It’s only the beginning of February, but the winter weather has caused several snow days in my district. This used to mean lots of time devoted to erasing and re-writing my lesson plans by hand. Not anymore! Now that I am using an online lesson planner, writing (and revising) lesson plans has never been so easy. Let me tell you how this is a game-changer and why I will never go back to handwritten lesson plans again!
There Once Was a Girl…
When I was a little girl in elementary school, my mom taught 7th grade. One year she gave me an unused teacher plan book. This was back in the 70’s so it had a fake leather cover and a wire coil binding. Inside were large squares for the different sections in a teaching day. I was in heaven! My own teacher plan book! I diligently wrote my “lesson plans” in my best handwriting and imagined the day when I would be a “for-real” teacher. (Side note – trying to convince the other kids in your neighborhood to “play school” is no way to win a popularity contest! Ha!)
Custom-Designed, but Tedious
Fast forward 20 years and my dreams of being a teacher were finally realized. Being the organized soul that I am, I quickly made my own lesson plan templates in Word and later PowerPoint. I did this for years and was proud of how my custom-designed lesson plans functioned. And yet…I still had to hand-write my lessons. Also, they only looked good if I had plenty of time that week to add all the little details I (and possibly a sub) would need for them to truly be useful. Factor in the inevitable last-minute changes and my lesson plans were losing a lot of their effectiveness!
Thanks to being part of the Upper Elementary Educators group on Facebook (see this post for more information on why you should be part of this amazing group), I learned about an online lesson planner available at Planbook. Literally, dozens of teachers raved about how much using this website saved them time. Save time? That got my attention. I went to this lesson planning website and it was love at first sight! Just like when my mom gave me that old plan book only in digital form! Cue the angelic choir singing, “Hallelujah!”
Better Plans in Less Time
Please know that I am not receiving any type of compensation from Planbook. These are simply my opinions and experiences with using this online lesson planner. I think the benefits are so exceptional that it’s worth sharing on my blog in the hopes that this will eventually lead to better lesson plans in less time for other teachers. That being said, here’s how I got started…
The first 30 days of using Planbook are free. If you convince more of your friends to join you, they will give you even more free time. After that, you will pay an annual fee of $15. Please…I spend more on fonts at Teachers Pay Teachers! (Speaking of fonts, you can download all those cute fonts to Planbook. Yes!) Go to their YouTube channel and watch the videos about setting up your account. It’s super-easy. I managed to get everything set up AND create my entire week complete with custom templates in less than a day. Oh, and don’t forget to download the free app to your smartphone.
Benefits of Using an Online Lesson Planner
This lesson planning website came highly recommended to me by other teachers who have used it for years. That was a big reason why I looked into Planbook. But here are the reasons why I went ahead and paid my $15 fee.
- custom-design your own weekly lesson plans with templates
- save your lesson plans and use them next year without having to write them out by hand
- lots of editing options with fonts and colors
- easy sharing options lets you keep everyone “in the loop” about your lesson plans even when you change or revise them – my special education colleagues and student teacher love this feature
- make revisions quickly and easily when you need to change your lesson plans for unexpected events, snow days, or just because Tuesday didn’t go quite the way you had planned
- the app means you can access your lesson plans basically anywhere at anytime – I have literally revised my plans while laying in bed in the morning before school started that day!
- if school is canceled due to snow, just click the “bump lesson” – it’s easy to shift your lessons around
- connect your lessons to standards and strategies using the numerous databases available
- attach files from the Internet or your computer; they can even link documents from your Google Drive
You can keep writing your lesson plans by hand, or you can start using an online lesson planner. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Planbook – there are lots of other lesson planning websites available to consider. My only regret is that I didn’t start using this system before 2019! Do you use an online lesson planner? Share your favorite and why you love it in the comments below. Happy Teaching! ~ Sally