[OR: How I Spent My Summer Vacation...]
This summer I knew that I was going to be starting a new job in September. I have spent the past couple of years teaching in a self-contained grade 1/2 class where all of the students had IEPs with at least some curriculum modifications. I was focused on IEP goals. My new job was going to be in a ‘regular’* grade 1/2 class. I needed to figure out what teaching would look the same and what gaps I would need to fill in order to cover the whole curriculum. The following is a glimpse into the madness to my method.
*As a side note, I really dislike the term ‘regular class’, but it is widely used; some schools use the term ‘community class’.
Thirteen Steps to Easy Long Range Planning
- Pick a subject area- I started with math because it is one of my favourites and the specific expectations are pretty specific (who would have thought?!).
- Get your long range plans ready and know which strands you are going to report on in each term- I already knew loosely what big ideas/ strands I wanted to cover in each month. For K-8 math in Ontario it is expected you will report on 4 of the 5 strands in each term. Some school boards dictate what you will report on, mine does not. I decided on Term 1: Number Sense, Data Management and Probability, Measurement and Geometry. In Term 2 I will also report on Patterning and Algebra, but not Data Management.
- Set up a calendar system- I labeled pieces of paper with the months Sept-June and laid them out on the floor. Because I am teaching a split class I also made two columns and labelled them Grade 1 and Grade 2.
- Print the curriculum for the grade- I printed all of the math curriculum for grades 1 and 2. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/subjects.html
- Colour code- I used crayons because it was quick and cheap (no colour ink). I shaded each strand a different colour. Number Sense white, Measurement pink etc.
- Cut apart the specific expectations- If you are comfortable with the curriculum then you may want to keep some pieces together. For example, I knew that I was going to teach the patterning expectations together so I didn’t need to cut them apart. If you teach more than one grade then you will want to be careful the pieces separate.
- Start lining up specific expectations with your long range plans- I started with September. I knew that I wanted to focus on reviewing some basic number sense (counting, number recognition etc.) and that the calendar routine would be a big part of the first weeks of school. I found the expectations that fell under these two categories in the grade one curriculum and then matched up the corresponding grade two curriculum directly beside it. This was also a good chance to review the similarities and differences. I moved through the first term and paused.
- Double check the term- Does everything make sense? Are there are any other expectations that could go together? Do I have enough material to report on? At this point I found that I still had a lot of expectations left to cover in term 2. Too many? I decided to write the number of weeks available in each month. I needed to be realistic. The first week of school was about routines and relationships so I didn’t count it. The last two weeks of June are full of interruptions and happen after reports are due to the office so I didn’t count them either.
- Fill in the second term- I went back to my long range plans and filled in the rest.
- Double check again- Again I checked to make sure it was realistic. I knew that addition and subtraction strategies would take a serious chunk of time, but we will probably breeze through 2D shapes. I also checked to make sure the grade 1 and 2 expectations lined up. There are a couple of times that the grade 2s will be working on expectations that the grade 1s don’t even touch on (e.g., multiplication and division), I needed to think about how that time will best be spent with the grade 1s.
- Glue the pieces down- I actually used tape so I can keep moving them.
- Remember that plans change- I did all of this before I even met my class. We may need more time for some expectations and less for others. I do know that the year will fly by so I need to be aware of the time line.
- Keep the overall expectations/ big picture in mind- I got into the really nitty gritty because it made sense for me. I’m not going to lose sleep if we don’t get to every single specific expectation, but I do know exactly which ones I am willing to gloss over and which ones I will slow down for if necessary.