Planning better in the new year: 4 days, 4 ideas for back to school on Monday

Remember those lesson plans you had to make in college? Pages and pages of information planned down to the minute… Then the reality of the classroom set in and you realized you had no time to make that type of a plan every single day. After 20 years, I’ll admit that if you looked in my planbook, most days you’d see something like Spanish 1- tiene que, va a salir, ya no quiere. ! I know in my head what I am doing and why but I don’t really take the time to write it down one day at a time! I am a chunk planner. I plan Understanding by Design units. I plan for weeks at a time!

Over the next 4 days, I’ll share some of the techniques I use that you could implement in your classroom whether you are a fan of Understanding by Design or not.

Day 1: Start with the assessment. You’re headed back to school in the next few days, what are you going to start with? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CI or traditional teacher, you have some sort of unit that you’re going to dive into when you return to the classroom. What is the final assessment? You may be thinking, “I haven’t even started the unit, how will I know what to assess?” This is one of the keys to GREAT assessment! If you know in advance what you’ll be assessing, you can create targeted lessons that will give your students the best chance of success at the end of the unit!

Is your assessment skill based (fill in the blank/conjugation)? Have you ever considered a performance based type of assessment? If our goal is to create speakers/lovers of language, we need to help them become comfortable developing the 4 big skills (Listening/Reading/Writing/Speaking) in real-world situations.

I’d love to hear some of your ideas on assessing that first unit back to school! In Spanish 4 we are finishing a unit on the importance of clean water. My assessment for this unit is that students will create a public service announcement for a company that provides water filtration in 3rd world countries. The winning PSA will be shown at our Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica induction ceremony at the end of the month. Students will read about the companies, listen to the other presentations and ask questions about them. They will write about their favorites, and will speak as part of the video and q&a.

What will you be doing in 2014?


  1. Girl, you gave me a flashback with the pre-service minute-by-minute plan thing!

    I really dig the water thing–very important, STEM + culture! I think you should get the winning PSAs going VIRAL though!

    Me, I think Spanish 2 will start off with either a continuation of our Ayudando Ando project OR a recruiting video for our school. I think Spanish 2 & 3 will start off researching colleges abroad.

    • Hahaha, the students who are in Ed now have way longer plans than I had to make! Poor things!

      I’m all ready to go back but it is looking sketchy with the winter storm we are expecting tomorrow/Sunday!

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