How I Use It
Now that I have used it for a year, I have exported it to a PDF and can refer to last year’s plans, copy the ones I want to reuse, and improve upon the lessons that did not turn out as I had hoped.
One thing that I have not considered in the past is the fact that I can share the plans with my students so they can see what is up and coming for the week and into the future. This may be a benefit to them to prepare themselves for future learning. If in the future I was able to use a model like a “Flipped Classroom,” this could be a wonderful tool for my students- a point from which they could start. I would have to restructure my plans a bit to make them more student friendly than teacher friendly, but it would not be that difficult. It would be wonderful if I could have one planbook with the limited lesson topics showing that the students could access and a matching one that I can all all of the details I want for my own use that the students would not be able to see.
Let me start by saying this site is intended for teacher use and not as a tool for students to use. For that reason I did not feel I could rate categories above for "Students like it, Students Learned, Engagement, and Pedagogy" because it doesn't really apply. I have been a user of this site for over a year now. I did quite a bit of research of similar sites before choosing this one because of the features included. I started as a free user, but quickly realized the benefits of being a paid user. I am very choosy about the web services I pay for as I cannot afford very many, but I felt this site was very worthwhile for only $25.00 per year. The paid version allows the user to have many additional options. These are only a few of the benefits: the user can attach files to plans, align the lessons to the common core (and keep track of which have been covered), embed his/her planbook on a website, share the plans with anyone (I share them with my principal- they can be shared with other teachers teaching the same subject and level to collaborate with colleagues), print and export the plans to PDF and MS Word files, and many other features. I can also include website links in the plans that save time when I need to connect to them during lessons. There are how-to videos in the help section as well as article that explain all of the different features.
The planbook is customizable which is a must for me. If the user has a routine that is followed daily or weekly, the planbook can be set to repeat the information for that period on a per-day/week basis for the entire year. For example, if you have something you do every Monday, you can set up a template for each week and add pertinent information for the particular day. The free features and paid features are compared on the home page of the site.
The benefits to students are indirect. I feel that this site enables me to plan my lessons/units much more effortlessly and effectively than a paper version of the same. I can add events throughout the year that affect my planning. I look ahead and plan when and how units fit together. I can put more effort into the quality of my lessons because I can organize them more easily. I can access my planbook anywhere I have internet access with any device I want to use. Now that I have used it for a year, I have exported it to a PDF and can refer to last year’s plans, copy the ones I want to reuse, and improve upon the lessons that did not turn out as I had hoped.
Needless to say I like this service and plan on continuing to use it in the future. I appreciate the fact that the producers of the site are open to suggestions for improvement and do make changes they feel will be beneficial to users. They also include a link to their helpful blog of tech tips for teachers.