Planning a Unit - 2 of 3

"A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps." Proverbs 16:9


In my last post, I talked about how I plan my school year and brainstorm to get inspired.  Here I'm going to talk about why I plan unit by unit, as well as how I get that done. My yearly plan is basically made up of units I want to teach each month.  I have laid it out so that units in various subjects align and all feed off of each other so we all can learn more effectively. This is called cross-curricular teaching. With cross-curricular teaching you can teach multiple subjects at once, spending less time teaching by making the most of how different subjects can work together.  Once I have my yearly plan laid out it is just easier to plan unit by unit. It's also easier when it comes to planning my week.  If I have a unit planned, I know what we did last and what we plan on doing next, without having to think too much about the day by day. 
The next reason I plan unit by unit is because it tends to give students a deeper understanding of the subject. It starts them off by assessing what they already know or introducing the topic, then has a series of lessons or activities that build on each other and finishes with a way for the student to communicate or apply what they have learned. 

How I plan is first, I pick a subject from my yearly plan that I am excited to start teaching and start a unit plan.  I usually break up a unit into 5 to 7 sections. Each unit has a beginning, ending, and a few lessons or activities lined out along the way. The beginning can be a diagnostic assessment, to see what your child already knows, or it can be an introductory lesson; a really basic and fun way to start everyone thinking about the subject. 

After that, I pick an interesting way to finish the unit.  Yes, I start at the end. I look through my brainstorming notes or find a fun way for my children to apply what they have learned over the unit.  This could be a test, but more likely a presentation or a project. (When in doubt, assign a brochure.)

If I know where I am starting and I know where I want to end up, it is easy to figure out how to get where I'm going.  So next, I'll list out all the things I need to teach to get my kids to the end. I try to find at least one memorable or fun lesson to stick in the middle that will help my child connect with the subject.  Maybe it is an engaging Youtube video. It could be a game. Many times it is a link to visual art or music.  Letting kids 'do things' to learn will help them retain much more than just listening or reading. Make sure reading is part of their learning, just not the only part. 


Teaching this way has been very effective for me in the past.  It helps students retain what they have learned, as well as have concrete evidence showing how much they have learned through a test or project.  I encourage everyone teaching their own children or students, to break their year up into units and not lessons and reap the rewards. 


Graphics by Kaitlyn's Creations