Monday, March 10, 2014

Lesson Planning with Common Curriculum

As I mentioned before, my school recently got an amazing donation of new technology, and the teachers finally got their MacBook Airs to start using. I have been helping some of the teachers with tech ideas, and last week one teacher asked me if I knew of any great online lesson planning tools or apps. This is something I have been searching for, because I do everything on computer, and having to use a traditional lesson planning book has really been a hassle for me. I told her I was looking too, and I would check into it that night.

Edutopia Groups

My first stop was Pinterest, because, well I am a Pinterest addict and can happily waste a few hours there. Which I did, but I promise I was spending the whole time looking at teaching resources. HA! Well, most of the time anyway. I found a few ideas, but not exactly what I was looking for. My next stop was Twitter, where I put the question to #edtech and #edtechchat, but I didn't receive any great responses. Then I hit the forums on Edutopia, which are an AMAZING resource- Edutopia has different groups like New Teacher Connections and Literacy (and so many more) that you can join. You can post ideas or questions and collaborate with educators all over the world. It was there that someone sent me to Common Curriculum. Cue the angels singing.

So Common Curriculum is a free tool for individual teachers, but if your school chooses to purchase it, you get added functionality like the ability to share your plans and collaborate with more than one other person (you can collaborate with 1 other person in the free version). It is a brand new tool, so there are some things that aren't happening yet, like creating an alternating schedule, but those are coming soon.

Input subjects/classes

My Weekly Schedule- this is just the general schedule, you can update any deviation from this in the Daily area

 You input your subjects and your weekly schedule, and then you are ready to begin with your lessons.  You can see your lessons by day, week or month, and you can do long range planning as well, and plan a whole unit and your whole year too! You can bump lessons you didn't get to till the next day, and you can add in new lessons as needed. There are SO MANY possible functions, it is impossible to be brief to give you a good overview, so I will leave it at this. Check it out, it is really incredible. It does take time to get the hang of and input your lessons, but once you have it down, it is a huge time saver. Now for a ton of pictures!

The tabs on the top of the site, show you different views

Daily view- you can drag and drop the lessons on the right side to reorder your daily schedule. On the left are lessons- those are headings that I added for my class- you can make a template for each subject, so all the lessons in that subject have the same template. 

Top part of the Weekly view- if you scroll down, you see all the lessons for each day.

Top part of the Monthly view- you scroll down and see each day of the month. I have found this view to be a bit clunky, but I may have just not played around with it enough. 

Long Range Planner- SUCH a great tool. You input your unit, and under each unit, you plan each lesson right there. You can drag and drop to reorder. You see each subject/class as you scroll right.

Ok, now for one of the biggies. Common Curriculum has EVERY state standard, including all common core standards as well as National Standards from a bunch of different organizations. It is so easy to add standards to a lesson. You literally just click on it, and it is entered into your lesson. 

Standards are organized by type, then grade level.

From the last screen shot, I clicked on Grade 2 under the Math heading, and this is what I got. Then you just click on the standards you want, and hit close in the top right corner, and they are right there in your less plan. 

This is a lesson I filled out completely. Right now, I still have to use the lesson plan format from my University for student teaching, so under Lesson File, I have my word doc with the actual lesson plan. Once I can move away from that, I would just type my lesson directly in here. 

Continuation of the lesson above- you can add files and pictures, which is great to document learning and revisit for the next year. If you click on a picture, you can see the full view. 

So that is my personal opinion (the website creators have nothing to do with this post) on Common Curriculum. I love it, the teachers in my grade level love it, and I bet if you take the time to check it out, you'll love it too!

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