How Not to Cook From Scratch: Templates

templateCooking from scratch is great when you’re baking a pie or making marinara, but lesson planning from scratch is inefficient and ineffective.

When was the last time you forgot to make an important announcement in class because you got carried away by your lesson plan? Or when you forgot to remind students what the homework would be because you were busy giving instructions?

Create a template that will contain all the essential elements of your class: 5 or 6 sections, infinitely variable, and yet complete.

You can keep this template in Google Keep (like I do),  Evernote, or any other platform that is easily accessible.

This template contains space for me to write:

  • Tabs for students to open at the start of class
  • Reminder about what the homework was and a reminder to grab a “pass” if the homework isn’t complete (Students get 2 per quarter, and then it begins to affect their grade)
  • The link to my Schedule Once auto meeting-maker and my “Back Channel” for various tech or personal crises, so I can deal with them one at a time.
  • First Things Work
  • Anchor Work (what to do anytime the current task is completed)
  • Homework
  • What to do if you miss class
  • Students I need to see

I open it, paste it into the class Google Calendar, and begin to fill in the various elements from class. When students arrive to class, they:

  • Open computers
  • Check the class calendar, and get to work.
  • 7-10 minutes into class, I give a one minute warning, and we do intro discussion and “housekeeping”
  • Then, the flight plan is all ready for them to follow!

I recommend using a template like this for other common teacher tasks, as well. For example, I have a Google Keep Template for

  • The top 10 Grammatical Mistakes students make with a link to a mini lesson. I can cut and paste from Google Keep into  a comment in Googledocs.
  • The names of each student in class for fast Googledoc Sign-Up Lists
  • The 7 things I need to schedule into each week (and will forget if I don’t have them in a handy list
  • The 6 students who will likely not advocate for help; I will check in with all 6 each week.

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