Lesson Plan Series {Differentiating Unit Plans}

All Posts in This Series:
Oh my!  I bet you thought I totally skipped out on this series.  I didn't.  I promise.  End-of-year craziness just set in.  Times one thousand!  I'm back though.  Double this week to get caught back up with you!

Today is a quickie.  Just a few ideas of how I differentiate my unit plans.  Since I use my plans from year to year, how do I make sure that they're differentiated to meet the needs of my students.

Well, first of all, I update them a bit each year before teaching that unit.  I go back through the plans with a "fine-toothed comb" and add in any new resources, books, or ideas that I've found.  And trust me, there are ALWAYS changes to be made.  It's super important to keep them fresh and updated so that I don't get bored teaching! :)

In the last post, I shared with you one of my unit plans.  Here it is again.
  {Click picture to download PDF, Click HERE to download an editable Word format}

I use this exact same format for all subjects - reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.  At the top, I always include any enrichments, extensions for early finishers, projects, etc.  Administration loves to see this and placing it all in one spot makes it easy to find.

The above snapshot shows you some of the enrichments from my current Fairytale Genre in reading.

Of course my reading groups change often.  Since I do more of a readers' workshop approach in reading (than guided reading) my groups (or reading partners) change often.  Sometimes those will be reflected directly in my plans, such as this snapshot from my Mysteries Unit.

Other times, I will not note specific groups in my plans, I will just have their books and use post-its to assign books/groups based on reading levels.

I do the same thing for math - list enrichments, projects, etc at the top.  Insert math groups or rotations when those are being used (since I don't use them daily).  

I've had to learn that it's OKAY to write all over my plans, add sticky notes....they SHOULD be a working document!

I've had several questions about if all of my unit plans follow this same format and they DO!  Keep in mind that I teach reading and writing through genre units (as noted on my long range plans in a previous post), so this format works perfectly!  The only subject that is a tad different is word study.  This is when I teach spelling patterns and grammar skills.  I don't like to teach grammar during writing as it take away from the writing process.  I DO emphasize it and revisit it during that time, but not specific hard-core teaching of it then.  That happens during word study.  So, my word study plans are weekly, but in this same format.  Here's a glance at how they look.

I'll be back later THIS WEEK to talk about my favorite topic - organizing my units. :)


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share how you unit plan. I am loving it and looking forward to start setting up my planning by units! =)

  2. So glad you are back, I have been brainstorming like crazy and your post are so helpful. My county requires us to use Daily 5, and I do, but I also give myself some wiggle room as to what they are doing at stations. This is helpful as I need something so it will quit feeling at times like I am recreating the wheel. Thanks so much.

  3. Wow , I love how detailed your lesson plans are . I have to cram everything in one page . I might just do this for me .

  4. I love this series. Thanks for your help! Do you use Words Their Way? I'm trying to decipher your word study plans on your LRP! :) Thanks for any help!

    1. I don't use Words Their Way. Our school doesn't have a word program, but they did give us a list of patterns to use. I created a differentiated program that I use - you can read about it here - http://www.teachingmaddeness.com/2014/08/its-here-differentiated-spelling-for.html


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