as much a living document as any other document we work with! Let it be organic and know that there will be times where you planned to work on something for 2 weeks and at the end of 2 weeks, they still don’t get it! Accommodate and move forward!
Below are some pictures of the plans I submitted last year to my principal as they looked at the end of the year – they were changed A LOT between September and the end of the year! If a box was left empty, it was because I would be continuing what we had started the week before.
At the beginning of the year, the page for these weeks might have said: Days, punctuation, predicting/retell, writing routines, read numbers and locate on number line, and 2D geometry. When I got to that week, I beefed those weeks up a bit, elaborating on what I was going to do each specific week to build on the concepts, etc.