Doesn’t Summer just feel nice? I know for some of you, it’s way too hot. Where I am, it’s been a bit cooler than normal. But if you’re a teacher, there’s a good chance that Summer means you don’t have to go in to work every day. For a month or two. That’s a pretty darn good feeling.
But, of course, if you’re a teacher, you probably also have the itch to do something for your classroom. So while I’ve been reflooring my house, salvaging a flooded basement, and awaiting the birth of my first child (his due date is today, and as you can probably infer from the fact that I’m writing a blog post and not at the hospital, we’re still waiting on Baby Wyzlic), I’ve also been doing a lot for school. There’s one thing I’ve been working on in particular that maybe you find interesting/helpful as well: using Google Drive to organize my lessons.
I’m a big believer in using Google Drive for basically all things communication among staff members. Need to do athletic eligibility checks? Make a spreadsheet and share it. Have a roster of students who will be going on a field trip all day? Make a document and share it. Organizing a potluck? Make a spreadsheet or even a form and have everyone add their items to the list.
I love it so much, that my school has asked me to do a short PD on it in the fall so we can start to use it more as a staff. And while I was putting this together, I thought about how I might use this not with my students (I use Forms all the time with them already), but for myself as a teacher.
So I’ve created a spreadsheet for each class and I will be using it as my yearly lesson planner. Here’s what my first week of English 9 looks like:
I need this structure so I can keep track of the grammar, reading, writing, and speaking skills I’ve covered, as well as the standards we’ve hit. In the “Lesson Plan Outline” section, I’ve linked to the lesson I’ve created (I don’t have a lesson plan for every lesson, but I will try to have at least a basic outline created), also using Google Drive. Each of these is then nested in folders in my main Google Drive area.
This is no different than what many people do with a paper lesson planner, but I think it’s going to work really well for me. The main benefit is going to be CTRL+H. Many people are familiar with CTRL+F on a Word document or in most web browsers as being the “find” command. That works in Google Drive items as well, but is limited to searching through only the active sheet in a spreadsheet.
CTRL+H usually brings up your history in a web browser. But if you’re using a Google Spreadsheet, this happens:
It’s a find and replace! Not necessarily all that handy, until you look at the search options. Do you see it?
With this tool, I can easily search through my entire year’s worth of lessons and look for when we hit a given standard. “You’re saying I didn’t hit RL.9-10.7? Let me show you exactly when, where, and how I did.” Or if a student asks when we learned such-and-such a thing, instead of saying “oh, it was last Tuesday — wait, no, Wednesday — I think,” I can do a quick search, tell them the exact day, and also any other times we happened to touch on that (at least according to my plans).
This also makes for an easy way to make changes for the future, as Google tracks changes and can go into “comment” mode quite easily. For me, these are the things that have made curriculum mapping and unit planning difficult: having a place where it all exists together, and being able to make changes or suggestions for the future.
It’s possible this will blow up in my face. But I’m feeling pretty good about this.