As I approach teaching, I believe effecting planning keeps all other parts in order. The lesson planning aspect is the culmination of many pieces coming together into organized structures which are to be implemented with flexibility to change throughout the day, month, as well as year as your students react and respond to them. When I lesson plan I take various steps and consider various factors throughout the process.


Factors to Consider:
The factors I consider involve state as well as national standards, goals for my students as determined by me, other paraprofessionals as well as the school, and knowledge about my students I should consider. I try to look across standards from reputable organizations in the subject field as well as standards put out by the larger systems of government in which I am working. Whether I am in Virginia and following the Virginia SOLs, in Arizona following the Common Core, or in another state or even country, I need to consider and base my pedagogy off of those standards. Then if there are county, region, and district regulations, I try have those on hand to consider as I plan each lesson. I will be familiar with school policies to make sure I am in accordance with each system I am working within as a general educator. I consider suggestions from other paraprofessionals especially in regards to students with 504 plans or IEPs to best meet the requirements for those students. Additionally, I consider home dynamics of students in hopes to build consistencies and relationships with students' home environments to compromise and match those other systems my students live in. I take initiative to get to know my students in various ways both formally as well as informally to keep that information in mind when I need to create various lessons in various topics. If there are ways I can bring in different types of learning or the favorite current game of the class into what I am teaching, I will.

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Process:
My process varies and depends on what I am going to teach as well as what age group. With the younger grades, teaching in patterns and building habits of learning as well as practice of that knowledge is important. For older grades, exposing students to multiple ways and ideas about topics are beneficial for them to gain deeper practice as well as understanding of academic topics. Overall building connections to previous knowledge, previous lessons, previous years, and thinking towards the future is central to any lesson planning for any topic or grade. I think about where students are coming from, in terms of prior knowledge they may or may not have and then consider where they should likely end up after the lesson(s). The introduction to each topic is usually exploratory so I can gauge how much exposure students have or do not have about a topic.

Next, I consider how I can make the teaching authentic and relatable by using various methods or sources. I may think of ideas initially then do some research to see what ideas other practitioners have tried to see what may work and what may not. All the while, I keep my unique group of students in mind.

Then I consider how to bring in differentiation and accommodations for my students. Will I need to create multiple worksheets? Will I need to group homogenously or heterogeneously? What type of extension activity is appropriate for this group? How long will this take for this group? I need to consider a lot of logistical questions to make the most of my time and best reach the students. I will start with an outlined time for each component of the lesson with topics, questions, and activities mapped out, though also having back up plans in case the lesson does not go as planned (i.e. ends quickly, seems to difficult for the students to grasp, or any other implementation problem a teacher may run into while teaching).

I think about key points I need students to learn from that portion or lesson and make that central to the entire structure while I finalize all of the logistics of the lesson. The more connections I can make, the better the students will understand why this is important to learn, how to use this knowledge in different situations, and remember what they are learning at a greater rate.

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For each subject I have different approaches as well:

When I approach a lesson in Language Arts I consider the bigger picture goals and skills students need to learn according to standards to incorporate as much practice with speaking, reading, writing, and understanding how to manipulate the English language as much as possible. For example in one of my reading units dealing with inferring, I tried to tie in ideas from the science unit about solving mysteries into the lessons for students to have information and skills to relate to when they were completing the various activities. I tried to tie in visual, structural, and auditory learning approaches and left flexibility to add in other ways to present the instruction or content knowledge when the students seemed lost. I then related the mini reading group lessons to the overarching themes of "inference" and "solving problems" while reading according to ability level. I saw that this attempt to interrelate my lessons was effective and paid off when assessing student thinking and application of the lesson afterwards.
Another example of my planning in English Language Arts consists of teaching engaging topical units such as "Going Places" with interactive stations or activities I used while teaching in Malaysia, related to the universal curriculum used in country.

For mathematics, I try to have students get practice with the methods to build their skill sets, especially in the foundational math. I use various approaches and instructional methods to give students a more in depth understanding of the mathematical topic. I also try to incorporate an introductory component that is more hands-on, exploratory, or informative of their knowledge for me as their teacher which then shapes the rest of the lesson and the unit as well. When teaching higher level thinking skills in addition and subtraction , I incorporated several components addressing several learning styles to meet students on their level, stretch those who were ready, and gauge were the class fell on the spectrum of mastery for those concepts. I considered the demographics of my classroom, various activities they may be able to practice at home (without materials such as the kinesthetic exercise), and made it culturally responsive for their age group, vocabulary level, as well as potential language variances by including diverse vocabulary terms that mean add such as raise, greater than, expand, grow as opposed to shrink, reduce, lower, or fewer for meaning subtract or take away.

For science, I understand the multi-layer goals of the school and standards as well as what my students need to be practicing in order to master skills in other academic areas. For a Matter unit I kept the end assessment and science fair school regulations in mind when creating the activities and lessons. I also continuously looked at the essentials skills and knowledge that the Virginia SOLs required the students to have in order to develop the vocabulary, activities, experiments, and practice worksheets for the unit. In other instances I might include various media to present the information for a multidisciplinary lesson on Benjamin Franklin. While in Malaysia I taught an environmental unit combining the local Ministry of Education curriculum as well as creative projects for students resulting in an English camp beach clean up project.

Additionally for social studies, making it multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary helps make connections between what they are learning, have learned, and will be learning for the students. Other lessons on Famous Americans that I created, tied in other subjects and presented authentic materials, simulations, or mediums to present the information. Finally I try to create a comprehensive and cumulative piece such as a timeline for students to put the history or other social studies topic into perspective.
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