So we ended up the last post with this:
A rough sequence of ideas and activities for each of my classes for the entire year.
I then tried typing out a calendar in iCal, but once again, a simpler, less techy, more kinesthetically satisfying method won out in the end:
The desk calendar. Nine months of school. I started by consulting my school web site and internal calendars to determine some of the major events of the year:
- start of school
- holiday breaks
- faculty days (no school for students)
- back-to-school night and parent visiting day
- things like Freedom from Chemical Dependency week where the academic schedule is significantly adjusted
- winter break and spring break
- final exams
- end of school
After writing all that in, I took out colored pads of small post-it notes: blue for 7th grade, yellow for 8th grade. I taped up the large calendars to one of my chalkboards and started posting up the reading schedule assignments for each of the book units of the year in the sequence I had determined before:
I then tacked up my index card ideas in the weekend spots alongside each week (Sunday for 7th graders, Saturday for 8th graders):
…and ended up with a pretty good visual overview of the year. I could see for myself which units I had a lot to work with, and which ones I had a scarcity of ideas for. I could see where I needed to invest more work to make later projects succeed. I could see where there were more opportunities in terms of scheduling and free time. I could see where I was integrating the class themes and where there were threads of skill development. I could get a sense of the ebb and flow of energy of the year.
I actually stood in front of the thing for a good while, just taking it in. It was a bit like doing a chi sao exercise, adjusting to the feel of the year. It was a lot of work, but I ended up feeling more confident, less anxious, better attuned to the purpose and direction of my teaching.
But I wasn’t done yet…