Do you ever feel that sinking feeling in your stomach as Sunday afternoon approaches? You know, the one that reminds you of all the tasks you’ve been putting off and the looming responsibilities of the week ahead? It’s as if Sunday “Fun Day” has turned into the Sunday Scaries, and you can’t seem to shake it off. It doesn’t have to be that way. Today we’re going to introduce you to a game-changing practice called batch planning that will change your teaching life for the better. Forever!
Why Batch Plan?
Imagine this! You’ve become an expert batch planner, and you actually leave school when the bell rings. You don’t even bring a teacher bag home with you because you already have your lessons done for the next month, two months, or even the whole semester!
This is all possible when you master the 4 steps of batch planning. The best part is, your scope and sequence will actually be organized and building on different concepts, your students will be mastering the standards, AND you’ll actually be fitting in everything you need to cover, even if you only have 43-minute class periods every other day! Not to mention, you will have your nights and weekends back. You can hit a yoga class, watch a movie, hang out with your family, and finally start planning that trip that you’ve been thinking about for months! Now, let’s get started.
Steps for Batch Planning
Before we dive in, please know that we don’t want to give you all four of our batch planning steps today because we don’t want to overwhelm you, but we’re going to give you two of our favorite steps! These are two tips you can start using immediately…so you can begin batch planning for this next school year and then ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER!
#1: Nail Down Your Big Units and Content Standards
First things first, take a moment to write down the big units you plan on covering in your first month or two of the year…is it a novel unit, a few short stories, a poetry unit, or a mix of literature and informational text?
Write these down.
For instance, in 8th grade, September was often when we read House on Mango Street. So, I would jot this down as my main focus for the first month or so as I start my batch planning session. My goal would be to map out this unit. Then, once you know the focus of the first unit you choose, it’s time to determine the standards you want to cover within that unit.
If you’re an EB Teachers’ Club member, use your Standards Checklist. If you’re not an EB Teachers’ Club member, go on Common Core’s website or wherever your state posts their grade level ELA standards. Print out the standards for your grade level and determine exactly which ones you’re going to cover for the first unit. Knowing which standards you’re going to focus on in the month or two you are planning for, is going to make your planning time so much more focused.
These standards are your North Star. They should be your sole focus on everything you’re going to teach. Thinking about doing an activity that you saw on Pinterest or you found on TpT? If it doesn’t align with your standards, don’t do it. This is one of the reasons why so many teachers find it difficult to fit everything into their class periods. It’s because they are trying to cover so many concepts that aren’t part of their grade-level standards. Trim the excess fat and focus on what’s necessary for your particular unit. If you’re having trouble figuring out which standards to focus on, consider covering any that have to do with finding evidence, justifying the evidence, and summarizing the text.
These concepts are covered in the reading for literature standards, reading for informational text standards, and are a key writing standard for grades 5-8! Choosing these concepts is a great way to start the year and sets a foundation for covering so many of the other standards!
So, tip #1, plan out your big units and keep them aligned with the standards!
Number 2: Structure Those Units Using the INTO, THROUGH, and BEYOND Framework
Each unit will start off with an INTO lesson, where your number one goal is to grab your students’ attention! A quality INTO lesson sets your students up for success in the upcoming unit. It’s typically one lesson that lasts no longer than two class periods. This is where you may provide important background information, introduce key vocabulary, or simply set the scene for your unit of study! The important thing is that it’s a super engaging lesson that gets student buy-in.
Then the heart of your unit will be your THROUGH lessons. Your number one goal is to provide your students with multiple opportunities to practice the standards you are covering. If you are doing a literature unit, some of your THROUGH lessons may be reading the text. Other THROUGH lessons may be analyzing the characters, finding evidence to be used in a future essay, etc.
Your unit will wrap up with a BEYOND lesson. Your main goal here is to provide students with an opportunity to apply what they have learned during the unit. A quality BEYOND lesson allows your students to demonstrate their knowledge of the standards you have covered in the unit. It typically lasts no longer than two periods.
For every unit that you plan during your batch planning time, you will follow this framework. Always start with an INTO lesson, followed by several THOUGH lessons, and then wrap it up with a BEYOND lesson. Once that unit is complete, you start with a new INTO lesson for your next unit.
Having a planning framework makes planning so much more efficient because you’re determining what kind of lesson you need, INTO, THROUGH, or BEYOND, and then plugging them in. Once you get really good at batch planning, you’ll be able to plan not just for a month or two at a time, but for the entire year in one weekend!
And no matter how far in advance you batch plan, each week you’ll just make minor tweaks to your lessons. You can walk out the door each day when the bell rings, knowing your lessons are totally done and you are prepared for class each day. And by batch planning, you are singularly focused on planning quality lessons. You aren’t planning one day, and then responding to a parent email, and then planning another lesson, and being interrupted by a student who has a question about an upcoming project. Instead, you’re in a distraction-free zone and the lessons you plan have your full attention! Imagine how much stronger those lessons will be.
Batch Planning Live
Now, if you’re super excited and want to start your school year off right, register for our Summer Batch Planning Live event. You’ll learn to batch plan like a pro so that you can finally be done with the day-to-day scramble, working long hours on Sundays, and spending countless nights during the week planning and grading. You’ll be joining 100’s of other teachers who will motivate you to be your best self! We can’t wait for you to get started.