For years and years, I used the typical spiral-bound teacher plan books. You know, the kind the district gives you at the beginning of each school year with pages and pages of square boxes to fill in. I kept them too, year after year, squirreled away just in case I needed to refer to them while I was planning my current year’s curriculum. Finally, one day, while cleaning out my desk and staring at a stack of planners from years gone by, a thought occurred to me. What am I doing? What a waste of time, effort, and paper! There has to be a better way!
I realized that these planners didn’t even fit my schedule. I was always trying to cram an extra square into the grid or squeeze in a class here or there. Also, with a subject like art, I ended up writing the same lesson over and over again, because you rarely teach something just once. Now, lets talk about what I had actually recorded. You would have to be a cryptic sleuth to be able to decipher what I had scrawled in each box. Could this possibly be best practice? No way!
I decided, then and there, that I needed to go digital! I designed a simple template to use each week, with my schedule and my needs in mind. (Feel free to download a copy of my template below.) I color-coded each grade level, kept one box for lesson planning, and used the bottom box for integrating the “I CAN” target statements that my district required.
Every Friday I would re-visit my weekly schedule and add changes or notes for each lesson while it was fresh in my mind. I would also create a new set of plans for the following week. I labeled and saved each week in folders. I broke my folders down into quarters because that worked with my grading objectives, but you could do it many different ways.
If you would like to download my template (in a Word Doc) to modify yourself to use for digital lesson planning, you can do so by clicking the image below. Prefer a PDF version? Download a blank PDF by clicking right here. I hope you find it useful.
I don’t know about you, but I spend a TON of time writing sub plans. So much time that I rarely request a sub, just because it is easier not to. I could NEVER have handed a sub my spiral-bound planner and expected him or her to understand anything, but with this method, the nuts and bolts of the lesson are already recorded and easy to read.
I had a place to start. I could tweak the plans as I went, but I had a framework already developed. The first year does take the most time, but after that, it is just a matter of adding notes and making changes.
I had a record of what lessons worked and could remove lessons that needed to go with a tap on the delete key.
Principal? Department head? Interested parent? Check, check check. With digital plans, I had an easily-accessible document that supported what I was doing in the classroom.
What are other ways you are using technology to manage lesson planning?
Share your method with us today in the comments!