Our Unit Planner
This may not be the most exciting of posts but it is a fairly critical part of our occupation. We recently updated our planning document to make it more streamlined specifically for specialists (Music, Visual Arts, PE, Performing Arts). When I first arrived our school had one planner for specialists, homeroom, and our other departments. Therefore, the planner contained some irrelevant sections, which made it lengthy and not the most user-friendly. Because of this situation, some of us, including me, did not use it as often as we should have.
Fortunately, a planner committee was created and we got to work on making a planner that is relevant, accessible, and most of all useful for specialists.
After several iterations, we came up with this. You can access it by clicking on the image below.
The red square highlights the usual basic information needed to identify the planner.
The next section ensures that our planners and our lessons tie in with the school's mission and philosophy. We highlight the sections that we intend to relate to during the unit.
The Unpacking section of the planner is where you put your nuts and bolts of the unit usually taken from your POI (Program of Inquiry). I tend to only have 2 AtLs and 1 Learner Profile to ensure we get a solid understanding of what these mean, how they connect with the unit, and how they can be applied into other areas of their life. If I throw in too much into the unit then in-depth understanding, I feel, can suffer.
The following section is where we can explore some questions targeted toward a relevant skill, concept, learner profile, etc. For example, if your concept is 'Form' for a Movement Composition unit, the question could be, "What are your movements?" If the AtL is 'Analysing' for a Track and Field unit, you could ask, "What are the key or important parts of the high jump?"
The next section, as it states, identifies what established or competency looks like for each of these. For example, if your AtL is 'Formulating and Planning' for a Movement Composition unit, you could indicate that established would be, 'can create a logical plan for a choreographed gymnastics/dance sequence'. Or if your Learner Profile is 'Courageous' for an Invasion Games unit, you could set established as, 'approaches unfamiliar situations with courage and consideration'.
The final section in the first page of the planner is to indicate which SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) you intend to link with for the unit.
Turning to the second page of the planner we first find our Unit Curriculum Outcomes section. Here is where you list your outcomes you intend to achieve within your unit. You can usually find this in your POI or mapped curriculum document.
This section I found quite exciting to include. Considering how language intensive any subject is, it is crucial to ensure the language we use is accessible to all students. Particularly in my situation where the majority of our students are using English as an additional language. This is still an area I need much more work on however, we fortunately have a fantastic EAL department that assist us whenever we need a hand when it comes to language learning.
I have included the language arts bank here for you to refer to if needed.
Briefly, the Functions and Grammatical Tools section is for language that can include tenses. For example, past tense: I threw the ball, present tense: I am throwing the ball, future tense: I will throw to you.
Talking Frames are quite useful for our discussions and reflections since these can assist the kids to create coherent sentences within the context of the unit. Going ahead with the ball throwing example, if we use 'Language of Sequencing' we can have the frame of "First.... next.... after that... finally." A completed sentence could look like, "first we put the ball in our throwing hand and opposite foot forward. Next we point at our target with our non-throwing hand. After that we throw the ball at our target. Finally, we make sure we turn our body for more power.
The vocabulary section specifies specific words we will be using in our unit. UOI (unit of inquiry) related language is specific language to that unit, such as 'balance beam' in Movement Composition or 'Javelin' in Track and Field or 'attack' in Invasion Games. The language section is PE specific language you'll be targeting, such as balance, throw, movement, skills, etc. General/Daily is for much more general words where you can target 'he/she' as an example. Some of our younger kids still get those two mixed up. Or an alternative could be positional language such as under, over, left, right.
The following section is essentially a space where you can put any idea down relevant to your unit, no matter how crazy, dull, or far-fetching. Just throw it in there. You can sift through these as you proceed to creating your actual unit plan.
The final section of the second page is where we predict some questions that students could ask and then find possible responses to them. For example, "will we have a handball tournament?" This is where I can start finding out if these questions could be made possible.
And now we are at our last page. This is where you start creating your vision for the unit. I tend to work backwards of what I would like to end the unit with. May it be a Track and Field Carnival, a tournament of some sort, or our school musical. The left column breaks the plan down into weeks. The following column indicates which inquiry stage the lessons are at. We follow the Kath Murdoch Inquiry Cycle. Acknowledgement to Making Good Humans for their incredibly insightful article on this cycle.
Here is where you determine when during your unit you will be hitting those outcomes, AtLs, concepts, etc. Where you place these will determine your learning experience / lesson in the following column.
This next section is where you actually write down what your actual lesson plan, what you intend your lesson to be. I break down these weeks into Lesson 1, and Lesson 2 for my grades 3-5, and do 1 lesson per week for my grade 1s.
The hope was that this planner would be accessible and used daily. This is where these two next columns come into play. After each lesson or week you would determine next steps for the unit and indicate any significant actions taken by students.
And lastly, we come up to where we reflect on the unit and anything we need to tweak or scrap entirely for the following year. When planning for the same unit the following year we would use this current planner to help create the new unit. That way we can continually reflect, modify, and refine the unit in the hopes of improving it.
I hope this blog has given you some thoughts about your own planner. If you feel that this planner could be improved, please do let me know. Happy teaching.