Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Online Lesson Planning

From what I can tell from Instagram, my school year started off as crazy as everyone else’s: back to school classroom prep, getting to know you activities, beginning of the year assessments, launching Daily 5 and CAFÉ, as well as guided math, data collection and analysis oh, and lesson planning, too.

So many teachers are passionate about their planners, whether they’re lesson planners or life planners. I was once one of those teachers (I am a list-maker at heart, after all).

But as we continue to move into the digital age, I have let so much of my dependence on pencil-and-paper become less of a necessity. So much so that I can easily carry my iPhone, hereafter referred to as My Life, around with me in a 6”x1.5” purse. If I can’t do it with My Life, I won’t do it.

I can even post on my blog using an app.

I should mention upfront that I realize digital lesson planning is not for everyone, which is why we’re all unique (see what I did there?). If you’re intrigued by the notion of online lesson planning, keep reading. If your heart is set against it, you can stop right here. I’m not trying to convince you, but merely make you aware of its possibilities.

I used to keep a notebook by my bed and vanity so that I could jot down notes to myself as I thought of them (my memory has never been very good!). Now, I simply use My Life to send myself an email, create a Reminder, or add my ideas to my Notes app. #mylife

The same is true for lesson planning. As adorable as so many lesson planners are, I felt encumbered by its very existence. I’d have to bring it with me to my meetings, along with my laptop where I could access my Google calendar that I’ve been using for a few years now. It would come home with me, and then back to school again. I used a three-ring binder for my planner so that I could easily remove or move any pages, but that meant it wouldn’t fit in my laptop bag. #plannerfree

Another disadvantage to a paper planner is if I planned too far ahead, and an unexpected event interfered somehow, I’d have to readjust my plans manually. Not fun. My motivation for long-term planning went way down, but my stress at not feeling prepared went up. #aintnobodygottimeforthat

I now use the website Planboard to write, organize and share my lesson plans. I have tried other sites, but this one is intuitive to my needs. I will share out its features in detail in a later post, but first I’d like to introduce you to the idea of online planning.
Just as I carry My Life with me in my purse, I also carry My Plans around with me wherever I bring my laptop (which is just about everywhere). Which means I can do my lesson planning wherever I am, even if it’s in the dentist’s waiting room. Or at the DMV. #worstplacestowait

And when carrying my laptop is undesirable, I whip out my iPad, because, you guessed it, There’s an App for That! Planboard has an app that performs very similarly to the online version, so the platforms look the same. Moving between the two is not complicated. #itsnotcomplicated

For both methods, an internet connection is required, but keep in mind that I have My Life with me wherever I go. Did someone say Personal Hotspot? #easypeasy

One of my favorite benefits that Planboard offers is its sharing feature. I can print my lessons, create a PDF of them, or email them to a colleague. If you are lucky enough to know your sub’s email address, you can send her your lesson plans ahead of time. What could be more efficient?

I’ll post later on the specific features I’ve found useful on Planboard, but if you have a moment, check it out for yourself and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts!