I haven’t much time to discuss the image below but wanted to share something I am doing this first week, which I cannot yet promise to keep up but is showing promising benefits for me and those with whom I collaborate at school. I wanted to create a lesson plan template online that I could share and use to collaborate with my colleague Melissa for our senior class. What I settled on (so far) was using Google Sheets, which is Google’s version of Microsoft Excel. This whole planning question and conundrum has been on my mind because of an article I am writing for the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and also because of the great blogs Grant Wiggins has been writing about this issue of planning lately.
It is not beautiful and lacks so much of the functionality I am used to and really prefer, but the template structure and the ability to track my lessons as something of a narrative from day to day, as well as the ease of returning to make some brief notes or add some links, compensate me in utility for what I lose in aesthetics.
To make full sense of it, you need to consider that each column is a day’s lesson plan and prints out with about a 2″ margin on the right, which turns out to be pretty useful for making additional notes (about what went wrong and why, of course). The image below is a bit deceptive: you need to imagine it is one continuous page. The value, however, comes from being able to track my teaching across the days, as one might a narrative, asking what happens next? How does Wednesday relate to Tuesday, and so on. Also, having this set up and at the ready, I can jump in and make notes throughout the day or while preparing to write up the actual lesson plan, so it becomes a useful drafting and notetaking space, with the full functionality of hotlinks to other resources I might then want to use. I am using this in conjunction with my iPad Mini on which I use Notabilia.
For what it’s worth, thanks to the recommendations of fellow teacher-author Kristin Ziemke, I have been using two new stylus pens that I like best of all that I have tried so far: The Adonit Jot Pro and the 53 Pencil, though I like and use them for different purposes.
I chose Notability over all others, many of which (e.g., NotesPlus, Moleskine) I like better overall, because its sidebar navigation allows me in front of the class to avoid wasting time moving around within the app to find other images or pages with content. In other words, Notability works more efficiently and thus effectively than the others when it comes to teaching in front of 35 kids.
Here is the screen shot of the first three days of lesson plans using this very 1.0 version of the design tool: