Lesson Planning doesn’t have to be a nightmare

In my district we have been required to turn lesson plans in to our administration for about 5 years or so. It seems to have gradually become a more and more cumbersome process, but through lots of thought and discussion with my (awesome and very supportive, and unfortunately for me returning to the classroom this year!) evaluating administrator I feel like I have figured a few things out about the process. I frequently have people ask me questions at conferences and workshops about how to align a CI curriculum to standards and how to communicate our enduring understandings / daily goals / essential questions / etc. to our administrators. I am going to try to break down my own approach to lesson planning and I hope you will reply in the comments with your own tips/tricks and suggestions!

  1. Tools

Our school requires us to use Planbook.com and honestly I really like it. If your school doesn’t have a subscription, individual teachers can subscribe for only $12 per year!

Planbook allows you to share your plan with others if you choose, attach documents, and add links. It also allows you to create “templates.” Templates make my life so much easier! It means I don’t have to type the same things every day.

planbook screen shot


Notice in my template, “Assessments” and “Standards” are a link. I have created documents which explain HOW my regular-talk lesson plan aligns to my “fancy talk” standards. This way, I unpacked my standards ONCE in terms of the types of general activities I do and never need to deal with it again. My administrator is satisfied with this and my life is easier.

The “Assessments” link is a document I created which explains the way I formatively assess on an ongoing basis. For a planned summative assessment, I add that into the day’s plan as an addition under the assessments link.

Where do the links go? I have created Evernote notes for these documents and linked to them. A google document would also work beautifully. I selected Evernote for this purpose because you can attach files to the note itself for future reference.

  1. The lingo – Standards

When we first started having to align to standards our department made the choice to use the ACTFL World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (commonly referred to as the 5Cs.

I made these posters for my wall (you can download them free). If you look on the board, you will see little corresponding magnets. That is how I satisfy my admin’s desire to see my daily “meeting the standards” posted (we all know students can’t learn without that, right?).

standards posters

In my Evernote note “Standards” which I link to my Planbook lesson plan template, my administrator sees this. Feel free to copy, adapt, use in your own lessons!

Under the “Assessments” link, administrators see this.

  1. I can statements, essential questions, and enduring understandings, OH MY!

Teachers have a much harder time coming up with these types of statements with CI teaching than with grammar-based or textbook teaching. I want to share some examples of how to “talk the talk” that administrators are looking for.

Sample “CI” I can statements (these are all in my unit plan – keep reading!)

I can…

(These examples are from my unit on the novel Noches misteriosas en Granada.)

  • comprehend a level-appropriate novel
  • narrate in Spanish
  • discuss theme, plot and characters in Spanish
  • ask and answer basic questions about a novel
  • interpret basic information from authentic resources related to Spain, the Alhambra, the city of Granada
  • identify family relationships
  • comprehend and respond appropriately to questions about a story
  • interpret level-appropriate spoken Spanish
  • describe a person’s travel experience
  • explain a sequence of events
  • identify traits of different people
  • locate on a map and discuss the spatial relationships of places on the map

Sample Essential Questions / Enduring Understandings

For essential questions, I tend to focus not on linguistic topics (we all know by now that proficiency is a very unconscious and individual process, not something that students can speed up unnaturally, right?) but rather cultural and thematic issues I want students to understand as a RESULT of having comprehended everything we’ve done.

Again these examples are from Noches misteriosas en Granada.

  • How does a friendship change over time?
  • Are there times when the lines between reality and fiction can get blurry?
  • How do different people react when they are afraid?
  • How do you deal with a bully?
  • Are there differences in things like table manners in different countries?
  1. Backward Planning

Another time-saver that administrators have approved of is my unit planning. Each unit I teach has a detailed document (use a google drive folder or an evernote note) in which I gather all of my resources together and explain my plan for activities, outcomes and assessments.

This document is not pretty or polished! It is a living document that I edit each time I teach the unit. I can provide my administrator with the link and then in Plan book I can say “See unit plan for more details.”

Here is an example of a unit plan. This is my immigration unit for level 2.

Click here for More Immigration resources.

I hope this is somewhat helpful for you to see how I have tackled this problem. Please feel free to use any of my documents and adapt them for your own classroom needs.






  1. Kristy, this is great! Thank you for sharing! I do have one question, though. On the assessments note on evernote, it appears to me that something is missing at the end. The final sentence that I see is incomplete.

  2. I use planbook and I’m adding the can do statements on my planning this year. I wanted to check what template do you use on planbook for you lesson plans? Do you make your own or use the ones they give you?

  3. I believe planbookedu.com is free and it is shareable with other teachers as well. The format is like a note pad. Thanks for all of the great resources and fantastic ways to ‘talk the talk’ with administrators.

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