Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators

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Get organized with an online planbook

I switched from a paper teacher planbook to a digital version a few years ago because it just worked better for me. When I made the switch, I looked into various websites, programs, and apps but none really stood out to me.  I eventually created my own Google Doc.

This was a great solution for me because it was always readily available, and I could make changes to my plans when things arise without having to cross out or erase and rewrite. I know there are quite a few teachers out there who use Google Docs for this purpose and are very happy with it. There are others who use Google Calendar, and they’re happy with that.

I was doing some curriculum work the other day and noticed a few colleagues planning out their first week in a paper planbook, and it motivated me to take another look at some digital alternatives again. After all, it had been a few years, and new products were always being developed. I found an article that recommends eleven online software and apps for lesson planning and used that as my starting point.

Most of the digital planbooks in the list have a free and paid version, though some were paid only. I focused on just the free versions. If you’re interested in trying out an online planbook, I encourage you to check out the list for yourself. I ruled some out due to a lack of features or because I just didn’t like the interface.

My Recommendation

Out of the the eleven online planbooks, I have decided to use Common Curriculum.

The Common Curriculum planbook has a lot of features available to teachers for free. You can create multiple classes, attach unlimited files, and connect each lesson to specific standards. For the science teachers reading this, you can link lessons to both the new and old standards! My favorite feature is you can customize your lesson templates to make it as simple or detailed as you like. Each element of a lesson plan is a “card” that can be moved to a different part of the lesson or even to different day. Entire lessons can also be moved around in case things pop up, like snow days.

There are two additional features that made Common Curriculum really stand out to me. First, it has some cool collaboration features for teachers. With the free version, you can create a group and share your planbook with your colleagues. This would be great for teams, especially if they are doing any type of interdisciplinary work, departments, and for the special education/ELL teachers and aides.

The other cool feature is you can make various parts of each lesson plan publicly viewable on a website that can then be shared with students and parents. You may not want to share the standards or any accommodations, but you could show them the agenda, materials, and homework for instance. When a student is absent and asks you what they missed, point them to this website!

If you currently use an online planbook or plan on trying one out this year, feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts!