So, a little background- as a first year teacher, I tried several different ways to plan. I started with the traditional lesson plan book with squares and quickly realized that I needed a little more structure in my planning, so I tried creating my own form. I went through several of these. Each was great in it's own way- no problem with false modesty here ;)- but it just wasn't a good fit for me.
By the middle of the school year, I finally settled on a Teacher Planner that was based on David Allen's theory of Getting Things Done... a truly great productivity book, if you're so inclined... a bit of a cult following. At any rate, it did the trick for my first year.
As I became more comfortable with my curriculum in my second year, I found that I wanted my plans to go a bit deeper. I didn't have enough room to mark the standards, include videos, or note that I wanted to utilize some incredible online resource.... the hunt for the perfect planner was on again. Now, I love me a good binder- something about all of the colorful tabs just warms my heart, but I wanted to be able to complete and view my plans entirely online.
Let's face it, I would often have my planner out on my desk, wander off around the room with it, and then be frantically searching for the book 20 minutes later. I was tired of it. Furthermore, there's nothing worse than sitting down to plan and realizing that your lesson plan book is at home, in your car, in your classroom.... basically anywhere that you are not.
Each of these sources had some pros and merits, but eventually, I made the decision to stick with Planbook.com.
With Planbook.com, I can create a template for my classroom schedule. Now, I know that this is organization sacrilege, but I do not color code. It's just not my thing. Personally, I feel like it takes up way too much energy. That being said, for those of you that are so inclined, Planbook does allow users to create a color coded plan :) No worries there! Also- I feel like I should mention that this process is really, really easy!
Now, here are a few specific reasons for my passionate love of Planbook.com:
I love that I can see, at a glance, my entire week's lesson plans! It is oh-so-handy!
The other added benefit is that, if necessary, I can zoom in and see just one day at a time... it's also easy to print the lessons. I don't really do it unless I have a substitute teacher in my room, but it's an option! Also, I can add notes regarding lessons or just information during the week.
File Attachments- Honestly, I don't ever go back and look at my lesson plans from the previous years. I am way too random and I love the process of re-evaluating and restructuring my plans to match my new kiddos every year, so I don't actually take the time to attach files. I can see how this would be extremely beneficial though!
Hyperlinks- this is a feature that I use ALL of the time. I can add a hyperlink directly into my lesson plans so that I don't have to go bookmark the activity or find the specific video again online.
Templates- with templates, I can add a plan structure for my day. For instance, in math, I utilize a pretty rigid structure for my block. I have the ability to add the structures and routines directly into the schedule.
Notes- Awww... this is truly where Planbook.com shines. Sub plans. I will be talking a bit more about sub planning later this week, but Planbook allows you to create "notes" for each class that you can customize and hide in the planner. If I have a guest teacher, I simply select the notes feature and all of the details about managing my classroom are added into my plans according to the day's schedule and time. BEAUTIFUL for those nights where you wake up horribly ill and just can't pull it all together.
Finally, they have AWESOME customer support! Seriously, if I ever have any issues, they are extremely helpful and responsive. I love supporting entrepreneurs that truly care about their products and customers.
Now, if you are interested in looking into another online planbook option, my girl Jennifer over at Darling Little Learners posted a great review of PlanbookEdu's services. I think that she really enjoyed it... After using both for a while, I just happen to prefer Planbook!
Also, be sure to get registered for my Pretty Much Paperless Planning Giveaway!