Digital lesson planning: A deeper dive, part two

In true Pandemic educator fashion, I overpromised and underdelivered in terms of this series. Like I’ve said before, all of us are building the plane while in the air, and sometimes that means that blogposts we swear we’d write end up taking a few weeks longer to actually hit the blog. No matter, this three part follow up series is now being condensed into two. This way, you have all of the information you need to run and plan engaging, curated lessons.

If you’re coming to this post and haven’t read the first few posts, be sure to start with the next few links. They’ll provide you with the lesson planning template we’re working through, as well as some guidance on how to get started:

Lesson Plan Template || Stop Reinventing the Wheel || Deeper Dive Part One

So – to catch up – we’re working through the following five steps for digital resource curation:

  1. Identify what you want them to learn
  2. Scour the internet and categorize your resources (Curate!)
  3. Create any resources needed to fill the gaps
  4. Create two choice boards
  5. Pull it all together in one student facing file

We’ve already discussed the first two, and today, we’ll talk about the final three. Let’s jump in.

Create any resources needed to fill the gaps. Okay, so you’ve traversed the internet and categorized your resources based on type and objective. Now we can easily identify where you should invest your time in creating additional resources. This might mean recording a few videos of you teaching concepts, developing a Google Form quiz to check for understanding, or creating a graphic organizer students can use to ensure they’re “getting it.” Within our lesson planning template, we’ve divided these into four categories:

  1. Resources that teach concepts: This includes recording videos of your teaching, screenrecording yourself using a tool (although many of these do exist on YouTube), developing a hands-on activity, etc.
  2. Resources that organize learning: Here you’ll list any graphic organizers you need to create. This could include pre-learning activities (like KWL charts), questions students should use to guide their exploration, or things like preset Cornell Notes sheets.
  3. Resources that facilitate interaction: These are tools that you will most definitely need to build. Even though students are apart, learning is profoundly social, and it’s really important to build in opportunities for connection. This might be creating a discussion board topic on an existing LMS, using Padlet to allow students to contribute their ideas, or creating a Flipgrid topic to allow students to share.
  4. Resources that check for understanding: What quizzes, questions, or practice opportunities do you need to create to empower students to check in with their learning? I love using Google Forms because students are familiar with them, and they’re easy to access on mobile devices as well as laptops. This might also include writing reflection questions to help students process their learning.

Create two choice boards. Okay, here’s the deal. You don’t need every student to do the exact same work. In fact, the reality is that during this time, not every student has the same ability to do the same work. Operating your digital learning space through a lens of choice gives students the ability to learn at their own pace, adapt their learning to do work that fits within their current situation (unplugged if they’re sharing a computer, choosing less time intensive products if they’re needing to watch siblings or care for family members), and the chance to do work that is interesting to them! In this step, we’re going to create two choice boards:

  1. Learning process choice board: Using the planning document you’ve already been working in, pull and link all resources sorted by type and objective. You’ll also need to provide instructions – how many resources should students explore at a minimum? Do you want them to complete a graphic organizer as they work? You can use this simple student-facing template here.
  2. Product choice board: Develop a list of choices of ways that students can show their learning/mastery of the objectives. You should provide at least two choices, but more is always better! You’ll want to develop a standardized rubric that can be applied to all of the choices and include that as well. A fairly robust board template I use is linked here, and you can find the accompanying rubric at this link.

Pull it all together in one student-facing Google Doc. Okay – we’ve done a lot of work! Now, we need to put it into a format that easily communicates what students need to complete and how they will turn in their assignments. You can use the template linked here to make sure you have all your bases covered. I’ve also utilized Google Slides, which are really helpful for ensuring your students are working through all of the activities you’ve had planned. A sample version of students slides that implements the choice board is linked here.

Perhaps this is our only foray into distance learning, or maybe we’ll be doing some form of it in the Fall. Regardless, lessons learned in curating existing resources can help us to protect our time as teachers, while also meeting more students’ needs through differentiation.

Published by Jen

A political science major turned computer science teacher, I am passionate about inspiring a love for learning through authentic, real world experiences. I blog about education: ways we can help students succeed, how to innovate within the classroom, and my own quest to never stop learning.

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