#FutureFriday: What does Future-Ready Lesson Planning look like?

on March 31, 2017 in lesson planner

Getting your school Future-Ready is a journey, not a destination, and you are well on your way already!

Maybe the braintrust in your school district is leading the way. Maybe you’ve been using the resources from the National Future-Ready Schools Program, or maybe your state DOE is giving their own advice.

All of our milestones will all look a little different, but we’re traversing the same landscape, which is why we’ll be dedicating some of our #FutureFridays to looking at practical ways to build up your Future-Ready foundation at your school district.

So today we'll ask:  What does Future-Ready Lesson Planning process look like?

Let’s go backward a half-step and check in with our curriculum team. Perhaps they are already teasing apart our units of instruction and infusing 21st Century Skills into them…like the eight skills recommended by the national Future Ready Schools program. Ideally, they’ve found the opportunity to reimagine some of their units to include applied learning opportunities, project-based learning, self-directed activities, and the like.

As part of that, especially if you are flipping and blending, you’re collecting a ton of great resources to go along with these, your YouTube videos and your EdPuzzles, etc.

So if you agree with the Future Ready School's suggestion that this “digital content is mapped to the curriculum, creating an seamless digital learning environment," then this is the coup-de-grace of the ol’ curriculum binder.

Because what we’re saying is that our curriculum and lesson planning in a Future-Ready school isn’t a paper trail, it’s a digital ecosystem teeming with meaningful connections and resources.

Future-Ready Lesson Planning

So that brings us to the lesson planning process, which seems simple to me if I’m roleplaying an administrator.

My teachers create their lesson plans, email them to me or post them online, I look at them and make sure they are incorporating these 21st Century Skills, our applied learning strategies, and I’m golden, right?

Yeah, sorta'.

After several weeks of reviewing lesson plans, and observing classrooms, I’ll have a general sense for the spirit of each classroom and whether they are creating the types of authentic, relevant experiences that we hoped for.

So your intuition and experiences are an extremely valuable tool. But another valuable tool that proves to be quite elusive…is meaningful data on the lesson planning process. And yes, data-driven decision making is a pillar of Future Readiness. So how does data look in the world of Lesson Planning?

Let’s say that our focus this year is project-based learning, we’ve done some PD, we’ve got some interesting opportunities baked into the curriculum, and I’m embarking on my second round of classroom walkthroughs.

Do I have a way to see which classrooms are working on a project-based learning unit?  Or if I’m supporting an individual teacher…do I have a quick way to look at the lesson plans over the marking period and find out instantly if they are incorporating 21st Century Skills, and which ones?

If you can’t yet…then your Digital Learning Environment is Digital….but there’s some work to do on the Learning Environment part.

There’s ONE brutally simple mechanic that makes the entire difference here.

Let’s say a teacher wants to identify that her lesson has elements designed to build cultural awareness, one of our 21st Century Skills. She might spell it out (literally type it out!) in her plans. Or, she can embrace this simple mechanic, which is “TAGGING” cultural awareness into her lesson plan.

In the tech world, “metatagging” is a very important concept! It helps searching algorithms become more intelligent, much in the same way, that an instructional leader will be getting more actionable intelligence.

This is just as valuable for the teacher, because during the process of tagging, she gets a quick reminder about all the 21st Century Skills or Strategies that she can be incorporating in future plans. These are really easy to lose track of.

Tracking Progress Towards Standards

This process of tagging is also enormously important for tracking our progress toward benchmarks and standards.

I’m writing the plan anyway, and I’m keying in the standard number anyway…but is this process adding value?

Not as much value as if I were to tag the standards, instead of writing it out, which now gives me as a teacher the ability to view my scope-and-sequence dynamically.

It gives my administrators a dynamic view of how our grade level is progressing in designing lessons for each of those standards. When benchmark testing results come in, we get to analyze the instruction in a meaningful way, and make authentic data-informed decisions.


So in most schools, curriculum is a silo, lesson plans are a silo, assessments are a silo, and we hope that the standards and skills are all connecting.

But how can you build Future Ready bridges? Start breaking down those silos and find out if your platform supports tagging of standards, strategies, even technology used in the classroom, so we can start to get data rolling.

If you are really jazzed up to build your digital learning ecosystem, give us a call and we can help you start to bring planning, curriculum, and assessment closer together.

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