Magazine article Techniques

Proper Planning for Success and Sustainability

Magazine article Techniques

Proper Planning for Success and Sustainability

Article excerpt

OBJECTIVES, LEARNING TARGETS, FIELD TRIPS, FORMS, PHONE CALLS, questions, classroom management and teaching. Sound familiar? This is pretty much a typical day for a teacher. It is very difficult for someone outside the profession to truly envision all that we must accomplish in one day. In addition, standards of every size, shape and form rule our lives. If we are not careful, these same standards will lead to burnout and searching for a new career.

With all the increased pressure for teachers to perform, a new method of planning is essential to create effective projects that incorporate all standards and make life easier for the educator. The easiest method, especially for less experienced teachers, is the Square Method; and it's really quite simple to use. Draw a large table with however many squares are needed to plan your semester or year. A square can represent a week or unit of study, it just depends on how you want to plan your lessons. The most common approach is weekly, so that you can see a detailed map of the semester or year. You can use a white board, large sheets of paper, poster board or the computer, depending on your individual learning style. Technology can be added into this process at many points, which we'll discuss later.

First, gather all the standards that need to be included and become familiar with them. Second, group them into sections that work well together, if you didn't already do so in Step 1. Third, find a few project ideas that spark your interest. A good place to begin is on career and technical student organization (CTSO) websites like or Also, Google is an excellent tool to find interesting projects. Simply type in an idea for a project that seems fun for students to create, and more than likely someone has already done some of the leg work for you. For instance, a simple Google search for building a plant cell will show you how to build 3-D models or even how to make one out of a cake. The key is finding something fun and engaging for your students, letting them guide the ideas as much as possible (although clear expectations are a must).

With all the pieces of the puzzle laid out, use sticky notes, pencil or a dry erase board to begin filling in the squares. Despite the chosen method for filling in the squares, make sure it can be altered; as the details come more into focus, you will make changes and tweaks until it is exactly what you desire. Remember that for the first time using a project, adjustments are a given and not a mark of improper planning. Flexibility and a willingness to update the plan are just as essential as the original planning process. See the table for a modified example of the Square Method.

Any of the squares can be modified at any time as the project comes to life. Each square also accounts for all the standards that need to be covered. For example, you can use the Square Method to write a business plan. A template and example can be found online, so they might be placed into week one or two to familiarize students with the project. Weeks two through four may have deadlines for completing the multiple sections as the standards are being covered.

By the end of this simple project, students will have covered their course standards, reading and writing standards, CTSO standards and gained 21st-century skills (problem solving, creativity, etc. …

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