Google+ Teachnology: Improve organisation with google calendar as a lesson planner

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Improve organisation with google calendar as a lesson planner

I downloaded a few ipad apps to see if I could find a suitable lesson planning app, some claimed to be the perfect solution and a replacement to my trusty but easy to misplace NZ teachers planner, but I wasn't really happy with any of them - so I decided to use google calendar and sync it with my phone/ipad so I could plan on the go and refer to it when I was teaching PE on the field - it is also
easy to attach files from google drive and almost impossible to loose anything that is in the cloud and backed up on several devices!  I am really happy with it so far, it has saved me quite a bit of time and also allowed me to plan quite for ahead, as well as having a permanent record of all lessons taught for years to come - here is how you set it up.

1) Decide wether you are going to create a new calendar for each class (eg 11PE, 9PE, 12PD etc..) or just have a calendar called '2013 lessons'.  The advantage of having one for each class is that you can hide and share calendars/classes with particular people - if you have a senior class with quite a few extra-curricular commitments you can share all the lesson plans with them, as well as lesson notes/presentations/documents so they can catch up on work before they get behind.  This term I have trialled it with one calendar for all my classes, and don't really see any drawbacks at this stage - it is possible to share individual lessons with groups or students, i'll try separate classes next term.

2) Once you know which classes you need to create calendars for, have a look at this guide to show you how to create an individual calendar.  Fill in all the relevant boxes and 'create calendar'.

3) Switch to 'week' view in the top right corner and create a new event by dragging over the time that the lesson occurs, until it finishes - i'll start at 8:30 on Monday morning and drag until 9:30 (our lesson actually starts at 8:50 but you can only select hour or half hour times on the week view - change the exact time in 'edit').  Make sure you select your new 'lesson plan/class' calendar and press 'edit event'.

4) Our new event window will appear and you can enter all the details.  Make sure you have the time correct, it will automatically change the end time so the event lasts for an hour (you can adjust the default event time to any time if lessons in your school are shorter or longer by clicking the cog in the top left and then 'settings', change the default meeting length).  Click the 'repeat' box just below the time and date, another window will appear in the middle of the screen and present a few options.  At the  moment I have been planning term by term so each block of lessons is 10 weeks long.  Select 'repeats weekly', then every '1 week' and then 'ends' after '10' occurrences.  The summary will then let you know the changes you have made - if you are happy with them then click 'done'.

5) You will be back at the 'edit event' page.  It is important to note that whatever you write in the 'description' box at this stage will be duplicated for the amount of lessons you have specified to occur after the original event.  This could be handy if you know that you have silent reading every monday afternoon, or if it is a practical lesson.  You can just leave the description box blank if every lesson is different.  Check the rest of the details and press 'save' at the top of the screen.

6) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have your whole week of lessons, automatically also creating the whole term (depending on the amount of times you set to repeat)  Your week view should now look like the one above.

7) To enter information into the lesson plan you need to click on the event, and then click 'edit event'. in the description write what you are planning to do, as well as attach any events - or invite any people who might be part of the particular lesson (I have a policeman in my Tu Tane class every Wednesday so I let him know the lesson plan in advance through google calendar).  Once you are happy with the content press save.  You will have 3 choices, in most occurrences you will choose the top one 'only this event', as the next lesson will probably be different - the other 2 choices are self explanatory.

8) You have now started to use google calendar for planning lessons!  If you have a smart phone or tablet it is easy to sync it between devices.  Having your plan online is also great for setting relief lessons - you can choose to invite the person covering the lesson to view/edit the lesson plan (event) or just print out a summary of your day, with all the event details.

9) If you would like to set notifications for a lesson, or even the whole calendar (you can receive a text , pop up or email before the event) you can set this up by going to the 'edit event' page, and selecting 'add reminder'.  On Wednesday we have different lesson times, and I usually forget, so I get the calendar to text me 5 minutes before the end of the lesson to remind be to get the boys in to get changed!