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June 22, 2012

It’s 8 PM. . . Do you know how you’ll survive seven hours tomorrow with 30 eleven-year-olds?

We have all experienced that dreaded night-before feeling. . . Back when I taught all subjects of fifth grade (this was before the days of “just Google it”), this question dominated my entire existence. I’d get through one day, and then it was on to stressing about the next.

Given the very real challenges of planning effective and engaging lessons from scratch, I want to share a resource that many teachers have found incredibly helpful—Better Lesson. I recently spoke with Alex Grodd, former teacher and founder of the site, about how Better Lesson can save teachers time.

“The best form of classroom management is a great lesson.”

Right on. You know it, I know it.

But, as mentioned before, the time to create a great lesson for every subject, every day can be a heroic feat. Particularly if you teach in an under-resourced school, a school with a less experienced teaching staff, or a school that doesn’t have high-quality commercial curriculum.

So, what to do?

Here’s what Better Lesson has done: Created a user-friendly database of high-quality, teacher-rated lessons that are searchable by grade and subject level. Take a moment to explore – in addition to lesson plans, you’ll find great handouts, unit overviews, quizzes and tests.

Better Lesson is one of my favorite teacher lesson planning websites because:

  1. It is free. This is practically a requirement in my world, though many school districts pay for premium content on Better Lesson. Including, full disclosure, my current employer, Achievement First. But we only pay for things that are worth it!
  2. It is teacher-tested. Teachers can rate and comment lessons—and even follow your favorite posters.
  3. It is super-searchable. It even has that nifty feature, “If you like this lesson. . . here are some similar ones.” I like this on my favorite shoe-shopping sites—and I like it even more here!
  4. All materials can be modified. You are not downloading a bunch of PDFs and trying to make the documents fit your students. You can actually adjust the materials.

Choose grade level and subject area

several viewing options

Step 3 Look at the great stuff

So, back to my original question: It’s 8 PM…do you know how you’ll survive seven hours tomorrow with 30 eleven-year-olds?

While I always hope you are not in this position because you’ve already mapped out when you will lesson plan, I also know you’re human. Better Lesson may help you find a baseline lesson you can tweak to make work for you and your kids.

A Summary

Step 1. Jump on Better Lesson. It’s quick and easy to register.

Step 2. Browse through your needed grade and subject, and see what’s popular. Download one (or 10!) that fit what you’re looking for.

Step 3. Set your alarm clock for a little earlier the next morning (sorry!), and use that time to modify  the lesson to meet your students’ needs and your overall scope and sequence of instruction.

Together Teacher Discussion Questions:

What other instructional planning resources have helped you save time?

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