This week, we were tasked with finding new ways to streamline our work as educators. I must confess that this is something that has always been problematic for me—just keeping up with the paperwork and many responsibilities that come with teaching four or more preps. Add this to the work of being in grad school, the need to keep up with ever-changing technology, and the desire to have some semblance of a life outside of work, and things can quickly become difficult to keep in balance!
In order to tackle the streamlining of my work to free up “psychological bandwidth” as we heard about this week, I selected two new technologies to experiment with in the classroom. The first is Schoology. This site is a course management system that has both free basic and pay “pro” versions. Our school currently has one, but the district offers little training on how to use it, and it’s very limited in its abilities. Most teachers don’t tap into many of its aspects because it’s just not user friendly. I pretty much just use it for publishing grades. While I’m required to use the district systems for grades and attendance, Schoology allows me to organize materials, create a calendar, add links, create tests/quizzes, etc. In addition, it has numerous apps that you can link into your site! I’m really liking it so far, and I’m building an upcoming unit for each class to roll it out this next week and see how it goes.
The other site that I’m going to use—Planbook.com—is a pay site, but it only costs $12 a year. When I used to work for Omaha Public Schools, their tech folks created an online lesson plan format that made it so easy to create nice typed lessons with standards and other items you could click and include. I loved that because it helped me stay organized, and it was so easy to use. Since that time, I’ve not worked anywhere that offers that kind of ability. Because of this, I decided to try out Planbook.com. I can create and view my lessons anywhere, as it’s web-based. I can also link to standards, let my students see my plans online for those who were absent, attach files and links, print lessons, etc. I think it’s really going to help me stay on top of things!