A teacher recently messaged me on Facebook to ask advice on the best tool to use to keep track of her daily lesson plans. She described her need as this:
For digital planning I would love something that shows a teacher snapshot of the week then when each lesson or day is clicked then there would be a link to that lesson. The lesson format would include the basic lesson planning standards. What I really need is to make friends with a programmer who can take my thoughts and create something digital from there. I think it would be great to find something that you can write with your finger or a stylus.
There are actually many free tools that can do the first half of what is desired here. For instance:
Each of these could be designed with a relatively brief learning curve to share this sort of content over time.
Often the challenging part is that we start to build before anticipating the long-term value potential of what we are creating, and then design the infrastructure in a manner that doesn’t fit quite right. So it is helpful to think a bit about what would be convenient for immediate needs (tomorrow), short term needs (next week/month), and long-term needs (future school years).
Generally designing for the long-term need should guide the infrastructure. The immediate needs can usually also be met in that format but should not be foremost in your mind. For instance, including dates in online content helps with short term goals but makes materials problematic for long-term goals. So it helps to think of a simple work around for connecting dates and content. An embedded calendar is a good alternative. You can create the daily link to the relevant content in a calendar, but leave the content free of any dates so it is easy to use in future iterations of the course just as easily.
Getting your site to provide the short “blurb” about your content is a design issue related to which template you use and how your construct the materials on the page. Watching a few intro level videos will help you make this happen and once you learn the format it becomes easy to replicate.
One recommendation I have is to recognize that it isn’t always best to build all content within one system. Variety is the spice of life, and plentiful free online materials are available to use.
It helps organizationally to create a teacher-based web page (wiki, weebly, blog, Site etc.) as the main architecture for your lesson plans and work. But individual units, help sheets, assignments etc. are likely better created separately and then embedded into the main teacher web page. For instance, a sixth grade teacher might want her unit on Civic Engagement to be created on a wiki so students can collaboratively author content relative to small group projects. But that doesn’t mean her main web page has to be a wiki. She can host the wiki materials in her main page.
If this makes sense, jump in and have fun. And if this seems like a great idea but overwhelming to do on your own, come join us at St. Kate’s. Both of our MAED programs (Curriculum and Instruction, Technology Integration) will build your skill set in these domains so that you can confidently create for your 21st Century Learners.