Organizing Lessons

SInce I am in my forties, I have not yet fully embraced cloud-based file storage, and I am highly wedded to Finder.   Those Chrome books that lack even a basic a file management system just makes me uneasy.  Also I don’t trust search.  I want to be able to navigate to the actual file. I am a throw back, I know, but all this has forced me to develop what I think turns out to be a pretty good system of electronic file management.

Here’s how it works.  Each major unit gets a folder, for example “Fraction Concepts.”  Last year Fraction Concepts was the third unit of the year.  Here is a screen shot of Finder that shows some of the files I used on the fourth day of the unit:


(Sorry this is so small; I can’t figure out how to make this bigger; click it and you should be able to read it.)

Every document that I actually used on that particular day starts with the prefix U3D4 which stands for Unit 3, Day 4.  The first file with nothing following U3D4 is the lesson plan in a Power Point.  The name of the file, “benchmarks” tells me this is a lesson on percent benchmarks.  The next set of files that start with “U3D4 CW” are documents that student did during class.  They might be a game, a worksheet, etc.  I can also tell from the file names that this was a lesson with some differentiation. The CW-A means this is the class work for “apprentice” level students.  CW-P means “practitioner” level class work.  Here are some other codes that I use:

HO – handout (for reference sheets, and the like)

HW – homework

WU – warm up

EX – exit ticket

If I am using links to websites, videos, etc. as part of a lesson, these resources are recorded via a link in the power point lesson plan.

Anything related to Fraction Operations that I didn’t use in a particular lesson but that I want to save goes into a sub folder called Fraction Operations (or other unit name) Resources.  In this way I can distinguish between what I actually used and what I think I might want to use in a workshop time, for remediation, or next year.

This system means that I almost always create a file for even the simplest things.  For example, today I wanted to assess my sixth graders’ familiarity with the traditional long division algorithm, so I printed a 1/2-sheet with just two problem, rather than writing them on the white board.

It also means that I no longer use a binder for lesson plans, handouts or anything else!   In fact if I don’t have something in electronic form, it’s highly unlikely that I will use it in any lesson.

This year I have started using this same numbering system with my students’ binders.  The trackers numbers they write on their papers and on their table of contents mirror my file naming system.  My hope is that my students will look at the codes and know whether a particular piece of paper served as a warm up, class work, or homework.  We’ll see if I can keep it up all year long.


4 Responses to Organizing Lessons

  1. Avee says:

    I’m in my 60’s, so I really am a dinosaur! How do you do exit tickets? I’ve seen the term, but don’t know how they work.

    • In my room, an exit ticket is usually one or two questions (on a half sheet of paper or a problem on the board that students complete on an index card) that will tell me whether students have actually learned what I set out to teach that day. For example, if I am teaching about the order of operations, I might give one or two expressions for students to evaluate. I usually choose one that is very basic (e.g. 3 + 6 * 9) and one that requires students to go further ( 3 x 4 + 12 / 22^2). It enables me to know whose homework I really need to look at the next day, and who I need to check in with. I use warm ups at the beginning of a class in the same way. Some teachers feel that a student shouldn’t be allowed to leave class until an exit ticket is completed accurately. I don’t use them this way because if a student didn’t understand the lesson at a normal pace, there is no way their going to learn it in the last 3 minutes of class when everyone else is gone and they are worried about getting to their next class. However, if I see a student is struggling to complete the exit ticket, I will likely modify their homework so they are not going home and practicing the wrong way to evaluate expressions.

  2. Pingback: One Good Thing – MS Sunday Funday | I Speak Math

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