Lesson planning in a self-contained classroom can be tricky. I struggled with lesson planning a ton my first year of teaching! Thankfully I’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way. Let me show you a look inside a week of my lesson plans!
Calendar Time is my favorite time of day! My biggest tip to teachers in self-contained classrooms is to have a routine morning meeting each day. Start the first hour of your day with a calendar/morning meeting. My students love calendar time! It is a routine activity that we do each day, so they love the routine and I love that it is already prepped for me! The students are able to complete the interactive calendar on the Smartboard, and I also have a calendar mat for each student to complete at their table. You can find a great morning meeting routine HERE.
After we complete calendar, I give my students a 10-15 minute break with their preferred reward choice. Then, we begin our ELA block. This time looks different each year depending on our school schedule. This year, we have 4 components to our ELA block that lasts 1 hour. First, we practice our monthly vocabulary.
For vocabulary, I introduce 3 new words each week. We work on vocabulary DTT, picture matching, word matching, sentence building, and much more. Next, we begin our ELA unit for the month. You can shop the ELA curriculum I use HERE. I focus on one unit per month, and we do one activity per day for our ELA unit. For example, on Mondays we read our adapted book and Tuesdays we work on the workbook page as a group. Check out my blog post about how I use the Simple ELA Curriculum here. Next, we work on our Simple Comprehension unit.
We use the monthly comprehension units included in the Simple Comprehension Bundle. This bundle is great for working on comprehension with all students because there is a level for each learner. This curriculum is super easy to follow, and it lays out each lesson for you. For example, on Mondays we work the vocabulary for the story that week, Tuesdays we read the story, etc.
I love using each of these components because they are easy to implement and they are effective! Each component takes about 10 minutes to teach. I love quick, effective lessons!
After we finish vocabulary, our ELA lesson, and our comprehension lesson, my students take another 5-10 minute break before we begin the last part of our ELA block. The last and biggest component of our ELA block is Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB.) ELSB is a research based literacy program. This curriculum is great for my K-2 students for working on early literacy skills. Check out my blog post about how I use ELSB in my classroom HERE.
Goal Work Time
Next in my lesson plans is IEP Goal Work time. This also varies year to year, but this year we have an hour block for goal work time. I have a rotating schedule each week for students assigned to each staff member. Then, I also have a data matrix to assign goals and objectives to be tracked each day. During the hour, each staff member rotates through their assigned students to complete their assigned objectives for the day. The students that aren’t working 1:1 with staff member are given independent work to complete until it is their turn. I use the IEP goal bins shown above to track IEP goal data. Check out my blog post about how I set up my IEP goal bins HERE.
I do social skills instruction during our classroom lunch time this year. We use Everyday Speech for our social skills program. I work through one lesson of a unit each week. We typically do the videos, games, and practice activities. We complete one activity each day of the week. My students love the games included in this program!
The next part of my weekly lesson plans is our Math block. There are 2 components to my math lesson each day. The first component is Number of the Week. This activity is another routine that we do each day, similar to Calendar time. We work on one number per week, and we practice writing the number, filling a ten frame, sequencing, and tallying. The students complete the interactive Smartboard activity, and they also have their own Number of the Week mat they complete at their table.
The second component of my math instruction is the Simple Math Curriculum. Similar to the Simple ELA curriculum, I work through one unit per month, and we do one activity per day. For example, Mondays we read the adapted book, Tuesdays we complete a workbook page together whole group, etc. This is another activity that is simple to implement, and it is extremely effective!
Special Area & Recess (My Lunch and Planning)
The next part of my lesson plans are Special Area and Recess time. We have library, art, music, and PE special area classes at my school. The special area teachers come to my classroom this year to teach specials. While they do this, I have my lunch time. After specials, my students go to recess. During this time I have my planning period. I work on daily communication logs, IEP documents, prepping for my next lesson, etc. during this time.
Letter of the Week
The last activity on my lesson plans is Letter of the Week. This is another routine that we do daily in my classroom. I love these activities because they are fun for my students, effective, and it is an activity that is already prepped for me all year. Similar to Number of the Week, we work on one letter per week. We practice identifying the letter, identifying the sound, matching, and writing the letter. These routine activities take some work up front, but once they are prepped you don’t have to worry about it again!
There you have it: a look inside a week of my lesson plans! At the end of each week when I prep for the next week it only takes me about 20 minutes to fill in my lesson plans and prep all my materials for the next week. This year my school is using Planbookedu, but typically I plug in my lesson plans into my zoning plan (FREE download.) You can read more about how I use a zoning plan in my classroom here. What do your lesson plans look like each week?