The way I plan for my teaching has changed a lot over the past few years. This really was obvious today as my wife, Joanne, planned for her two days of teaching this week in the manner that I did not so long ago - writing out lesson plans by hand, cross referencing her resource books and creating some resources by jumping on the family desktop and printing it off ready for the photocopier. To be fair, she is just returning to teaching this year after five or so years out of the classroom (and we all know that the world has changed just a tad in that time) and she is teaching five-year-olds while I'm at the other end of the primary school spectrum. So, I thought I'd take ten minutes now and detail how planning digitally grants me flexibility and opportunity that was not possible in the past.
Firstly, I have the luxury of a school laptop. This means I can operate wirelessly wherever I feel comfortable around the house. I construct my program on a private wiki shared with my tandem partner and co-planning buddy - this enables transparency, collaboration, pooled resources and consistency in what we deliver in the classroom. We share documents, URL's and flipcharts via this wiki. I have all of my key documents on my hard drive and backed up on my 8GB thumbdrive. So, if I want to check if I have the laptops booked for my Literacy session on Monday, I can pull that document up in seconds. Likewise, if I want to see if there is a spare slot to take my class to the Resource Centre, I can also have that for checking in an instant.
Our Inquiry Scope and Sequence document is readily available, as are my PDF versions of SACSA, our mandated curriculum. So today, I quickly checked what the next inquiry unit was, briefly read the relevant outcomes from the SACSA Lite PDF and did a quick search on YouTube to see if I could find anything that suited the theme of human effects on the planet which is the broad concept behind the title of "Whose Fault Is It?" The YouTube search found a clip from a CNN documentary titled "Planet In Peril" which gave me a new lead to follow.
I found the website, and the Google Video version, which I know won't cope with our school filter and internet speed at school, so in the spirit of educational purpose, I started Vuze on the main desktop and started to download a torrent of the documentary so I could show excerpts tomorrow on the interactive whiteboard. This doco would be an ideal resource for "frontloading" students with ideas, base knowledge and questions for their own independent research later in the term. I also mentally noted the RSS feeds on the original website and fired off an e-mail to my colleagues about this find and then saved it to my delicious account.
I've been reading Dan Meyer's blog - in particular his refit of a Darren Kuropatwa mathematics lesson - and with this in mind started planning one of my own on the concept of measurement in metres. Another concept that needs to be covered is scale drawing, so I used Google Maps to get a decent screengrab of the school for a introductory lesson based on the BER intiative. I dumped this into a flipchart for the IWB and into a worksheet that could be given out to the students. With this image safely stowed, I posed the problem that will logically require some conceptual measurement skills and then headed over to the DECS website to download plans for new libraries and classroom blocks which I'm hoping someone tomorrow is going to point out as a requirement to successfully meet the assigned challenge.
With all of these plans detailed on the wiki and saved, I decided to write this post. Time now for some tortilla wraps for the family evening meal, then back after tea to insert some links here and then to assess last term's final inquiry assessment tasks which are sitting waiting for me on my students' blogs. If I don't get distracted doing other things, that is.
Great post. Thanks for showing us your process!
Great post. I’m just getting started with teaching digitally, and looking for people willing to share how they manage it! Thanks for the info.
Hey I just wanted to comment and say how much I appreciated this post. I am currently an education Student and I am working on a lesson plan and often finds ways to include wikis, videos form youtube, etc.
I think my class work and your blog shows how the classroom is ever changing. I think honestly the kids respond well to youtube videos and google maps. I know when I was growing up in high school everything was just coming of age then and I would play with all those sites. These kids are growing up in these time and know these tools so well. Kudos to you for finding ways to stay current and teach your students .
You distracted Graham? Surely not! 🙂
Great post, although really made me question some of my processes. Would love to have a peek at your collaborative planning wiki sometime. Maybe I could organise a visit?
Thanks for sharing.
Mr. Wegner — When I first started teaching 14 years ago, I had a very large book with state standards. I transported this material back and forth from school and home to insure that my lessons addressed the required expectations. I was taught as an undergraduate to write detailed and extensive lesson plans that left nothing to chance.
I now have access to a great deal of information through my school district in a digital format. States have also made their broad standards available online. However, teaching is no longer a format to me; teaching is a performance.
The greatest joy of being a teacher is connecting with my audience like an actor in a Broadway play. Through the use of technology, I am now at the top of my game. I am also seeking out online resources that leave an imprint on the minds of the children. Every teacher should be trained to SEEK and FIND. There is so much out there in cyberspace for the educator to use in a constructive way in the classroom.
And just as a side note — Every teacher should have a SmartBoard in their classroom.
Adria Carter– 4th Grade
Great post Graham. I haven’t been in the classroom for a couple of years and although I am still in a school have fallen behind. Thanks for the wake up call.