Lately, I’ve been planning a lot of Writing Units of Study.
Yes, the teachers I work with plan their own Units of Study!
It’s hard work, especially the first few units, and it’s natural to wonder why you would even plan your own Units of Study when there are so amazing resources available.
After a long year of trying to help teachers use these resources, (with minimal planning on their own) I am more convinced than ever that teachers need to plan their own studies. (I do believe that resources can help, but only after a teacher has done some planning herself.)
The work of planning a unit leads to a better understanding of the unit, which leads to more engaged and effective teaching, which of course leads to more engaged students.
In my book, Self-Directed Writers, I make the argument that it’s not just students who need to become more self-directed, but teachers as well.
In the next few months, I will share some tips that will hopefully make the planning that you do more effective.
Today’s tip is this: For every unit you should only have a few goals and those goals should be unique to the unit you are planning.
Coming up with the goals for your unit is the first step in planning. Doing this focuses your teaching and essentially gives you the road map for where you want to go in the unit.
Just recently, I was planning with a group of Kindergarten teachers. One of the goals they came up with for their ‘How To study’ was that students would learn to revise to make their piece better.
I hesitated as they said that goal.
Yes, I knew that they would address that in their Unit of Study, but I also knew they would address that in every Unit of Study for the rest of the year.
Their next goal was that the pictures would match their words. I hesitated again. Yes, they would probably address that too, but once again that was a goal that was not unique to their ‘How To’ study.
As they went through their long list of goals, I was worried knowing that a long list of goals that were not specific to the unit usually did not lead to more focused teaching.
My suggestion to them was this: Your goals for the ‘How To’ study should only be the goals that related to the how to.
They certainly could create another list of goals that were ongoing for the year.
Once they took the ongoing goals out of their ‘How To’ unit it shortened their list of goals and made their plan feel less scattered, which of course will make their teaching less scattered.
What do you think? How does planning your own Writing Units of Study make you a more self-directed teacher? I would love to hear from you.
Until next time,