UnboundEd Planning Process – Read 3: Develop an instructional plan

April 2, 2021

With 2021 well underway and remote instruction continuing in many parts of the country, we want to share a few more thoughts about the UnboundEd Planning Process. The UPP, as we lovingly call it, involves three “reads” of a lesson plan that helps teachers and coaches identify and describe the teaching and learning within a lesson and make it accessible for all students. 

Last fall, we shared a post that focused on “Read 1,” which focuses on determining a prioritized learning goal for a lesson and followed up with another one about “Read 2,” which involves identifying the key learning that occurs in each part of the lesson (like mini-learning goals for each activity). Today, we’re going to share a bit about “Read 3,” which involves developing a plan for instruction that students will find engaging, affirming, and meaningful. As the culminating step of the UPP, this is truly where the magic happens.

The need for Read 3 comes from the fact that, while we know the power of culturally relevant and responsive teaching (CRT), high-quality instructional materials don’t offer teachers all of the activities, tools, and guidance needed they need to enact CRT in the most impactful ways. This isn’t necessarily due to a flaw in the materials but reflects the fact that CRT is all about tailoring instruction to meet each teacher’s specific group of students, accounting for their community, strengths, and needs. So in Read 3, teachers focus on how the activities will play out in the classroom, with a focus on Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings’s three criteria for culturally relevant teaching: academic success, cultural competence, and critical consciousness.

Teachers start by examining what’s already there: what aspects of CRT are currently present in the lesson as written? Teachers look for things like scaffolding that promotes access to grade-level learning, opportunities to include and demonstrate the value of students’ culture, and places where students can critique the norms and institutions that sustain social inequities. Identifying these moments allows teachers to give them the right amount of emphasis while teaching. From there, teachers adapt the lesson further, incorporating new practices that underscore key learning and draw students in. For example, they might add additional periods of productive struggle, collective sense-making activities, or ways to affirm students’ developing identities. Finally, they reflect: How do these instructional choices challenge or affirm the way I view my students and myself?

Since CRT is a complex activity, encompassing nearly every aspect of a teacher’s mindset and skillset, Read 3 is a process that can grow over time. Teachers can start simply with a few concrete practices and add more breadth and nuance as their understanding advances.

Ensuring that our instructional plans are engaging, affirming, and meaningful for students is a critical part of our collective movement toward educational equity. We believe that an instructional planning process grounded in CRT: 

  • helps teachers construct effective learning environments for all students;
  • provides coaches with planning strategies and observation look-fors to ensure lessons are maximally engaging and relevant for students;
  • provides students with impactful learning experiences that are engaging, affirming, and meaningful for them.

It’s been exciting for us to share this planning process with you and hope that you find it useful, especially in the context of virtual and hybrid learning. Learn more about the UnboundEd Planning Process our Online Modules, or check out our Virtual Summit, which includes a UPP pathway. We hope you continue to read our blogs, check out our videos, and share with your colleagues.