Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Let's start the school year off right!

Welcome to the new school year! I know for some of you it’s well under way, while for those of us that started after Labor Day it’s only the first full week of school! I’ve been a busy bee getting the new technology training plan established and running for my district, as well as populating our brand new website with lots of great resources for teachers. Returning to the blog is a welcome change of pace and has me excited to share what I’ve learned this summer with you! 

In honor of the start of the school year and the return of the lesson plan, I thought I would highlight one of the weekly technology challenges I am offering for staff at school. It is all about using Google Calendar for lesson planning.

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One of the best practices in education is the idea of keeping clear lesson plans that can be accessed and edited from year to year. Not to mention, some districts and schools require that teachers keep a record of their lesson plans for at least one year and some even require they be submitted at the conclusion of the school year. Regardless of your requirements, Google Calendar provides an easy to use interface for saving lesson plans in a sequential and searchable fashion.

I've created a brief tutorial on how to set-up a lesson planning calendar using your Google account. This is possible using your personal Google account or a school account if your school is a Google Apps for Education school/district.

While this tutorial will assist you in setting up a lesson plan for your own personal use, there are a multitude of ways to harness the collaborative power of Google to expand the usefulness of your calendar. Check them out below:

  • Scope and Sequence: Create one calendar to use as your pacing guide and share it with all applicable colleagues. It will serve as an overlay when you are working on your lesson plans instead of having to get out the charts and documents for all subject areas each time.
  • Team Planning/Co-Teaching: If you work on a team that works off similar or unified lesson plans OR if you share a teaching role or class with a fellow teacher, a shared Google Calendar would be very helpful. You could use it to plan together or to post where you left off in a particular lesson so that your colleague knows where to pick up.
  • Home-School Connection: If you would like your students' parents to have a better understanding of their child's school schedule or what they are learning, you might post your lesson plan calendar to your class website or make the link available for parents to subscribe to the calendar.
  • Classroom Visitors: As teachers, we are all accustomed to our principals and other school or district administrators and visitors dropping by our rooms to observe, pull students, or simply ask a question. While I have never minded classroom visits, they somehow always seem to fall at transition moments or when my students are at specials! Well, if you were to make your lesson plan calendar viewable within your district or school then these individuals could easily check to see when you are teaching and not teaching, as well as when a particular subject or lesson is being taught. 

If you have another use for Google Calendar for lesson planning, I (and other readers) would love to hear about! Feel free to share!