One probably would not think that a 20 year veteran of the teaching profession would still be struggling with lesson planning. But, I am. Not so much the actual construction and delivery of the plan itself; I got that cold. On the other hand, my current struggle is the method of documenting what I do, and how I do it.
I have used:
•Plan books provided by the school
•Plan books purchased by me
•Planbook software by Hellmansoft – which I used for several years, and which, for the most part, I liked. However, with all of the updates, some coming on a weekly basis, the need to set it up anew each school year, the incompatibility of the scheduling/class options with those of my place of employ, and features that I neither needed nor used, it became an expense which, in the end, didn’t pay for itself. In fact, several years after purchasing the online version for $30.00, I was unable to update it for whatever reason, which led me to having to purchase the software again – for $30.00 - as a Mac application. Additionally, customer service was sometimes wanting, due to it being a one-man operation run and maintained by a classroom teacher, which didn’t always work for me when I had issues and questions I needed answered sooner rather than later.
• Spriral notebooks
• Loose-leaf lined paper in notebook binders with tabs
•On-line Word docs
•Google Docs -which can operate rather sluggishly, and go down unexpectedly
•Elaborate lesson plan templates
•Elaborate lesson plan templates for foreign language in particular
•A combination of a spiral notebook and Post-It Notes – which, on its face, seemed like the way to go, but actually turned into a logistical nightmare for me in terms of daily management, having to re-construct the pages every week, and financial outlay in terms of Post-It Notes, which over time could become expensive. Also, the Post-It Notes simply did not provide me with enough space for the sort of information I typically record. What was I thinking?!?
So, I am now back to using Word Docs, and maintaining the lesson plans in folders for each class on my desktop. I simply type the class, the date, and the communication and culture goals for the day. I make sure that I include at least one activity for each skill – listening, speaking, reading and writing – as well as grammar, which is not only explicitly presented, but which is also embedded in one or more of the aforementioned skills. I also try to include some sort of culture reference related to the unit/theme being studied, as well as a warm-up and closure activity. This is the sort of information that cannot be recorded on a Post-It Note. I teach an 85-minute block two days per week, and a 70-minute block one day per week. I don’t have to worry about customer service issues, replenishing Post-It Notes, or the system going down, since a Word doc can be constructed off-line.
So, for now, I am satisfied. On the other hand, I am contemplating Evernote, and was intrigued by this teacher’s experiences.