Online Planning Book - Nice for Some, but Unnecessary for Others
I think the success and impressiveness of this tool depends on the user and their level of lesson planning right now. I would certainly recommond this tool for beginners. It is ideal for new teachers who have not had to create many lessons before or those who have trouble long-term planning. CommonCurriculum lets you set up a lesson template (assuming you follow the same general plan each time in a given class) and then apply that template to any all classes you teach. You can set your schedule for variations if you daily schedule changes regularly. You can also delete or move components of your plans around if the day doesn't proceed as expected or another activity runs overtime. One of the nicest aspects is the ability to see all of the state standards for your state and select them to fit neatly into your plan. There is also a component where you can build your lesson plans into a larger unit and organize those units into a year long plan. All of these things are great if you haven't done them before or if you've still been using a paper lesson plan book. However, many districts now have collaborative spaces for team planning or curriculum management software to hold diary maps and align lessons to standards. Personally, I appreciate the template for helping organize my thoughts, but the template could have easily been a PDF document and done the same thing. Since I don't have classes that repeat regularly, the appeal of using my template day after day was lost on me. I would consider recommending CommonCurriculum to new teachers or students teachers I work with who haven't planned much on their own yet, but I think my established teacher peers would find it redundant to work they have already done. We use a curriculum managemant system called AtlasRubicon that allows our staff to create lesson plans with a template, align the lessons to standards, and share them with each other. Many of my staff were doing such things in their own way before we contracted with Altas Rubicon. I don't think this would really help them. It would just duplicate work that they have already done.
How I Use It
I joined Common Curriculum because I saw it on a "Best of" site described as a great tool for planning lessons. I set a goal for myself to create tighter, more streamlined lessons this year, so I decided to try it out. I established a class for a lesson, but that was mildly unecessary because in my role as a teacher librarian, I teach the same group of students only a few times a year max. But I created a class in order to move to the next step - setting a schedule. It seemed that the primary focus of setting a schedule was the ability to have the courses that you teach repeat. Again, I do not need my courses to repeat often, so the step seemed cumbersome and almost impeded my ability to progress. Finally I got to the lesson template, where I could set my components for this lesson. I did so with ease and selected the standards I will address from a comprehensive and user-friendly list. Modifying the individual elements of my template was easy, but it was a little tricky to find where it would be stored since my classes don't repeat and wouldn't show normally on the schedule/calendar. Since I was essentially done with that class when I was done creating my lesson, I didn't need to duplicate the class or the lesson or add it to a unit, so I simply signed out of my account.