Don’t Shoot the Pacing Plan! | For Teachers

Don’t Shoot the Pacing Plan! | For Teachers

Today I’m giving you four reasons to NOT shoot (or fight) the pacing plan: 

  1. Pacing plans give us a logical ordering of skills. If we want kids to end up at the same place at the end of the year, we have to teach sequentially through the skills they need to learn. 
  2. If we’re going to intervene for kids – provide special ed support, intervention, small groups within or outside of the classroom – we need to know where everybody’s at, and a pacing plan is the most logical way to do that. 
  3. It’s an accountability checklist! As a teacher, pacing plans help assure that I haven’t been overteaching certain things or under teaching other things. I’m on target with the skills that kids need to learn today, this week, this month. 
  4. Finally, we have to make sure that the text we’re using – informational text, narrative, text, or other types of texts, are on target, that we have a variety of the different kinds of texts spread across the school year. A pacing plan helps us do just that.

Books can be found on amazon.com or https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Don’t Shoot the Pacing Plan! | For Teachers

Two Behaviors Every Class Must Be Taught | For Teachers & Coaches

I think we’re missing the boat on teaching behaviors to kids. 

I know I know, we spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year talking about classroom management and getting kids up and running, but there’s another part of teaching behaviors that we need to add into the mix. 

Of course you need to teach classroom management, but I also want you to focus on teaching instructional management. 

So what does that look like? Well for me, that looked like teaching kids how to have a discussion, how to take notes, and what to do when they’ve finished with their work early. When we’re having a group discussion, how loud do we talk? Do we just shout out answers? 

These are the things that can derail lessons and take us off topic with our teaching, so they’re very, very crucial to teach. 

As you head into this school year, think about what you teach with classroom management, but also, what instructional techniques and management pieces you need to teach your kids so that the lessons will run smoothly?

Books can be found on amazon.com or https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Don’t Shoot the Pacing Plan! | For Teachers

Does More Time Lesson Planning = Better Lessons? | For Teachers, Coaches, & Team Leaders

I love talking about lesson planning, because I think that lessons are made and broken in the lesson planning phase. Not to mention, I think teachers are spending a lot of time in what we would traditionally call “lesson planning,” but it’s not resulting in better lessons!

So let’s clarify something that’s really helped me in my lesson planning. When I’m trying to teach any skill, whether it’s a math skill, PE (though I never taught that!), English, language arts or writing or whatever, here’s how I do it: 

  1. I take a blank sheet of paper and list the skill that I’m teaching at the very top. 
  2. Then I set my timer for about two minutes and I brainstorm every other skill kids would have to master in order to master this one skill that I want them to learn.
  3. Then, I set my little phone timer for another two minutes, and I put all the skills that I brainstormed in a logical order. The simplest skill to the most advanced.
  4. Finally, I pull out my lesson plan book and I plot those individual skills onto the weeks that I’ll teach them.

That is lesson planning at its simplest and most powerful. Give it a try!

For more help and tips on how to get the most out of your lesson planning, check out this book:

Books can be found on amazon.com or https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Don’t Shoot the Pacing Plan! | For Teachers

Balancing Informative and Narrative Text | For Teachers, Coaches, & Team Leaders

There’s a lot of talk these days about the type of text that we’re using in classes – too much narrative, not enough informational text, add more of this, take some of that away. 

Today I want to help you navigate the noise and give you something really practical that will make a big difference. 

What I’ve done with a lot of our clients is to start by looking at everything they’re currently using. 

Before adding anything, take a look at what you’re using right now and make a T-chart:

  • On one side, write all of the titles of the informational text that you’re teaching kids. 
  • On the other side, write all of the narrative texts that you’re using for the school year. 

If those two columns are not well balanced, then you need to make some adjustments. 

But then, I want you to go back to those lists and mark what kind of texts they are – is it chapter text? An article? A narrative piece? Long form? A checklist, or a recipe? 

When you look at not only what type of text you’re using, but what form it takes, that will really help you evaluate where you are and where you need to get to.

Books can be found on amazon.com or https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Don’t Shoot the Pacing Plan! | For Teachers

Process Writing is a Thing of the Past | For Teachers

Today’s blog is to encourage you to make process writing a thing of the past. 

What is process writing exactly? Process writing is when we teach kids a generic set of steps to follow when they write. First, brainstorm, then write a first draft, then edit. Next, write a second draft and finally, publish. That’s process writing in a nutshell. 

What we’ve found, however, is that process writing only impacts about one third of kids’ actual writing ability compared to strategic writing. 

And what is strategic writing? Strategic writing is how to write a specific kind of text. For example, an informational text piece, an argument or opinion, or a narrative piece. It’s very specific to the kind of writing we’re doing, and it has more than double the impact of only teaching kids process writing!

So what does this mean for you? Look at your materials and lesson plans this week and ask yourself, ‘am I just teaching kids generic steps, or am I teaching them how to write specific types of text?’ That’s our job!

Books can be found on amazon.com or https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Don’t Shoot the Pacing Plan! | For Teachers

Get Over Your Fear of Teaching Writing | For Teachers

When I was getting started in teaching, I used to feel super insecure about how to teach writing. Because of my fear, I’d even say ridiculous things to my kids, like “just write more.” Cringe! What was I thinking? Totally inefficient.

Then one day, I realized that anyone who’s a good writer – or anyone who’s good at anything, really – has a defined, taught, and practiced process.

Students need the same when we teach writing! 

It was my job to get over my fear of teaching writing by figuring out what the process for writing was.

Here are some things to think about to help you to get over your fear of teaching writing:

  1. What skills do I need to be able to teach to my kids?
  2. What are the fundamental skills that my kids need to know? And what are the skills I just wish they had? Get down to teaching the fundamental skills. 

I realized that if I could deconstruct the skill of teaching writing into little manageable chunks, I could teach it. And so can you!

For more help and tips on how to get over your fear of writing as a teacher so that you can create a love of writing in your students, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/