Saturday, September 24, 2011

Teacher Notes

Once upon a time, the thought of creating a huge lesson plan replete with extensive teacher notes was overwhelming to me. Notes were sacrificed in favor of developing and copying actual classroom activities. What I didn't realize as a novice teacher was that a simple text editor (like TextEdit, NotePad, or Google Docs) could be the perfect tool for creating detailed teacher notes with relative ease.

The trick to great teacher notes is not to try to write them before a lesson, but to write them as the lesson unfolds. Sure, you need to have a rough outline of learning goals, activities, assessments, etc. before you run the actual lesson, but trying to write down every tiny detail beforehand is impossible and stressful.

This is where the simple text editor comes to the rescue. On the day(s) of the lesson, have the text editor open on your computer. Use it to make notes throughout the course of your day as the lesson unfolds class by class. Don't worry about fancy editing—this is a simple text document. You want to capture the rich flow of information from your classroom as it happens "live." By the end of the day, you will have a wealth of information about the lesson that you never thought possible, including questions you asked, questions students asked, materials/resources you used, things that worked well, things that need to be tweaked/changes, things to remember for next year.

Capture every moment that you can (when you can) during class and add it to the text editor. Doesn't matter if they are quick little jots… Doesn't matter if you miss a few things… Doesn't matter if they are free-form and disorganized… The point is the process. If you've thought that creating teacher notes for your lessons is an impossible task, this method will make the process much simpler and much more organic.

Save these notes from year to year, organize them as you go along, and update them as you reteach a lesson. Keep a list of which file of notes goes with which lesson in a table document. Before you know it, you will have a rich history of your personal teaching expertise (which you might someday share with the rest of the world).


Learning Goal: What are the safety expectations in science?

Science Safety Contracts

  • what should the safety rules for our science classroom be?
  • have students brainstorm their top 3 science safety rules and share
  • type shared responses on big screen
  • hand out and go over Science Safety Contracts 
  • have students take quick Science Safety Quiz 
  • have students sign class safety contract sheet
  • show "Carol" safety poster and discuss
  • collect class safety contract signature sheets
  • homework: parent signature on safety contracts

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