If you’re reading this while thinking, “How do I even begin planning for 1st or 2nd grade?” or “What I did last year didn’t work and I need to try out something new!” this is the post for you! Let’s start by going over the basics for planning for 1st grade/2nd grade. Then, we can jump into some more detailed tips & tricks.
Basic Planning Materials For 1st Grade/2nd Grade
Let’s start with some basic planning materials that will make all of your planning SO MUCH easier. If you can keep all your planning materials in easy-to-find and access locations you’re more likely to use them consistently and keep them (and yourself) more organized.
1. Teacher Binder
My teacher binder holds EVERYTHING. Let’s take a quick walk through the tabs you can use to keep everything organized and in one convenient place!
Teacher Binder Cover: I either make new ones every year or use generic covers and update the school year. These binder covers depend on my energy level at the start of the year. If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll put in the time to make it my own but if I’m really busy then something simple is totally fine! Don’t let the cover stress you out.
Tab #1 – Lesson Plans: My lesson plans are a checklist because I don’t have time to read full sentences when I’m glancing at what I planned for the day. Lesson plans for the week go in front.
Tab #2 – Planning: The planning tab has our curriculum map, testing/ benchmark dates, etc.
Tab #3 – RTI: The RTI (Response to Intervention) tab has each student’s academic documentation and I label their names with sticky tabs so I can flip to students easily.
Tab #4 – Small Group Reading: Take a look at the Tools for Planning Reading Interventions post if you need a little help with this tab!
Tab #5 – Data: This is can be fluency or assessment data, informal grades you jot down while walking the room, student observations, or anything else you’d like to keep track of.
Tab #6 – Student Information: Finally, the student info tab has sheets from the beginning of the year with all parent contact information.
2. Weekly Copy Box
I use this to drop papers in that are ready to be copied. I organize by week and try to plan a few weeks ahead when I can! Once the copies have been made, I file the paper back in my master 2nd grade files box.
3. Mentor Texts
These bins hold mentor texts we use to teach writing and comprehension topics in order of when they are taught during the year.
Teacher Manuals: I keep all of my manuals, favorite teacher resource books, and reference charts in a tub so they don’t end up stacked in piles on my desk.
I’ve Got The Basics… Now What?
So you have your teacher binder and your basic organization materials for mentor texts and teacher manuals but how do you actually fill in Tab 1 & Tab 2 mentioned above?
First, it depends on your school. Some schools have a very rigid process around planning. You may have a curriculum that comes with a daily schedule, scripted lessons, or a sequence you have to follow. For some educators, there’s a lot of freedom & flexibility. Click the link below to visit the section of this blog post that fits your situation.
I) Planning for 1st/2nd Grade When You Have a Set Schedule or Curriculum
If you’re looking at those first two tabs in your teacher binder and you work in a school with a set curriculum then there’s no need to fear! Pull out your teacher copy of the curriculum (if you don’t have one, ask a teammate). It should contain week-by-week plans and your curriculum map.
Planning at schools with set curriculum are all about communication with members of your team. You may be required to stay together across grade levels or be allowed to proceed at your students’ pace. Talk to your team leader and make sure you understand what is required of you.
Fill In Content Gaps
If you look through your lesson plans and find gaps in standards I HIGHLY encourage you to download the Scope & Sequence freebie. You can find the skill your students need a little more instruction in and simply click on the PDF for a direct link to materials that correspond to that skill.
Or if you’re a 2nd grade teacher with some students in need of additional support, download the 1st grade Scope & Sequence to revisit those valuable 1st grade skills. If the RTI tab
II) Planning for 1st Grade/2nd Grade When You Create Your Schedule or Curriculum
There are some wonderful perks to having all the freedom you want to plan and teach the curriculum you want. However, it can be scary and overwhelming if you’re not prepared for it. If you don’t have your year planned out ahead of time it can cause some pacing issues. That is why having a scope & sequence plus general week-by-week plans is really helpful.
Why Do I Need a Scope & Sequence?
If you don’t have a prescribed curriculum or you’re a newer educator (or both!) you may not be super familiar with the term scope & sequence. In the simplest terms, a scope & sequence is a list of topics/standards that will be covered during the year. It gives you a quick reference for WHAT you’re teaching and the ORDER you’re going to teach them in. If you’re a 1st or 2nd Grade teacher you can get a free Scope & Sequence here:
Other phrases you’ll hear paired a lot with scope & sequence are pacing guide or curriculum map. Pacing guides/curriculum maps (the words are used interchangeably) are often used in conjunction with scope & sequence. They’re basically calendars for teachers to pace out the school year while keeping school breaks in mind. The Scope & Sequence freebie has weeks attached to each skill. You can use those weeks as a sort of pacing guide to plan your school year.
Mash It Up and Plan!
Using your FREE scope & sequence plus the weekly teacher plans (below) build out your school year and add it to your tab 1 & tab 2 of your teacher binder so they’re always available. Remember, having editable plans are great because something ALWAYS pops up. Plans change all the time and being able to quickly move skills around is valuable. If you have lesson plans on something like Google Sheets you can quickly edit and print out updated plans.