PlanbookEdu

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Paperwork.  We’re always doing paperwork.  Teachers are, by far, no exception.  There is paperwork before and after units, as well as the day-to-day lessons.

How much time does writing out lessons in your lesson plan book take?  Hours, I bet.  PlanbookEdu has a great 21st century, web 2.0 solution to lesson plan books drudgery.

Now don’t get me wrong—PlanbookEdu won’t eliminate the need for lesson plans or aligning them with Common Core and/or State Standards.  But what it does do is cut hours off your time writing it all down.

In their own words, PlanbookEdu is “the simpler, smarter lesson planner.”  Why?  “Your lesson plans are available anywhere and are simple to create.”  How simple?  All within the word processing-like editor for each lesson you can “attach files, Common Core Standards, print, export to Word or PDF”.  You can:

Oh, and if you have re-occurring lessons or activities (i.e. reading workshop, writer’s workshop, etc), just a couple of clicks after you type in your lesson will lead being able to repeat something without having to write it over and over and over and over and over again.

There is a small caveat.  Not all of it is free.  On PlanbookEdu‘s homepage, there is comparison chart of what is available with a free account and what features are only available through the measly $25/year premium account.  At first you’re probably thinking, $25?  No thanks, I’ll pass.  Before you do, did you:

  1. Realize that $25 is per YEAR, not month
  2. Calculate how much money do you spend on a lesson plan book?  About $10/book?  So it’s about the cost of 2 books plus tax.
  3. Look at what you’re getting for $25/year…the ability to attach documents, share your plan book, collaborate with other colleagues (and have one book!), embed your plan book on your website, printing and exporting capabilities.

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    Word Processing-Like Editor

So while it is true that you have to pay for the best parts about PlanbookEdu, you can still can create your own plan books, access them from anywhere (including your iPad and iPhone), and the ability to set the class rotations (i.e. A/B days).  And just in case you were on the fence about whether or not you might use these additional features, PlanbookEdu gives you an initial, free, 14-Day trial of the premium account.  Yup, just long enough for you to get used it, fall completely eraser over pencil tip in love with the features, but not long enough for you to change your mind.  Sneaky!

I’ve only had the account one day and I’m already planning on purchasing the premium account.  As a student teacher, I love the fact that I can embed my calendar onto my website and have the University and school staff who are observing me have my whole calendar in front of them.  It’s embedded into a page on my class Weebly site (which I have changed my mind on my opinion of Weebly), and they can quickly and easily see the Common Core benchmarks I am working on that day, download any documents they may need, and not have to feel like s/he is pestering me for the documents ahead of time.

But just like all technology, some things just aren’t as private as they used to be.  There are security measures I can turn on both at PlanbookEdu and on Weebly; however, I am striving for simplicity for those who are evaluating me.  Thus, I cannot put “pop quizzes” that I plan to give on PlanbookEdu because it is open to all.  I can restrict it by email address on Weebly (but that requires a pro account and I do not feel the need to pay Weebly for that service.  I can work around it) or I can password protect my plan book on PlanbookEdu and put certain email address on an “allow” list.

So my three choices are

  1. Pay Weebly and password protect the page the plan book is embedded on
  2. Pay PlanbookEdu for a premium account, restrict access (vs. open access) to my plan book, and write down the email addresses of those who I will allow access to it.
  3. Do nothing and figure out another plan.

I have chosen Bachelor Number 3.  I have formal unit plans and lesson plans that are very detailed.  The one downfall of all of those lesson plans is that I am unable to get a “week-at-a-glance” big picture when I’m swamped down explaining every detail of every activity.  But if I combine the strengths of both PlanbookEdu and my elaborate Word document unit and lesson plans, I can get the best of both.  The premium account lets me print directly from my browser to have a “week-at-a-glance” printed out and on my desk.  I can then make some handwritten changes on it as the lessons progress and then changed them on the plan book.  Most likely, since the high school has wireless internet, I’ll be able to change the lesson right there on my iPad.

There is so much more I could explore: bumping lesson from one day to the next due to unforeseen circumstances.  Curious as to what the embedded plans look like?  Check below to see my embedded lesson plans for my student teaching.  Another option is to see what it looks like on my class Weebly site.

**Please note.  I no longer have a subscription to PlanbookEdu so my embedded plans are “invalid”.  I have left the embedded frame here to illustrate that they can be embedded.**

Do you have a shared and/or embedded plan book from PlanbookEdu?  Comment with the link and I’ll definitely check it out.  Do you use another plan book website?  Sound off your opinion in the comments!

Weebly and the Class Website

As I wind down my English Language Learners tutoring in preparation for student teaching, I have come to realize most of my student resources are for ESL/ELL students.  I have also come to realize that using Moodle for keeping resources available to students will no longer be my best option.  Additionally, I have found that my tutoring students rarely logged into Moodle.  I want to make class and English/Language Arts resources available to all my students as well as all high school students in the world.  I’ve heard some good things about Weebly, a website that makes website developing and blog posting easy, and its market towards classroom websites.  So I’ve spent some time re-working my Moodle database and learning Weebly.

In my opinion, Weebly is great for someone who needs something to look professional, who has no idea what s/he is doing, and needs a blog-like format.  But for me, Weebly just doesn’t work for my needs as classroom website.

Weebly can effectively integrate blog and standard webpages.  You can have a static homepage and contact page, but a dynamic blog for each class.  If you utilize Weebly to its full potential, students and teachers can log in and interact, posting videos and content from iPhones.  You can have the site hosted on Weebly’s servers or you can buy your own domain for your Weebly-built site.  There are tons of “you can do this or that” with Weebly.  But when you really look at it, what Weebly offers is a ton of “services” but the user-experience and customization is limited.  And that’s its downfall for me.  I may use Weebly in the future for a class blog, but for the purposes of a class website where I can list resources upon resources?  I’ll keep searching.

Browsing for resources will be difficult.  Students don’t want to scroll and scroll down long pages.  Thus, I’ll either have to eliminate resources or create pages upon pages and I just don’t think that it’s practical.  I want to be able to create modules that can have links to documents to download as well as other websites without having so much space in between (take a look at what I mean).

I am also restricted to their customizations.  Sure, I have quite a bit of breathing room to change out pictures and choose from over 30ish templates–but that’s only 30 templates.  I’m used to having a bit more freedom when I use Dreamweaver.  Sure, I love clicking a button and having all the code done for me (it saves hours, maybe even days in the long run), but I’ve run into a few instances where I wanted to deleted something or move something to the left or right and I was unable to do so.  I became frustrated quickly with titles in particular as well as modules not moving to where I wanted them to go.

In essence, Weebly is great for a class blog, but not for a class website which typically is more of a database of resources.

Check out my “work in progress” Weebly/Class Website.