Curriculum Mapping: Cohesive Planning for Effective Instruction; Part 4: Building Your Lessons

This is Part 4 in the Curriculum Mapping series.  Check out Part 1: Curriculum Evolution, Part 2: The Nitty-Gritty Details, and Part 3: The Big Picture.

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In Part 3, I discussed using your district’s yearly calendar to begin to map out your year and the method to planning where to sequence units within the school year.

Now, we’re going to look at actually creating the Year-at-a-Glance document.  Here is a template for you to use.

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Now, that you have your sketch of the year and units, it’s time to put that information into play creating the actual lessons for the year.  Go back to the Curriculum Outline you came up with in Part 2 and order the objectives within each concept of your units.

For example, in the sample concept unit below, I would start with identifying the steady beat and move to show the steady beat and no steady beat.  From there, I would continue steady beat instruction with playing unpitched percussion instruments on the steady beat.  I’d transition into rhythm instruction by differentiating between beat and rhythm.  From there, we would work on one and two sounds on the beat (reading, writing, composing, performing, listening, etc.)

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Of course, there will never be enough TIME so you’ll probably have to combine objectives.  I know I have.  Also, some objectives take longer than others so judge best for now and reevaluate as necessary.  After you’ve sequenced your objectives, match the appropriate standard strand so that your lesson will be administrator approved.  It also allows you to customize your lesson to the objective and standard rather than attempt to customize the standard to fit the lesson you want to use.

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So, now we’re going to build the lesson.

DISCLAIMER REPEAT: I’m not the end-all be-all music teacher and am no expert in anything.  I’m just sharing what I do in hopes that it helps someone else.

Okay, so the left column on this next slide is how I organize my lessons so that everything is included.  I don’t always use every single box for every single lesson and, note, I over-plan lessons like mad (because I’d rather be OVER-prepared than underprepared).

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Now, have you ever been in this situation? You find something really cool.  It might be a pin on Pinterest or a Facebook post and you totally want to include in your lesson plans BUT it doesn’t really fit with what you’re teaching right now.  So, you put it aside for when you can use it next month or year or whatever.  If you’re anything like me, you’re totes not going to remember what that cool idea or resource was if you even remember something existed you were wanting to remember at all.

Well, with this spreadsheet, you can immediately plug in the idea or resource as you find it and put where it can logically go.

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Here is an example of what a lesson looks like:

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This lesson is from Kindergarten’s unit on Sound Explorations and this specific lesson is for Found Sounds.

We start with the Trashin’ the Camp song video from Tarzan.  I ask the children to look for items that are used as instruments but aren’t and, after we watch it, we go around and share what we saw.  It serves as an intro to finding musical sounds in nontraditional musical objects.

You’ll see it’s underlined in the screenshot above so that I can go directly to the link without having to search for it or have any youtube ads on the side.  Here’s what it looks like when a video is on instead of youtube.  Since you can save the link and save yourself some trouble later (with the searching and ads) your lesson plans are the perfect place to keep that link.

The “Focus Activity” for this lesson actually comes later in the lesson instead of close to the beginning because, first, we read Listening Walk by Paul Showers and then go on our own listening walk.  You can see the “I Can” statement (that’s what the children see on the board), the objective and the standard (for the administrators to see).  I include both the “I Can” statement and the objective for both audiences.

You can see the rest of the lesson elements.  The two PBS activities are really great for the children to get to play with different found sounds.  I use the Stomp Kitchen scene as an additional listening selection.  We finish with a simple assessment about timbre (they don’t know that vocabulary work yet) but they can sort sounds based on timbres even if they don’t know the exact word.

Of course, you’ll have to customize to fit your situation with the following questions:

How many students do you see at a time?
That will depend on long thing’s take.

How long do you see each grade level?
30 minutes is a big difference from 45 minutes or 50 minutes.  Trust me, I’ve done all those.  I’ve even done 22 1/2 minutes.

How often do you see your students?
22 1/2 minutes stinks but, if it is everyday, then it gives lots of great review and the ability to go over activities and concepts very frequently.

What technology is available?
I’m spoiled rotten now but, in my first school, I had a CD player as my only technological item.  I’m not saying you HAVE to have the tech to be a successful teacher.   Of course not but you do need to take it into consideration.

How much space to you have?
This is important to consider for games, centers, and movement.

Curriculum Mapping Presentation.024Finally, a note on keeping track.  I use a secondary page like the one seen above to show what each class has done because I’m totally not going to remember.  This serves not only to keep track but also as documentation to show what worked and what didn’t in each lesson.  Because I use cloud storage (specially Google Apps), I can edit this from my phone, iPad, laptop, anywhere with an internet connection to keep track of the lessons.

And that’s it.  I sure hope this helped you in your planning.  Like I’ve said before, it is not the work of a day or even a year but the work of many years and many minds to try to find the best solution for organizing the school year.  If you have any questions or want anything else explained further (because I sometimes accidentally assume people can read my mind).  You can also contact me miscellaneouscara at gmail dot com or at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  Finally, here is the handout for the presentation.

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2 thoughts on “Curriculum Mapping: Cohesive Planning for Effective Instruction; Part 4: Building Your Lessons

  1. Oh. My. Goodness. This series has been SO helpful as I start thinking of where my kids will end this year and where they need to be next year. It’s always around this time of the year where my jaw drops and I think, “wait, what have I been teaching all year??” I always try to plan the year out, but I’ve never done it in an organized way and it ends up being a useless document that I never finish or open. I know it would be a huge relief for me and my administrator would be impressed, too! Thanks again for laying all this out!

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