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 found there are several major perks to digital planning.
1. Sub plans are pretty much ready to go!
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.
2. I actually referred to this document the following year.
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.
3. I was accountable for what was taught and what was learned.
I had a record of what lessons worked and could remove lessons that needed to go with a tap on the delete key.
4. I was prepared for anyone to walk through the door.
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!
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.