The Over-Simplified Guide to Creating Courses, Unit Plans, & Lessons by Jean Prokott

Congratulations! You get to write your own course. What happens next? Here’s a list of ten steps that will make this whole process look a lot easier than it is:

RESEARCH

  1. What is the name of the course, and what are the state, district, school, and department objectives for the course?
  2. What is the theme of the course? (A theme is more than the course name—a theme cannot be “science” or “government”.) To get this, ask: what are two or three essential questions students will be able to answer after taking this course?
  3. In what ways has this course been taught in the past? What resources have been created, and what do you have access to?
  4. Which courses have students had before this course? Which courses will happen after? Which courses before and after have students taken in other disciplines in your school? (Maybe these can align!)

LIST & BRAINSTORM

  1. What are all of the units the course should cover? (Don’t just rely on a textbook!)
    1. What are the key objectives for each of those units?
    2. How can these units be linked so they don’t exist on their own island? (How can each lead your students to answer the “essential questions” for the course?)
  1. What should be the scope & movement of the course? (Should it be scaffolded by lessons based on skill? Should you organize the units thematically? Historically?)

INDIVIDUAL UNITS: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET TO THE END?

  1. What, exactly, would you like students to demonstrate at the end of this unit?
    1. Knowledge & skills
    2. Create and brainstorm your summative assessments—move beyond the test and assess both understanding and skill; double-check that these assessments are best to measure student learning
  1. Work backwards:
    1. Visualize those final assessments
    2. Consider the general arc of the unit—avoid redundancy, but be prepared to re-teach if necessary
    3. Scaffold the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed (e.g., to simplify, you must be able to write an “O” before you can write a “Q”)
    4. Estimate the amount of time you will need

INDIVIDUAL LESSONS: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET TO THE END OF THE DAY?

  1. What, exactly, would you like students to demonstrate at the end of the day?
    1. Knowledge & skills
    2. Create and brainstorm your formative assessments, and double-check if the formative is a scaffold to the summative that will occur at the end of the unit
    3. Review individual lessons and make sure you are using variety that addresses all learners
    4. Review individual lessons and make sure they have real-world connections for your students

FINALLY

  1. Review all materials from start to end—lesson to unit, unit to course—now that you have worked backwards. Do the lessons naturally progress? Do the units exist cohesively? Do the lessons and units all answer the course objectives in some way?

 

Learn more about Jean Prokott on our Contributors page

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