one year of #sbar: lesson planning

lesson planning before standards based grading:
Assign textbook reading for homework.  Plan to spend first 20 minutes of class lecturing on the assigned reading.  Plan an activity for the last 20 minutes of class that reinforces the skills that were transmitted during the lecture.  Assign and grade webassign homework for practice.

Students didn't do the reading because they knew it would be repeated during lecture.  When I stopped lecturing to check for understanding students were often very confused, perhaps because they were trying to absorb the material for the first time with no activation of prior knowledge.  This lead me to explain again, and eat up the time for the reinforcing activity.  Finally, this kind of lesson planning assumes that everyone will do the same reinforcing activity, regardless of whether they need it or not.

lesson planning during first year of standards based grading:
Assign textbook reading for homework.  Spend 10-15 minutes with each table discussing the reading with them.  The other 30-40 minutes students can choose their own reinforcing activities from a menu.  No graded homework is assigned, but webassign is one of the options for a practice activity.

Students quickly got the idea that I wasn't going to read the textbook to them during class, and were more prepared to begin digesting and assimilating the material in our small group discussions.  Students could also use the activity menu to choose the appropriate challenge level for them, whether they needed review or extension.  However, the textbook is still the only mode for content acquisition.

lesson planning for next year:
Last year students had a menu of practice activities.  I'm revising my lists of unit objectives to include two new columns: acquire and assess.   The acquire column will have a variety of ways to acquire whatever skill or content is involved in that particular objective.  Beyond the textbook, I'm thinking websites, news reports, previous student work exemplars, videos, or screencast think-alouds.  The practice column will still have the activities from last year, and the assess column will include the kind of evidence I'm looking for to show mastery of that objective  I'm not exactly sure what that column will look like, but I'm excited to find out.

final thoughts:
None of this really has to do with grading and assessing, so I'm thinking teachers could use this for differentiated instruction even if they aren't currently using standards based grading.

A picture of my sixth grade classroom in 2005-2006,
when I first started using activity menus.  
Took me this long to start using them in grade nine!


  1. The menu idea sounds good but sounds like it takes a lot of prep (yes/no?).

    Do you have any examples of the menu you'de be willing to share?



    1. It takes a lot of prep before you start a particular unit, but then you have minimal prep work to do during the unit. In grade 6 I prepped a week at a time, and in grade 9 I prep 3 weeks at a time.

      Here is a folder of activity menus for my grade nine physics class: http://goo.gl/K3LlJ

      and here is a book I'm currently reading on differentiating with menus: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6629007-differentiating-instruction-with-menus-middle-school

  2. You've got yourself a new subscriber. This is a great take on standards-based grading. If our lesson planning doesn't change, we haven't really changed anything.

    I love the idea of the "activity menu." I just had the idea that if you have different skills you want them to develop, you could divide the menu up into "drinks" "appetizers" "entrees" etc. and have them pick one activity from each section for a complete meal.

  3. Thanks, James. I'm really glad to find someone like you using sbg in a Latin classroom.