Planning language arts can be hard. There are three common mistakes that I find many people make when planning out their program.
Focus on the expectations instead of big ideas
This is one that many teachers get caught up in.
There is so much to cover it is hard not to use the expectations as a checklist.
However, when we do this we fail to focus on the big ideas of what we are actually teaching.
When you do this you are looking to pull resources from all over the place that doesn’t really feel like a complete picture. It is an organizational nightmare and will make you feel disorganized and overwhelmed.
Instead, focus on the big ideas and then pick resources that go with this. Once this is planned you can determine which expectations are covered with this material.
You plan in units
This is a big one and one I made myself. It seems logical. You plan one learning activity at a time.
But language development isn’t as linear as this so why is our instruction?
Students need time to practice their skills in language and see how they are interconnected.
When we plan in units we fail to show students how one skill is used with another skill.
Writing an adventure story is similar to writing a fairy tale or even a poem. But when we teach in self-contained units students fail to see how these are related. This often causes them to not apply learned concepts from one activity to the next. So it is like we are starting from scratch each time we start a new unit.
Using a spiralled approach to teaching language with concepts integrated together and tied to a big idea is more effective and efficient.
The person making all the decisions is you…the teacher.
Finally, the third big mistake made by teachers is not embracing choice and voice in the classroom.
The person making the choices is the one doing the most work and learning the most things.
Is that person you or your students?
It should be your students.
Students should have a say in what they are reading and writing.
Language is personal, how we use it, what we think about it, and what we say is uniquely you.
So how do we develop students’ use of language when they are simply told what to do and what to write. When we do this they passively accept what is happening and disengage in the learning.
To engage students and help them develop their ideas, opinion, and voice within our language program (while also differentiating instruction) choice is key.
So what should your language program look like?
I would love to show you. But this will take more than a quick blog post.
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