(This was moved from the end of Classroom Management – Part 3)
I am lucky to have that online curriculum, so I only spend about 10-20 minutes each week preparing for math – just long enough to print out and read over the daily assignments for that week. (Lately, I’ve been printing whole units at once.) Most of the time, I give kids a week’s worth of work at a time because some will fly through it, some will take just long enough, and some will need more than a week to finish it. Giving them a week at a time means I don’t have to scramble around for extra work if they finish a daily assignment early.
For English, my planning time varies. I base my grammar/vocabulary assignments on what problems I notice in their writing assignments. A few years ago, I found some really good workbooks and made mini-lessons for a variety of problems, and made a bunch of copies of each one. So when I notice that one student is having trouble with subject-verb agreement, his grammar assignment that week will probably be on that. That means not all students are doing the same assignment, but my stockpile allows me to pick and choose. Were I in a traditional classroom, I would do this the same way. They would get a weekly grade for “Grammar,” but Johnny’s assignment might not be the same as Susie’s.
For some good help with teaching grammar and writing skills, check out Jeff Anderson’s Mechanically Inclined or Everyday Editing. Kids really struggle with editing because they think once they’ve written it, it’s finished. We as teachers need to model good writing and editing. When my students are doing their writing assignments, I spend at least half the time sitting right at the table with them writing my own (some of which may end up here at some point), and then I show them how I edit my own work.
I also keep notes for myself from year to year – what worked, what didn’t. Almost like a teacher’s journal. I’ve also been keeping all of the assignments I’ve ever given on a flashdrive. There are hundreds of documents on it from the past 8 years. If I pull a worksheet from a book, I scan it to a PDF and it goes on the flashdrive to be used later. I am not the most organized person, but digitally, I look like Martha Stewart. It just makes life easier.