All teachers need inspiration for writing the best lesson plans. Sometimes, you might not feel it. Here are some inspirations for when you are stuck on creating lesson plans.
Some days (maybe many days?) you sit down with the calendar, ready to map out a week or a month or a unit (a semester?). You get a few ideas down – web search, chapters 1-2 assigned, quick assessment, and on.
And you stop. You really don’t want to do this. Not because you’re tired (which you are) but because the idea of writing lesson plans is overwhelming. You’re burnt, you’re frustrated with the work ethic of a class, an outside force is sending a few too many emails. Whatever the reason, you’re uninspired, but still have ELA lesson plans to write.
For all those times where a cup (or pot) of coffee is not enough to get those ELA lesson plans finished, inspiration is here.
Here are ways I change my mood to finish lesson plans.
Take notes old school style on the novel or short story. Remind yourself why you love literature. Explore the piece you are teaching from a student’s perspective. You may find a new lens to teach through or a piece that will need further explanation with your students. For me, this involves ample sticky notes that are color-coded. I don’t create more work for myself; I remind myself of why I’m teaching this particular piece.
Get out your highlighter set and a piece of nonfiction. Mark the arguments, transitions, sources, thesis, introduction, conclusion, difficult and new words. What pieces of those can be lesson plans? Perhaps a vocabulary study, a mapping of arguments, or evaluation of emotional arguments.
Think of physical, tangible items to introduce to a lesson plan. When I teach “The Glass Menagerie,” I bring out a delicate glass figurine similar to what Laura has. I allow students to hold it, to see what Laura sees. This always sparks great conversation and allows me to teach symbolism.
I retrieve this figurine when I write lesson plans for “The Glass Menagerie.” Sometimes holding a real item will get you thinking process to change – and to create.
Take a break. Easier said than done, right? We’re not machines. When you’re tired, you don’t think as well. Go for a walk or make a healthy snack.
Teachers cannot work 100% of the time, even if we believe we can or should. You may not be able to create because you are running on empty. Simple as that.
Get some help. What is missing from this list.. oh yes. Hop on TpT. First though-
I suggest writing out a list. Going on TpT to window shop? I’ve done it and purchased more than I needed. (I realize I’m a seller and maybe shouldn’t write that, but truly, make a list). If you are looking for nonfiction writing lesson plans, it is easy to get sucked into buying a lesson plans you don’t currently need. TpT will always be there. If you spot something awesome that isn’t on your focused list, add it to your wish list.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with writing lesson plans, buying too much will make the situation worse.
Find a few lesson plans that match your criteria, look at the sellers’ free downloads to assess if you like their styles, and buy some. You are a professional; your time is worth money. You may save yourself money by actually buying polished products.
Set a timer. I suggest 30 minutes. I did an hour once and got too involved in another project.
Play around on Pinterest. Hop on a teacher’s forum. Google images of what you are teaching. When the timer goes off – head back to lesson planning.
I did this the other day. I am working on an Animal Farm unit. I went to my favorite stock image site and searched for farm animals. I can’t explain why, but this inspired me. Looking at the details of pig faces, the innocence of sheep – I wanted to outline and create. Then I found a pretty horse with a white mane. Mollie!
It may seem silly, but it helped.
Hopefully one of these ideas will resonate and dig you out of your ELA lesson plans rut. Without organization, a teacher won’t be on track to meet a district’s goals or personal objectives. Sometimes though… all of ‘it’ gets to teachers. A little perspective, a little inspiration is needed. I hope this helps.
Do you have any tips to add? How do you find inspiration when creating lesson plans?