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For Part 1 – Go Here

So last time we talked about how to develop a curriculum map for your program. The important thing is to have an End Goal – set out to a year, several months, an event, etc – and plan backwards from there.  Once you have that goal set, it’s time to plan how to get there.

When talking about curriculum and lesson planning I like to use the analogy of a road trip in a car. We know where we are starting from. Setting our End Goal is deciding where we want to go. This is the Big Picture. But this isn’t a road trip we can make in one day – this is talking LA to New York kind of road trip. So we know we want to go to New York from LA, but now we need to plan where we are going to stop along the way. Once we have our stops, we can plan how we are going to get there on each leg of the trip.

Overall Curriculum Goal
How to Get My Students ThereHow to Get My Students There
Individual LessonIndividual LessonIndividual LessonIndividual Lesson

The above visual aid (super artistic, I know) shows how this maps out – I create the Overall Curriculum Goal, then decide what I need to do to get my students to that goal, then the individual lessons. 

NOTE – I made the above graphic to show a point; not to show a concrete 1 goal, 2 sub goals, 4 lessons kind of thing k?

Last time we created an example Curriculum Goal: At the end of 3 months, students will be able to demonstrate Mendoza’s strikes & defenses as measured by successfully completing both parts of Mendoza’s Lessons 1 and 2.

Here’s how we can break it down using the visual (again, just an example, not a how to people):

Mendoza strikes & defenses, true & false play1
Mendoza Lesson 1Mendoza Lesson 2
Strikes & DefensesBuild Strikes & Defenses togetherIntro 1,2 combo to various targetsFlow through 1,2 combos

From the visual you can see that we took the main Curriculum Goal and broke it into as many pieces as are needed. In this case, I can break the goal into two fundamental pieces students need to learn to be able to achieve the goal – Mendoza’s first two lessons. Then I look at each mid-level goal and figure out what students need to know to be able to achieve the mid-level goal. 

In other words, you will be using the SWBAT sentence stem from last time2 over and over and over and over:

At the end of {insert time period here} students will be able to {specific goal} as measured by {assessment method}.

At the end of 3 months, students will be able to demonstrate Mendoza’s strikes & defenses as measured by successfully completing both parts of Mendoza’s Lessons 1 and 2.
At the end of 2 lessons, students will be able to properly execute both sides of Lesson 1 drill as measured by visual check.At the end of 2 lessons, students will be able to properly execute both sides of Lesson 2 drill as measured by visual check.
At the end of the lesson, students will be able to properly execute Mendoza’s straight, round, and chipper blows & defenses as measured by visual check.At the end of the lesson, students will be able to properly execute both sides of Lesson 1 drill as measured by visual check.At the end of the lessons, students will be able to properly execute & defend three 1,2 combo’s as measured by visual check.At the end of the lesson, students will be able to properly execute both sides of Lesson 2 drill as measured by visual check.

Lesson Plans

Okay now that we have our goals for individual lessons, how do we actually create a lesson plan? This is a bit of a divisive topic as there are a lot of steps and hoops it looks like beginners need to jump through, but trust me, they are all valuable. When I was doing my grad school work for teaching I was required to write 6 page lesson plans for a 45 minute lesson. It was overkill. But, like drills in martial arts, it was overkill with a point. The point being that all of those 6 pages worth of things I had to think about to make sure I’d filled in every little box are now ingrained in me. 

Here are the components of a successful lesson plan:

  • At the end of this lesson what do I want students walking away knowing how to do & how will I know?
    • This is your SWBAT goal for that lesson.
  • What are the main beats I need to hit today?
    • What key plays or skills do they need to meet the goal.
  • What are the critical components needed?
    • What physical skills are needed?
    • What universal3 skills are needed?
  • How do I need to break those components down into digestible pieces?
    • Drills, drills, drills. Sparring is fun, but drills are how you build skills.
    • Drills are, by design, artificial setups in order to isolate conditions to give you exactly what you want to develop that skill.
  • Know when to correct and when to let slide
    • Not everything needs to be corrected right away. Let people have time to see if they adjust on their own.
    • Learn to see what correction is truly important & won’t overload your student to the point of frustration. Too much information/correction can be bad.
    • The goal of a drill is to make them just frustrated enough to continue working. Not make them want to flip a table & storm out.
  • How do I address the needs of my students?
    • What physical differences do my students have? Are these based on physiology or experience?
    • What mental differences do my students have? Are these based on physiology or experience?
    • How do I address the needs of absolute beginners and more advanced students in this lesson?

Now that your brain has decided to take a break, because that’s a lot of information, take a couple deep breaths. Drop your shoulders. Smile.

Because now is when you have to put all that into practice. First let me give you a present – A Lesson Plan Template

Lesson Plan Template
SWBAT Goal Goes Here
WhatTimeNotes
Warmup(how many minutes depends on length of class)This is your breathing, your calisthenics, your exercises, can also include your footwork.
Skill 1 Drill 1What is your first drill?
Skill 1 Drill 2What is your second drill?
RESTI said what I said. Give people a chance for water, the bathroom, and to let their brains rest. They are learning new info.
Skill 2 Drill 1
Skill 2 Drill 2
REST
Wrap up
Cooldown
Considerations
AssessmentThis can either be done as a drill that shows the ability (Summative4) or can be observed throughout the lesson (Formative5)
AccommodationsFor students who have physical or mental differences, what are you going to do to ensure that they can get as much out of the lesson as the other students.
Slow It DownUh oh, no one gets Drill 1. How are you going to break it down even further for people?
Speed It UpUh oh, everyone has already mastered Drill 1 in 2 minutes. How are you going to expand on the drill to continue to push people?
Classroom ManagementHow is the group going to be organized?Are you working in or just patrolling & observing?How often will partners change?What if you have a left-handed person?How will you address concerns/questions/corrections? How do you ensure the safety of all participants?
Next StepsWhat is this lesson building towards (backwards design remember?)

Obviously I am not a guru so take and adapt as needed for you and your program. That being said, DO NOT SKIP THINGS BECAUSE YOU THINK THEY AREN’T IMPORTANT. I’ve been teaching and making lesson plans for years. My lesson plans do not look like this right now. But that is because these Considerations are now things that I automatically think about when planning; you need to spend the time consciously thinking about these things in order to make them automatic. I hope, by now, that you realize I’m talking about writing lesson plans and curriculum the same way I do about fencing. Because, just like fencing, you need to drill and practice certain skills over and over again until they become ingrained. Teaching is a Science and an Art. The science is what I’ve shown over the last two posts. The art is how YOU teach the material. But that, my dear reader, is for Part 3.

Footnotes

  1. True & False play are terms we take from Wylde, meaning single intention and compound intention actions respectively.
  2. https://www.highdesertarmizare.com/2023/12/03/curriculum-lesson-planning-part-1/
  3. These, as defined by Jim Emmons, are Timing, Measure, Tempo, Speed, Judgement, Initiative, and Tradecraft. https://saladellatrespade.com/2022/09/19/curriculum-building-teaching-via-the-universals/
  4. Summative evaluations/assessments are given at the end of a given learning period in order to assess student knowledge. Think Final Exam.
  5. Formative evaluations/assessments are given (or observed) throughout the given learning period. So rather than a Final Exam I might make a mental note of each student who can consistently complete 3 plays from Fiore’s 5th master of dagger, even if they complete them on different days.
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