How to Lesson Plan Efficiently with Mega-Batching
Welcome to the Teacher Time Saver Issue.
We all struggle with time in life and, especially, education. There is never enough of it. So how do we not only maximize our time, but expand it?
Oh, oh, I know! Mega-batching!
Mega-batching is something I learned from my online mentor, Amy Porterfield. Amy is someone who always has great business ideas to share that often relate well to education. Talk about a time saver!
What is mega-batching and how can it help save you (or any teacher) time?
Essentially, mega-batching is grouping your tasks in such a way that you do a lot of one kind of thing all at once and then don't need to touch it again for quite a while. Think batching gone wild. This system makes us more efficient with our time. Once we have mega-batched content, we gain time and control. Without the daily need to work on planning we now have more time to refine, make adjustments, individualize and be prepared for the coming week without all the stress, late nights (or long days) and last minute scrambling.
With Mega-batching I shoot for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours of work a day for each of 5 days. Then, the hard part is done. Other than making some adjustments along the way, I'm good for 6-8 weeks.
Let's dive right in to Mega-Batching and Lesson Planning.
Step 1: Overview: Pick a subject.
Decide where to start your planning. As a Catholic teacher, I would start my planning with Religion as this entwines throughout all of my lessons. For me, it's the glue. When I taught in a public school, I would begin with Language Arts as my common thread. But, you can start anywhere you like.
Plan 6 - 8 weeks of this subject all at once. Using a good scope and sequence, your district or state standards, your curriculum map (if you have one), your calendar and whatever teaching materials you have, plan what each lesson will be about in the sequence. Decide on materials needed to be gathered, materials to acquire, copies, samples you need to make (if any), stories you can tell to make it come alive, mentor texts, guest speakers, etc.... (approx. 2 hours)
Step 2: Add in the other subjects.
a. Pick your next subject. Language Arts or Social Studies would be next for me. Then, plan the same 6 -8 weeks for this subject as well. I find ways to twine them together that fit naturally, not forced. For example, I might have a 3rd grade class that is working on point of view in writing. We could easily do a bit of point of view with our social studies learning about city planning. Who wants the dump near their home? (approx. 2 hours)
b. Add in Science. Planning the same 6-8 weeks for Science, make any curriculum connections that make sense. (approx. 1-2 hours)
c. Add in Math. This is where things can get a bit tricky. Many times there are writing connections, but sometimes it just doesn't fit. Do not force connections. If the curriculum fits, great. If not, don't force it. Just get on with a logical lesson progression for the 6-8 weeks in this subject. (approx. 1-2 hours)
Step 3: Email Templates and Drafts
This is when I would plan out the parent emails about curriculum and learning for each week. Create a template for your weekly emails with this free guide. Additionally, take the time to prepare any emails scheduling or confirming volunteers, guest speakers or other educational events for the next 6-8 weeks. (approx. 1 hour)
Step 4: Materials
Create any materials you will need to go with the lessons - samples of projects, templates, anchor charts, interactive notebook pages, etc. For example, I might create an electronic template for a timeline. Students could use this as we work through a unit in social studies while adding in events from their made-up story of themselves living during this time. (approx. 2 hours)
Step 5: Review
This is the time to review everything and make sure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Make lists for all of materials- gather, acquire (purchase, beg or borrow), create or copy. Assign each list a week and place it in your planner or calendar the week before you need it. Then, schedule time that week to prep all of the supplies needed for the next week's lessons. (approx. 30 minutes)
Step 6: Celebrate
Now, you can chill on the planning for a bit as you enjoy the fruits of your labor until the next mega-batching session in 4-6 weeks.
Don't Forget: Start your batching sessions over when you have 2 weeks left of lessons planned. This way, you'll never be scrambling.
Bonus: Sub plans that keep your students on track and really learning, when needed, will be a breeze since you are already planned ahead right down to the details.