Adventures in Low Prep: 3 Planning Tips to Save Time and Sanity

June 2022 – 

World Language teachers are known for teaching multiple levels (and even multiple contents!). We’re also often known for having 2, 3, 4+ content preps for any given day… but the same or less amount of planning time to prep those contents as teachers that teach 1 or 2 contents. We’re often departments of 1, left to figure out survival on our own. But – no more. 

This past weekend I had the pleasure of presenting at Comprehensible Iowa on recycling content to create a low prep planning lifestyle. I was absolutely amazed at the response and feedback I heard throughout the day from teachers saying how much they wish they had known / thought about this earlier. So I’d like to share my 3 top tips for low prep planning that will provide high quality input and high yield results from student engagement. 

Tip 1: Plan Activities you can Reuse. 

Now that you’re reading that, it probably sounds like a no-brainer. And now you’re probably wondering what this even means and how to do it. Here’s an easy example: While you read / review / create a story in your classroom, assign 2 – 4 students a job of creating true / false questions or a list of events from the story. You then have a list of true / false questions you can use for a quiz or comprehension check or a a list of events that you can use as a matching activity or ordering events! New activities to do without any work from you required!

Tip 2: Plan Activities that lend themselves to Movement

How does movement give you back your time? #1 Adding movement to an activity typically extends the activity. Example: You could read / review 10 true / false questions as a whole class and be done in 5 minutes or you could hang up those true / false questions around your room and the hallways and have your students match the answers on a sheet (or even copy them down and correct false statements) and you now have a 10 – 15 minute activity. #2 Movement typically requires collaboration from students and re reading from students, both skills needed for interpreting content and getting more input. #3 Adding movement will increase student buy-in and engagement. 

Tip 3: Plan Activities that involve Creativity

Why creativity? Just like movement, creative activities will reach students that need this particular outlet. Also like movement, they have high amounts of student buy-in and engagement. But most importantly, they often lead to activities you can reuse and save yourself even more time. Example: instead of reviewing what happened in a story verbally, have students create a story board or class mural. You’ll see comprehension through art and you’ll have pictures you can reuse for activities. 

My biggest lesson and takeaway from last school year was this new mantra: What will future you look back and thank you for? Do that. Moving makes my students happy, which makes me happy. Creativity gives me easy reusable activities that my students are proud of, that makes me happy. 

Happy recycling!

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