Are you wondering how best to plan lessons for your music room? Are you overwhelmed with the time it takes to write lesson plans, as well as the creative energy you need to come up with engaging ideas?
In this blog post, I'm offering five strategies for writing lesson plans filled with fun activities, without spending tons of time doing it!
#1: Long range plan
As a music teacher, it is very helpful to create a long range plan before the start of the school year. Whether it be a very detailed long range plan in Google Sheets, or a bulleted list of songs, activities and concepts in a Google Doc or Word, this plan can give you a vision for the upcoming school year for each grade level, and save you time, as you'll be able to use the long range plans to give you ideas for lesson planning. Here is a video I made a few years ago about creating a long range plan:
#2: Write summaries
Before I sit down and write down a complete lesson plan, I write a summary for the lesson plan. This is typically a list of which songs and activities I'd like to do for that lesson. For example, for Kindergarten, it might look like:
Here we are together
If it helps, I might add a few more details. For example, I might write (keep beat in different ways) next to “Apple Tree,” and the name of the book next to “book.” Having a list of what I'll be doing makes it so much easier to flesh out the lesson later!
#3: Batch lesson plan
If you are looking for a smart way of planning lessons for the music room, batching may be the answer. Batching is the idea of grouping similar or related tasks together and doing them all at once. This can help you reduce the time and effort that you need to put into your daily planning.
I have an ABCDE rotation. On B day, after I've taught a whole day of new lessons on A day, I'll sit down during my planning and write my lesson plans. Getting into the groove with lesson planning and writing as many as I can in one sitting makes it so much quicker! Years ago, I'd write one lesson plan on one day, one lesson plan on another, etc., and it took so much longer, because each time I wrote a lesson, I had to get into the routine.
If I don't complete all of my lessons on B day, I do the rest on C day. Then on D day, I print the lessons and gather my materials for the upcoming rotation.
#4: Use transitions
A transition is simply how you can move from one activity in the lesson to the next. Having a collection of typical transitions you use can help you increase efficiency with lesson planning. For example, here is a list of typical transitions I use:
- Echo clapping: After working with rhythm, I'll say “be my echo” and have students echo clap rhythm patterns, then end with the pattern of the next song.
- Recorder: I might simply pick up my recorder and play the next song. Students have to name the tune!
- Melodies: After working with solfa/ melody, I'll say “be my echo” and have students echo melodic patterns with solfa and hand signs, then end with the pattern of the next song. Students identify the song, and off we go!
- Story transitions: I transition from one song or chant to another with a story. For example, if transitioning from “Grizzly Bear” to “Bee Bee,” I might say “the grizzly bear got stung by a bumblebee!”
For more ideas about transitions, see these videos:
#5: Use a template
Having a lesson plan template that works for you is really helpful with lesson planning. To create one, you'll want to think about which aspects of a lesson plan you want on the template. Here is a list of common aspects of lesson plans to consider:
- I can statements
- Previous and future learning
Looking for a ready-made template? Sign up below to receive one for your music room!
Looking for ready-made lesson plans? Check out these; my fourth grade lessons have just had a major update!
Happy planning, and happy teaching!