Since I have been working with student teachers in the area of Physical Education the past three years, I have been able to appreciate the value for the use of both the Lesson Plan and the Unit Plan.
Many teachers consider both plans as a lot of work. This is very true. However, they are both necessary. The good thing about a Unit Plan is that they can be developed over the summer to fit the needs of each individual teacher in relation to the equipment, supplies, and availability of space in their area. A Lesson Plan is constantly being changed to accommodate the ever changing environment in the classroom or gym.
I always considered a Unit Plan similar to a road Atlas. It is a tool that helps get to where you want to go over a period of time. I considered a Lesson Plan as a daily itinerary. Both were vital to the success of my journey. With that in mind, lets consider the important use of each item.
The Unit Plan; Let us use the sport of volleyball (activity) as an example. However, you could actually use any discipline like math, history, art, or any other in it’s place. In softball, before you can play the game, you have to master the skills, rules, and game knowledge, before you can play. The Unit Plan would break the sport down into daily lessons and what would be covered and for how long during each class period. In Volleyball, there are five basic skills. They would be serving, setting, passing, spiking, and blocking. I would demonstrate each skill concentrating on foot work, head, hand, and eye coordination. During this entire time I would stress balance. If a class was 45 minutes long, I would spend about 15 minutes on each skill. The student would then demonstrate the skill and would go about making corrections until they mastered the proper body mechanics as best as they could. Once all skills were mastered, I would move on to the next section of skill development.
From there, I would move on to the rules of the game. I would explain the rules and show the students what each violation was so that they would have an understanding of what to avoid. It would also give them a basic general knowledge of the rules of the game.
Next would come game philosophy. What are we trying to accomplish as a team? Who does the digging, setting, serving, spiking for us as a group to be successful. Where do we want to place the ball.
The students were now ready to actually play a game in class using every area of the unit plan that I had went through.
The Lesson Plan; As I said earlier, I consider the lesson plan to be an ever changing itinerary. The night before the class, I would sit down and plan out each minute of the next days class. You can’t cover a full unit in one class. It has to be broken down so that you go step by step in the learning process. This is critical to a child’s learning performance. As I said, it is ever changing. Some students learn quicker than others. The ones that struggle a bit need to have reinforcement in succeeding days from what you already covered. Each day brings new challenges for the teacher. Situations are constantly changing in the classroom. A teacher deals with listening skills, discipline, attentiveness, environmental problems in the classroom itself, outside interference, illnesses, as well as many other distractions.
To make a Lesson Plan work, a teacher has to be ready to make adjustments in a hurry. Remember it is a plan for the daily transition of educational skills.
One other plan and thought to consider is a Sick Day Plan. A Sick Day Plan is used when you (the teacher) is absent or too ill to carry through. a good rule of thumb is to use it for reviewing everything you have covered. This is a day of reinforcement for all students. It is great tool for your substitute teacher, if you aren’t there. I usually had one with each unit plan that could be pulled out on a moments notice for use.
Both the Unit Plan and the Lesson Plan are vital tools for the teacher. Whenever I used these plans, I always practiced the “Five P’s”. Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Lastly, never discard your plans at the end of a school year. They can be reshaped to use the following year. If not by you, then by someone else as well.