Skip this post if you’re not a teacher. I know most of my readers are runners, but a few of you are teachers, so I wanted to share this idea. For non-teachers, this post is going to be VERY long and VERY boring. Heck, it might even be boring for teachers, but I had fun writing it.
One of the reasons the blog is called “Running on Fumes” is because I feel like I am, always, running on fumes. In order to balance family, working full time, running, and Facebook (haha), I need to be organized. I have “plans” for loads of things: meals (you’ve seen those), laundry, Evan’s homework time, letting out the dog, etc. Maybe “schedule” is a better word. For example, I check my e-mail, blogs, and/or Facebook in the morning while I eat breakfast. Until 6:55. At 6:55, I head to the bathroom to do my hair and make-up. If I’m not finished eating by that time (usually I am), then I take my cereal and coffee in there with me.
It should come as no surprise, then, that at work, I have plans, too. All teachers have lesson plans, of course, so that’s nothing remarkable. Lesson planning can be very time consuming, though. Back when I first started teaching eleven years ago, I learned that typing out lesson plans was the way to go. There are two main reasons I prefer typing them vs. using the typical lesson plan books: 1) I can type WAY faster than I can write, and 2) It’s much easier to make changes/move things around. By hand, you’d have to erase and re-write, but on the computer, I can just copy and paste. I’ve been typing lesson plans on a very simple spreadsheet since my first year of teaching. I use them right off the computer now, but I used to have a principal that wanted them on our desk at all times, so I’d print them off and put them in a three-ring binder.
Last year, I attended a training in which we learned to use Google docs. I certainly am not a pioneer here–Google docs have been around forever. Now, my lesson plans are on a Google spreadsheet. I can log into my school Google account from anywhere and work on my plans (or any other thing I’m working on). I LOVE it. I can also share documents with others, but I will get to that in another post. Today, I want to talk about my lesson plans.
Here is my blank “template” worksheet for my lesson plans. It already contains all of the formatting and formulas I need. There are a few things typed in already because I do the same thing most weeks on those days. Click the images to view them larger in another window.
To start a new week, I simply duplicate this “blank” worksheet and rename it as the date of the Monday of that week (or first school day). You can duplicate worksheets by clicking the little arrow next to the worksheet title. Once you create the copy, you click the same little arrow on your copied worksheet to rename it.
This year, we are starting to use the Common Core. My district is just in the beginning stages and I am not expected to be labeling my plans with them yet. However, I know myself–if I don’t force myself to use the standards, I won’t learn them. They will just sit on my desk in the pile of “read in my free time” stuff. Except I really don’t have free time at work so that stuff rarely gets touched. If I want to learn something, I need to just dive in and do it. If I spend too much time jumping on the end of the diving board and thinking about diving, it just gets more and more intimidating. I need to dive in before I have time to think much about it. By the time I realize how overwhelming and scary it is, I will have already taken the plunge. So, I am going to start labeling my plans this year with the standards.
It didn’t take me long on Google to find an Excel version of the English-Language Arts (ELA) Common Core. I was able to import that into a Google spreadsheet and then slap it right onto my lesson plans worksheet. I duplicated it three times and now I have actually four worksheets at the bottom of my plans for the Common Core: one 7th grade, one 8th grade, one 6-10 (the grades above and below mine) and one K-12. This way, I can easily click back and forth to those without opening an additional document. I deleted the info I didn’t need on those worksheets–for example, on the 7th grade one, I deleted everything but 7th grade standards. It’s so much easier to have a page of just one grade level at a time when you’re trying to label lesson plans.
To the right of each lesson, there are three standards boxes. The reason there are three is because most lessons/activities incorporate more than one standard, and I did not want to put more than one standard in each cell. I’ll explain why in a bit. When I click on one of the little “standards” cells, there is a little arrow to the top right of it. By clicking on that, I can view a list of all of the standards for my subject area at that grade level. They aren’t all showing here–the list scrolls. I did this by right-clicking the cells and using “conditional formatting”. Then, I selected a drop-down list and for the range, I selected the standards on the appropriate grade-level worksheet that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
One problem I am still trying to figure out is that my drop-down list isn’t wide enough, and I can’t read enough of the standards. Some of them start in such similar ways I can’t differentiate. So, as cool as that drop-down list is, I usually end up going straight to the standards worksheet I’ve created for that grade level and copying and pasting the standards instead. Here’s what the seventh-grade ELA standards page looks like. You can see all of my other worksheets there across the bottom.
Here are my final lesson plans with all of the standards filled in. Clearly, the cells themselves just show the numbers of the standards, but if you click on those cells, the full standard shows in the bar at the top of the screen. Here, it says: “Research to Build and Present Knowledge…”
I will admit, it did take me a few hours to set this all up and create my first set of plans. However, it is going to take less time every week from here on out. It will be as simple as making another duplicate of the “blank” worksheet for next week and typing in my plans for the week, just as I’ve been doing the last eleven years. Adding the standards will become less time consuming as I get them memorized. I’ll also be able to use my drop-down list more then too, because it won’t take me long to remember which standard is which number if I use them weekly.
Here’s the cool part: at the end of the quarter (or more frequently), I’ll be able to create a new worksheet with a function that will allow me to tabulate how many times I’ve taught each standard. Then, I can look at what I still need to teach and what I’m overteaching. This is the reason I didn’t want more than one standard per cell–I wanted it to tabulate each standard separately. My nerdy teacher freak flag is flying high.
If you have done something cool with your lesson plans and/or the Common Core, I’d LOVE to hear about it! If you’d like more info on what I did here, I’d be happy to explain in more detail if you have questions.
Happy lesson planning!