I'm not going to be here for the next few weeks as I am off on holiday (I haven't left the country in 6 years, to say I am excited is an understatement!) but regular posting will resume on the 30th August (dependant on jet lag, we land on the 28th). Anyway back to this week….
I told you about an app called Teacher's Attaché that I have been using as my main planning tool since Christmas in a previous post. Although it has been very good, I wanted to be able to use something that I could also access on my computer, as typing on the iPad is not as easy as using a keyboard.
I am also expanding my blog so that I look into Web 2.0 tools as well as apps that are helpful for teachers.
There are several online planning tools you can use, some you have to pay for, some are free. Frustratingly, most of them are centred around the American education system, and have very prescribed lesson plan formats. I will explain a few of the free ones, and show you which one I have decided to trial for the Autumn term.
First we have PlanbookEdu. Their basic plan is free but if you want spellcheck, exporting to PDFs etc. and the ability to attach files to your plans; then you have to pay $25 a year (about £16). You set up a 'Planbook' for the year and set up your classes and lesson times. You can then write lesson plans and assign to classes. To be honest, I found the layout very frustrating to use. It may be that I didn't give it enough time to learn how it works, I wanted something I could pick up much faster.
Then I looked at LessonPlanIT, but I dismissed this quite fast because I couldn't see how it worked, I wanted a guided tour before I committed to registering.
I finally settled on Learnboost, which you can also install as a Chrome extension (if you use Chrome). It's free, works on any platform through a web browser. And most importantly, I liked the layout.
I could import my pupils using CSV files, and I liked the way the 'dashboard' showed my list of classes and schedule for the day. Most importantly it had a detailed demo account that I could play around with before committing to signing up.
Setting up my classes was easy, and I could easily change the start and end times for my lessons.
The class layout enables me to track marking, reporting and attendance. If I wanted to I could even share this information with pupils and parents by setting up parent and pupil accounts. I can decide which information I want included in my lesson plans, so if I don't want to include the American standards then I don't have to!
I am going to trial this planner in the Autumn term, and will report back after I have tested it properly.