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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

New Teachers: Lesson and Curriculum Planning

Explore a diverse collection of curriculum-planning tips, guidance, and other resources meant to help new teachers plan effective activities, lessons, and units.

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Curriculum-Planning Tips and Strategies

  • Countdown to Your First Year: Making Planning Manageable: Need help figuring out where to start when planning for your first year of teaching? Discover answers to general questions, and find a few go-to resources. (Teaching Channel, 2014)
  • Backwards Planning Takes Thinking Ahead: Review five steps to backwards-plan your lessons -- it's like preparing for a vacation. (Edutopia, 2012)
  • Understanding by Design Overview: Bookmark this step-by-step overview of the book Understanding by Design to better understand the Backwards Design approach to designing courses. (Vanderbilt University)
  • 3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do: Focus on content, process, and product during lesson planning to give students opportunities to grow and shine as individuals. For more on differentiating instruction, the other posts in this series are great resources -- also visit Edutopia’s Differentiated Instruction page. (Edutopia, 2014)
  • Designing Learning That Matters: Explore four ideas for bringing the characteristics of deep learning to classrooms and school learning. (Edutopia, 2015)
  • To Teach Students First: Meet diverse learners' needs through a range of classroom strategies: lecture, discussion, experiential learning, games, student presentations, technology integration, and free response writing. (Edutopia, 2015)

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Crafting Unit and Lesson Plans

  • Planning the Best Curriculum Unit Ever: Train your teacher superpowers on the granular aspects of planning ahead for the new school year. Be sure to download the printable checklist associated with this post. (Edutopia, 2014)
  • 9 Ways to Plan Transformational Lessons: Take a look at nine tips to craft transformational lessons through planning, mindfulness, and a commitment to shift away from educational approaches of the past. You can download a printable tip list for easy reference. (Edutopia, 2014)
  • Curriculum-Planning Guide: This curriculum-planning guide from KIPP King Collegiate High School includes helpful guidance on creating long-term curriculum and assessment plans. (Edutopia)

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Aligning Instruction to Standards

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Finding Open Resources

  • Academic Sponge Activities: Find examples of activities to soak up precious time that would otherwise be lost. Hint: it should be fun as well as educational. (Edutopia, 2014)
  • Bell Ringer Exercises: Comb this post for useful bell work activities -- short, focused exercises to help students make the most of valuable classroom time. (Edutopia, 2014)

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Implementing Project-Based Learning

  • Getting Started With Project-Based Learning: Hoping to pilot project-based learning (PBL) this year? Explore Edutopia's curated compilation of online resources for understanding and beginning to implement PBL. (Edutopia, Updated 2016)

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For more curriculum-planning resources, visit Edutopia's Curriculum Planning and Lesson Plans pages. Looking for additional resources for new teachers? Visit the "Resources Toolkit for New Teachers" page for other curated guides, check out all of Edutopia’s content on the New Teachers page, and participate in discussions for new teachers in Edutopia’s community.

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