What follows is a more detailed explanation of the semester plan assignment.

Planning: Here's advice validated by lots of experienced teachers:

Start at the end. No matter what you are planning--semester, unit, assignment, activity--start at the end. How will you know that students have learned? How will you know that they have accomplished the goals / objectives you have established? What will they submit to you as evidence of their learning?

Once you determine, as specifically as possible, how you will know that students have learned, you can begin to plan the activities and assignments that will help them achieve those outcomes. Once you know the outcomes you desire, you can design sequences, integrate activities, plan opportunities for feedback and reflection, and consider ways you will manage the sequence, on a daily basis.

Unit Plan Summaries (related to final Semester Plan in Portfolio #3)

The assignment says that the final semester plan will include
Unit Plan Summaries for all units included in the semester plan. These units will each include several assignments with sequenced activities that build to support the unit and essential questions.

We have established no set number of "units" that are required for the semester plan. However, in conversations with groups, we all agreed that one or two "units" would not be pedagogically effective for an 18 week semester. Three seems to me to be the minimum, and when I think of elementary / EC-4 classes, I think even three units of 6 weeks each are not quite enough. But it will be up to each group to justify its plans, so I won't impose a set number.

But what does the assignment mean by "Unit Plan Summaries" for all units? What is a "complete" UP Summary and what isn't?

For sure, the one unit from which your 20 hours of minute-by-minute plans will be taken will be complete, and by "complete" I am referring to all the information needed to fill out the Intel Teach to Learn "Unit Plan Template" (Module 1.08-1.09, and available on the Intel CD).

As for the rest of the Unit Plan Summaries, I expect that they will be in various stages of "completion," (if a teacher's plans are ever 'complete'!). So in terms of the Intel Template, I'd expect all Unit Plan Summaries to include at least the following information:

  • Unit Plan Title
  • Curriculum-Framing Questions
  • Unit Summary
  • Subject area and grade level
  • TEKS and Student Objectives / Learning Outcomes
  • A brief overview of the assignments and activities that students will engage
  • Some idea of the reading materials they'll use
  • And an overview of assessment processes

The extent to which these are more or less fully developed will vary, I imagine. Some units will be more detailed, some won't. And perhaps all units won't even provide all the information I list above; but some units will provide more than the minimum. So overall, the semester plan you submit will be a legitimate work in progress, with enough information provided for me and others to determine the amount of effort and thought you have invested in the whole process and product.

What does the assignment mean by "minute-by-minute plans for 10 hours of instruction"?

As a reader, I want to know what you will be doing and how you will be doing it for each class period.

  • For example, if you say you will be reading aloud to students for 20 minutes, what kinds of things will you expect students to do while you are reading. Yes, you want them to listen, but what else? Listen how, for what, be able to do what when you are finished? And as you read, what are you emphasizing at that time? Why did you choose the reading? What will you do as you read? After you read?
  • If you say you will do some writing, describe exactly what you and your students will be doing during the period. What will you be watching for? How will you prompt or encourage writers?

In other words, for those 10 hours, a reader of your plans will have a very solid sense of what you are doing, how, and why. A reader will recognize that you are a trained professional who is familiar with the TEKS and with current approaches to teacher (and that you have read and understood our materials for this class this semester!).

Key Concepts:

Semester

For our purposes, the semester is 18 weeks long. Depending on your proposal, you will plan for a specific grade level and specific subject area(s). A semester plan will be driven by one or more "essential questions." In other words, it will have an intentional overarching unity or coherence. Your semester plan will be divided into several integrated thematic units.

Integrated Thematic Units

A unit covers one or more weeks of a semester. It is "integrated" (a) because it involves students in learning more than one subject area, (b) because it connects with the units before and after, and (c) because it connects to the overarching "essential questions" that are informing your semester plan. It is "thematic" because it addresses its own question(s), which are subsets of the larger questions informing the semester plan. A unit is typically divided into several assignments (or one or more projects).

Assignments (sequenced)

An assignment ask learners to engage in a sequence of activities to produce a product or performance. For example, I have asked you all to produce a teaching philosophy, which is one assignment within a larger "unit" that might be called the semester plan. To complete the assignment, you have to read and use your reading as you do pre-writing, draft, share with classmates, respond to classmates, revise your drafts, share more, respond more, edit, proofread, and publish. In a typical unit, you will have a sequence of assignments that fulfill the objectives of the unit. You may have a writing assignment, a research assignment, several reading assignments, a social studies assignment, etc. Assignments are usually divided into (completed through) a sequence of activities.

Activities

We ask learners to engage in activities that will introduce them to or help them practice using a skill or some knowledge. Read a chapter and respond in writing to a prompt. Work with a group to compile a list of questions. Locate and document three sources to support your argument. Draw a picture of your story. Describe your picture with a list of nouns and verbs. The list could go on, as you might guess. Teachers typically build their daily class plans around activities.

Class Plans

For purposes of our class, and ideally for you as a new teacher, you will plan your class carefully, minute by minute, even when you aren't sure how long a particular activity will take. In other words, you will always be able to explain why you are asking students to engage in a particular activity, what that activity is building on, and what it is leading to. You will be sensitive to time constraints and to the challenge of organizing plans that will accommodate the needs of each of your individual students. A class plan has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You will most likely plan 2 or 3 activities, with clear connections and transitions. You will be able to explain your objectives, the ways you are assessing the learning, and the materials you need / will use.

Goals, objectives, outcomes

The primary source of goals and objectives for your "teaching" will be the State of Texas, and more specifically, the TEKS. If you have access to the goals and objectives of a particular school district, you can use them, too; however, the TEKS are still the overarching curricular guidelines for all public schools.


Meaningful sequencing of activities (scaffolded learning)

Teaching of writing as process (discovery, drafting, revision, collaboration, peer review, student/teacher conferencing, editing, publishing, etc.)

Accommodations for special needs, ESL, and GT populations

Formative (in process) and summative (final) assessment. Provide examples of different assessment strategies

WAC/writing to learn/writing in a subject area appropriate to grade level

Incorporation of technology as a means to foster learning


Assignments and Evaluation