July 12, 2018

4 Time-Saving Hacks for Lesson Planning

It's almost time for school to start back up and that means designing engaging and purposeful lessons that your students will remember and retain. Sounds dreamy, right? I think I can speak for most teachers when I say that we don't have time for every lesson to be detailed and perfect. I know I don't! Here are the 4 time-saving hacks for lesson planning that help me year after year to remain organized and prepared but without wasting hours each week.

We are living in the digital age, y'all. I absolutely ADORE those beautiful teacher planners and calendars and teacher binders and have wound up purchasing them... and never touching them. I know some people are different than me in this aspect, but every time I use a physical plan book, I leave it at home or at school when I need it, I misplace it, and get upset that my handwriting isn't beautiful. Those are my silly reasons, but they just don't work for me!

I originally started simply typing up my lesson plans on an Excel spreadsheet, but then I would lose my flash drive or forget to email myself something. Therefore, I moved to Planbook.org and then finally to Google Drive. I love the weekly templates you can easily create in Planbook and that you can add standards right in with the drop down menus. However, I wanted something I could personalize a bit more and that was easier to share with my team.

Google Drive is the answer for me. You can find tons of calendar and planning templates available to enter and edit directly in Google Drive. You can have shared folders like I do above, where teammates can access and edit along with you. And as long as you have internet connection, you can access it. No more notebooks and flash drives to worry about losing. This has saved me time by being completely editable and has saved me many headaches of misplacing/losing my physical lesson plans. This has also been a BREEZE to turn in my lesson plans at the end of the year which is the requirement of my district. If you are working in a district that requires seeing your lesson plans weekly or daily, simply link them to your digital plans!

I am lucky enough to have an interactive white board in my classroom. However, I only just received it in March of 2018 so I understand if this bullet point does not apply to you. If you use Smart Notebook for your Smart Board, this is an awesome tip for you that will save you time and will make your day move so smoothly. At the start of the year, create a daily Smart Board template. I put an image on each slide that shows that part of the day. For example, when students walk in, the page displayed says, "Morning Work" at the top and every morning, I simply type what their morning work is.

That "Morning Work" is part of my daily template saved directly onto my school desktop. Following that page is a page that says "Morning Meeting." Once students see the page change, they put their things away and come to the carpet. This is all quiet and practiced. Any information I want displayed for the Morning Meeting, I simply type right into it. This originally started for me as the OPPOSITE of a time-saving hack. I will tell you, that it takes some time to get used to and some playing around to get it the way you want it. But once the students are used to it and you are accustomed to inputting all the pieces you want to show, it is AMAZING and will make your day flow so smoothly.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Sometimes our curriculum leaves a lot to be desired. I get it. We all strive to be that perfect teacher with the supplies ready and color coded with lots of fun where students are creating and moving and discussing. But listen... sometimes, you just gotta go with the pre-made lesson in the Teacher's Guide that doesn't take a lot of prep. Got a doctor's appointment this week and can't plan like you usually do? - Grab the Teacher's Guide. Have a toddler at home (like I do) that really isn't cool with you working while he so obviously needs you to play with him (like I do)? - Grab the Teacher's Guide.

My tip with the Teacher's Guides are to take some sticky notes or sticky tabs and tab all the lessons you actually like. When my district used Wonders, I bookmarked all the Literature Anthology stories that I liked that had great follow-up questions. BAM. Done. When I was in a rush, there they were. And when I finished that story, I moved the tab inside the page so I could reuse it next year but it didn't stick out the side to distract me later.

Don't try to reinvent the wheel! There are MILLIONS of amazing ideas out there for great lesson plans. Use them! Did you just see the cool writing project your teammate did? Ask them to show you what they did and tweak it for your own needs. We have an amazing job where collaboration can literally save the day.

Teamwork makes the dream work! <3

Headed back to school soon? Check out these awesome Back to School Resources!

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