Monday, December 29, 2014

Lesson Planning with Google Calendar

I've done lesson planning about a dozen different ways in my 10 years of teaching - and my favorite and current way of planning is by using the Calendar application. As you can see in the picture, each activity for a given day is one of the pink boxes that shows up. In these boxes (technically they are "events") I can write as little or as much detail as I want.  Typically I just write a little bit: "Notes on Solving by Quadratic Formula" for instance. For assignments I write something simple like "Assign: Pg 189 #1, 2, 10-26evens" or "Assign: Worksheet - Multiplication".

These calendars are super easy to move items around, copy from year to year, assign over multiple days, etc. I have created four Google calendars, one for each class that I teach. These Google calendars then can be embedded into my class website.  Then students and parents can know at a glance what were studying not only this week, but they can look forward to days when they may be gone, or look back to days they've missed.  I have had on more than one occasion students who have come in after being sick and instead of asking "did I miss anything" they hand me their homework which they found on the calendar.

Whenever possible, I put links to helpful material into these events as well. This was the biggest challenge, but something a little html knowledge proves handy for. To add a link to something, you double click on the event and type into the "Add a note" section. You may type text descriptions with more details here and students will be able to read these by clicking for more details on their calendars.  Adding URL's sounds easy at first, but unfortunately, simply pasting a link into the "Add URL" section doesn't work. Perhaps this will be fixed someday? A work around that allows a clickable link to appear on the student end of things is to use a little HTML code. Copy and paste following code snippit:
  <a href = "URLgoeshere">Text goes here</a>
One thing to look out for is to make sure that your computer doesn't turn " into "smart quotes" -- because then the links won't work. I had to turn "smart quotes" off in system preferences. In addition to downloadable worksheets as assignments, I include links to quizlet vocabulary practice, math practice websites like ThatQuiz, or videos of my lessons whenever they are available.  A colleague of mine records every lesson every day, and since this year we share Algebra 2 together, I include links to her videos on youtube. I tell the students that if they don't like the way I explain something, or if they need another explanation, they can check the calendar and find Mrs. Straayer's videos.

One last plug for planning with google calendars is that students and parents can subscribe to them, and then they can have them show up on either their computers or phones. Anytime I make an update, they will have access to the most up to date plans.  This is really convenient when a snow day or something arises -- I can simply cut and paste today's events to tomorrow.  I have mine connected to my phone so I can either see what's coming up from anywhere -- or add a note or link or change something from everywhere on my phone.

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