Lesson Plans that Save Teachers Time and Bring Students Results

Rachel Schlechter is the Director of 6-12 Literacy and Social Studies for Valley View School District in Illinois

As I entered into my career in education 15 years ago, I was young, energetic, and excited to impact student learning. Like many or probably most educators, I came to quickly learn that there is never enough time in the day, week, or even the school year to accomplish what I was trying to achieve to become a high-quality educator. Educators are always getting pulled in so many directions and have so many demands on them. They are expected to be an expert in content, in assessment design, in feedback practices, in interventions, in social-emotional learning and the list goes on and on.

Time has always been a roadblock in education. Educators want to collaborate with each other around well-planned lessons, look at student data, and together determine how to intervene in a student’s learning to truly have an impact. Educators want to meet the individual needs of students and help them grow and achieve. But time is a constant battle inside and outside of the classroom.

Two major obstacles, along with many others, stand in the way of our most dedicated, hard-working educators from achieving their goals. One, there is not enough time to find high-quality resources or invest the time into the resources to make quality lesson plans. Two, there is not enough time to watch twenty-plus students learning simultaneously and provide real-time feedback that will have an immediate impact.

Our educators spend hours of their own time and money to find the best content resources for their daily lesson plans. Our textbooks and curriculum frameworks do not inform educators about how to spend their block of time with students. Educators are left on their own and often working tirelessly to create the lessons that are delivered to students every day. Educators do not have the right resources and end up spending most of their time and energy on lesson planning than they do on executing that plan.

We have all been charged to meet the needs of individual learners and create an equitable education for every child. In one block period, our educators deliver a lesson, assign a formative assessment, and try to check in with every student. While, at the same time, students do not see the value in the work they are presented, because feedback is seldom given or students are unsure about what to do with the feedback they are receiving. There is truly not enough time in a class and it is a statement that I hear over and over again.

As I have worked with hundreds of teachers over the last decade, they all share the same sentiment. They need high-quality resources that are universally used to support each other. They need content that is rich and engaging to involve students in the learning process. They need formative measures that allow students to see themselves progressing toward mastery and can feel successful in their learning. Educators are in a search for well-designed content that produces data in real-time to best respond to learners and have the greatest impact on their learning.

What we have discovered over the last year is that Actively Learn provides a rich content library with engaging grade-level texts. The texts include questions embedded in the readings that are aligned with the skills of the standards. Actively Learn has given educators content that they can trust and eliminated their need to spend time finding a rich text and build formative questions around it.

It has allowed for an educator to view all the students in the class at the same time and receive real-time feedback about how they are performing on the standards. It allows students to interact and discuss their learning collaboratively both inside and outside of the platform.

There is no golden ticket to a perfect eduction and nothing can, or ever will, replace a high-quality educator, but there are resources that will allow educators to save time on planning lessons and perform at their best. Our educators have celebrated the design of universal lessons and high-quality tests. Finally, our educators can focus on student learning and helping our students achieve their full potential.