Planning out your force and motion unit for your elementary students might seem intimidating at first. I can certainly relate to the struggle of having way too many standards to cover in a very short amount of time.
However, with careful planning and a thoughtful unit, you can keep your students moving steadily towards the goal without feeling too overwhelmed. In this blog, I am going to share how I craft a force and motion unit.
Step 1: Create the big picture for your unit.
Before you begin lesson planning, you want to have an idea for where you are headed. We can draft this idea by creating a scope and sequence. The scope and sequence is a type of backwards planning where you begin by thinking about the end result – the content students will understand by the end of the unit and the assessment they will take.
You can create a scope for your unit by first taking out your planner or calendar. On the calendar, mark the ideal start date of your force and motion unit. Then, determine how long you want this unit to be. Mark your ideal end date. The end date of this unit will be when you assess students’ knowledge of the force and motion content.
Next, you will plan a rough draft of how you will move through this unit. Mark down a general topic or standard you want to cover each day during the unit. This can be very brief and general. You can (and likely will) make adjustments as you move through your unit, but this outline helps you scaffold skills and stay on track.
Step 2: Write your lesson plans.
Let’s clarify something first – lesson plans don’t have to be long tedious documents that script every word you will say (in fact, it’s better if they aren’t). However, drafting a simple lesson plan for your lesson is a great way to keep yourself on track with your scope and sequence, and make sure you are hitting the objective of the day.
When planning your lessons, use the scope and sequence to guide you. If the scope says to introduce gravity and friction today, but your students are still struggling with pushing and pulling forces, then it is okay to adjust your scope! After you have determined which standard or skill to focus on for that day, use a simple format to plan your lesson. I suggest using the following format: mini-lesson, activity, assessment.
Don’t want to plan out your own scope and sequence or lesson plans? Check out this force and motion unit resource. This resource has a force and motion scope and sequence, lesson plans, notes, powerpoints, and additional resources. Everything is done for you. All you have to do is download and print!
Step 3: Create guided notes for your lessons.
If you want your students to take charge of their learning and have materials to review and reference later in the unit, it’s important to have a note taking system in place. Most commonly teachers use journals to keep track of notes. However, journals can get really messy and disorganized without a good system. Additionally, interactive notebooks can be time consuming as students have to do a lot of cutting and pasting.
I highly recommend using guided notes for students. Guided notes leave space for students to fill in key information and can even have graphics for students to view. The great part of guided notes is that it organizes the information for students while still allowing them to have accountability for their learning.
I have some guided notes already created for force and motion. You can click here to check out these notes.