Thursday, July 18, 2013

Library Lesson Plans Begin Anew

It's that time of year again:  the library lesson planning has begun anew, and I am knee deep in plotting our path through the upcoming school year.  A lot of the planning is already done from the last two years -- two years already! -- but there are tweaks and improvements that I want to make before school begins next month.

For example, I've decided to put all of my planning into four individual notebooks, divided by nine weeks sessions.

Each notebook will contain all the lesson plans for the nine weeks grading period, and be segmented by grade level work:  Pre-K through 1st grade have one section; 2nd and 3rd grade have another; and then 4th, 5th and 6th grade together have the last segment.  In this way, I can plan story times for the little ones, beginning activities for the middle learners, and more difficult skills development and use activities for the older ones.

The first three weeks will still follow the basic outline that I worked with from last year.  But I'm debating tweaking it, potentially, with some new books and new perspectives.

A new book I am considering:  Kevin Henkes wonderful Chrysanthemum, for its lessons on manners, respect for others and the impact of bullying.  The story may end up coming later in the year, but it is such an adorable way to get an important discussion going.  Am trying to figure out how to work it in at the beginning instead of waiting until later.  We'll see.

Last year, near the beginning of the year, I did a lesson on taking care of your books by talking with the kids about why animals should not check out library books.  It was a fun way to talk about what to do -- and what NOT to do -- with your books from the library:  no drinks, no tearing pages, no leaving it open to crack the spine, etc., but told from the perspective of porcupines, dogs, cats, and messy rhinos.

The little kids especially loved it, and spent weeks afterward telling me stories about animals that they kept away from their books.  It was too cute, and it helped get my point across in a giggly way.  We don't have much of a budget for our little library, so taking good care of our books is really important.

I had each child do a drawing for me on a handout I threw together that had space for a drawing and an explanation of why certain animals should not be allowed to check out books.  They ended up being universally hilarious:  skunks made the books smelly, snakes crushed them in their coils, bears hibernated on them and got them dirty, etc., and the kids enjoyed laughing at each other's silly ideas while reinforcing how books should and should not be treated.

We will definitely be doing that unit again this year!

As I work through each lesson plan, I will try to post them on the blog for others to use and bounce around.  My last chemo treatment will be next Wednesday, so my plan is to spend my down days following treatment working through lesson plans to the extent I can get any work done around a need to nap.

One thing I did last year in my planning that I found invaluable was this:  I put together a blank lesson plan form, using a pre-loaded form from Microsoft Word as my baseline.  (I know!  Microsoft Word has lesson plan forms in its form bank -- yay!  And you can revamp and customize them to your needs, which is really helpful.)  On it, I can list the plan, books I'll be using for story time or passages to illustrate a particular point, handouts needed, and can also list curriculum or common core requirements that the individual lesson plan teaches.  After each of these lesson plan pages, I put a plastic sheet protector sleeve, and filled it with handouts that would need to be copied for the classes and/or coloring sheets themed for the time of year or the lesson.

This is how I put together my lesson plan book for the end of last school year, so the people subbing for me (once I had my breast cancer surgery and then my chemo started) would not have to scramble around to find what they needed in my file cabinet plastic bins.  The few days I got back into the library to see the kids between surgery recovery and the start of chemo, my life was so, so, SO much easier having everything all in one place.

So much so that it will now be how I revamp all of my lesson plans for the year.

Being able to have everything in a week by week organized sleeve format is wonderful.  Being able to sub in and out of it with ease, just by pulling and moving things in the notebook?  That is priceless.  And everything will be right there for a substitute if I need one over the course of the next school year.  You have to love that, don't you?

I will try to post some pictures of how this is done in the next week or so.  Honestly, it was a life changing moment for me last year when I realized how much easier this was as a system.  It is a bit of work up front, but it makes the week to week teaching so much more sane.

Keep an eye on the blog for more individualized info as I put it together.  My hope is that some of my ideas will spark new ones for other folks who might share their take on them in the comments.  I have found a lot of inspiration for my teaching plans on the internet -- on some great blogs and on Pinterest.  I'd love to return the favor and spark some further ideas in everyone who reads here, and then have some of your ideas spark something new for me in turn.

Creativity and sharing are awesome, aren't they?

Blogger disclosure:  Links in this post may include links to my Amazon account.  Purchases made through these links on this blog contributes a few pennies to me, which are then used for purchases for the school library.  Thanks so much for all of your support!

(Photo of the wooden dinosaur displays in our library by Christy Hardin Smith.)

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