Monday, January 7, 2013
Using Other Teacher's Lesson Plans
So right now I only teach one class a day - terrible time to find a job in a new district around here. Anyway, being the one odd man out, I try really hard to follow what the other teachers are doing. However, I find that many of these lessons are the ones that are the biggest disasters in my room.
It makes me wonder, are these lessons failing because I am not as invested in them, or are they failing because they just aren't great lessons?
Today I followed the "assigned" lesson and had the kids work on a concept map of catastrophic events. It was a pretty open-ended assignment that asked kids to organize what they already knew about catastrophic events. Let me just say - the assignment was a catastrophic event! The kids started misspelling words on our big chart on purpose or putting things up more than once because they thought it was so funny.
I was furious and called the activity in the middle of it. Instead, we veered off and had a really interesting debate about the government paying for large natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. I saw so much more learning going on during the debate.
I do appreciate the value of a concept map, but I don't think my kids are ready to just be handed a blank piece of paper - they don't understand relationships between concepts yet. I probably should have walked them through a concept map, but I didn't feel like that was the spirit of the assignment as I understood it...
Do you have this issue with lessons from other teachers? What do you do? I know that the schools around here are really pushing uniformity so that all of the classrooms are learning the same material and being assessed in the same ways. I really like to shape my classroom depending on the talents, abilities, and moods of my classes - can I do this and stay uniform?