Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Quest for Organization: My Lesson Plan Book

I've written before about the challenges of preparing for a semester of teaching at the college level.  Deciding what topic to cover and what readings to assign for every single class meeting of a 10, 14, or 16 week course is challenging.  It took a few tries, but I've finally come up with a system that works well for me.

First, I decide what papers my students are going to write and approximately how long I want to spend on each of those units.  I always make sure my weeks add up to the appropriate number for that semester.  I assign each unit several chapters from the book that I think will correspond with the learning objectives.

Secondly, I take a blank notebook.  70 pages is more than enough.  I then use different color post-it notes to mark the days of my classes.  Thus far I've been lucky that they are all on the same days of the week.  I put my earliest class at the top of the page.  Each day the class meets gets its own post-it note.  Now I can start filling in starting with Day 1.

I almost always start with a syllabus review, diagnostic writing assignment, and a presentation on the rhetorical situation.  Depending on whether or not it is a 50 minute, 75 minute, or 90 minute session I may also add a syllabus quiz, or take away the presentation.  I slowly fill in which chapter or topic I want to cover each session, which journal entry the class will be doing, and any major due dates.  I try to mark due dates with a different colored post-it so I can try to keep papers due on different days for different classes.  This helps a lot when it comes to grading!

Why do I use post its?  There are several reasons:
1.  They are colorful
2.  I can remove them easily if I really mess up.
3.  If I really wanted to I could reuse them for the next semester by moving them onto a different date.

This method is extremely useful to me.  Now, when I am preparing for a class or the week I open to that week in particular and can see quickly what I want to cover.  I can then fill in details about in-class activities and homework as I see fit.  It has really helped me stay organized.  If I change something I can easily write it in so I can look back to it for future classes.

How do you keep organized?  Does it come naturally to you or do you struggle with it?

*I am not affiliated with National Heritage Academies, I just had their post it notes.*

Thanks for reading!


  1. I like this idea a lot--not just for lesson plans, but also for other note-keeping/organizational challenges. It's nice to see that six post-its fit so nicely on a standard page. I had a thought, too, that it also gives you space to write another note under the post-it if you need to remember something about how a particular lesson went or changes you want to make next time!

  2. Absolutely, it's great for reflecting on your lessons. - Ms. F