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Example: Brainstorm planning ideas

Step two of creating a year-long plan involves looking closely at the topics listed in your Broad learning goals chart and considering: have you addressed all the content expectations or content strands assigned to your grade level or course?

Once you affirm that your learning goals are complete, you are ready to figure how to go from covering those topics to brainstorming planning ideas that help you and your students work with the content in meaningful ways. As you look over your Broad learning goals chart, jot down some ideas in response to the questions below.

Brainstorm planning ideas

3rd grade: First nine weeks

Questions to consider

How can I group the content in ways that make sense?

  • To make connections across content areas
  • To create meaningful chunks within content areas
  • To scaffold or support students in constructing knowledge and understanding concepts within a content area
  • To take into account the calendar year, planned field trips and special events at my school
Because of the upcoming space voyage, I will make our science topics--matter and energy and waves and vibrations--an organizer for our curriculum during the early fall months. Sometimes these concepts seem very abstract for third graders, so I want to develop a thematic organizer to help them think about them more concretely.
What are some possible ways to organize most of the instruction for the grading period around one or two thematic units? I think the children would enjoy exploring the theme of Space Exploration. This would provide a context for learning about our science content and connect it to our lives. I can see how we could work in graphing in math to keep track of NASA activities, and our literacy word study and book selections could focus on space exploration. In social studies, we could look into how the government decided to create NASA and what their current policies on space exploration are. I also would like to see the children take a stand on what the government is doing, so we could build in some public speaking.
In what parts of my plan can I allow enough time for especially difficult concepts by grouping them with easier concepts or by allowing extra time? If we build in learning about graphs in the early weeks and then use graphs to think about the progress of the astronauts, I think the children will get the idea that graphs help us make sense of our world. I also need to make sure we build enough prior knowledge to use the non-fiction texts about space.
How can my organization of the expectations/content strands build review into your teaching? By repeatedly returning to graphing across the unit, we will have opportunities to review and revisit central concepts. Our word work can become cumulative so that we build up a rich store of scientific terms by the end of the unit.
What else do I need to keep in mind as I move forward with my planning? There are some content standards that do not lend themselves as well to this unit (e.g., the Bill of Rights) so I will also need to find other ways to work with this content.