Section II: Tools for year-long planning
The Michigan Curriculum Framework and the Content Expectations provide an outline for what students are expected to learn in a year or in a course. Your school or district may also have a yearly plan that you are expected to follow. If you have not already examined these documents, you could start by using the Seeing the "Big Picture" tool or the Exploring content expectations tool to make sure you are familiar with the standards and grasp their basic patterns.
Why make a year-long plan? A year-long plan allows you to develop units and lessons with the "Big Picture" in mind. Having an overall picture of where you are heading helps you assure that the students in your class are exposed to all the subject matter that they are expected to learn. It also helps you make decisions about how much time to spend on particular concepts or skills, and it allows you to anticipate when and how you may need to re-teach some concepts or schools. Making this plan involves:
- analysis of content expectations and learning strands
- consideration of sequencing and timing
- exploring potential connections within and across content areas
Using the plan to pace your teaching may keep you from getting bogged down with a concept that continues to frustrate your students. It may seem like good teaching to focus on a skill until all students master it; however, this denies them the opportunity to be successful with new material. For instance, Julie's children who struggled with subtraction may have done quite well in geometry if they had the chance to spend some time on it.
A year-long plan can also help you to design the year so that review is built in by guaranteeing that more difficult objectives follow easier ones. Your plan could also include making content area connections by using one subject area to review material that is central to another (for example, using math measurement skills in science).
Following are three basic steps for generating a year-long plan that will guide your development of units:
Step 1: Identify broad learning goals
Step 2: Brainstorm planning ideas
Step 3: Design a year-long plan