Make the Most of Your Week Lesson #2: Plan in Batches

May 20, 2013

This is the second post of Five Lessons in our Make the Most of Your Week series.

I’ve been feeling inspired lately after facilitating workshops and hearing so many creative ways teachers find to Make the Most of Their Weeks.


Lesson #2: Plan in Batches

Zack V., a third grade teacher in New Haven, CT, shares how revamping his method for HOW he plans lessons makes a huge difference in both their quality and the efficiency of his process.

The Before (aka The Old-Fashioned Way):

Zack shares, “My old lesson planning process used to take me hours a day, and was a real drain on my time.  On a daily basis, I sat down to plan one lesson at a time, from start to finish.  Or, if I was trying to get ahead by planning several lessons at once, I would start with Monday, then do Tuesday, and so on… and it took HOURS!

Let’s look at part of one of Zack’s lesson plans.

Zack’s Break-Through:

“I had a major break-through in the efficiency and quality of my plans when I began to batch process the different components of the lesson plan.  First, I realized how much faster and more effective it was to sit down and plan all the exit tickets for a week in one sitting.  This also improved quality because I could better build continuity between my daily assessments.”

The After:

“Then, I began to plan all the Do-Nows at the same time.   Not only was I more efficient when I kept my mind in “Do-Now mode,” but by planning out a week (or more!) at once, I started to build in running themes and tie ideas together across lessons.  I actually wrote an entire mini-unit on the history of the whaling industry, just through planning our daily do-nows!

My last step was to batch plan the independent practice for each day.  As a literature teacher, this meant selecting a reading passage and creating comprehension questions.  Working through 5 days’ worth of reading in one sitting, I got more into the book, better addressed themes across lessons, and again, was more efficient and mentally present.

After that, the only things left to plan were the mini-lessons, and these I would do one at a time, but with a ton more mental energy and efficiency!”

So, what does a planning week in Zack’s teacher-life look like now?

Monday: Plan exit tickets for the following week (45 minutes)

Tuesday:  Plan cumulative review for the following week (30 minutes)

Wednesday: Plan independent practice and comprehension questions for the following week (1 hour)

Thursday-Sunday: Plan mini-lessons for the following week

Awesome, Zack! Getting in the groove with one part of your lesson and can be so much more effective than the start-and-stop many of us do. Thanks for sharing your trick!

Together Teacher Discussion Question: How have you made lesson planning more efficient over time?