August 28, 2014
Teaching is a demanding and time consuming job. If you are like me you could use some help juggling things as you scramble from one lesson to the next. Here is a tool that helps me keep my lesson plans organized, saves me time and helps me improve my instruction each year.(photo at top courtesy of Helen Hall)
The best tool I have found for keeping my teaching life organized is OneNote. The software is not designed specifically for education and lesson plans, but it works really well for it.
It allows you to not only lay out your lesson plan for each class period each day, but also to include all of the resources that go with it: worksheets, photos, webpages, videos, etc.
Here is a screencast I made showing how I use it for my lesson plans.
Microsoft OneNote has a free version that saves everything in the cloud (on OneDrive). I use the paid version that we have at my school, but I have downloaded the free one at home and it seems almost the same (I have had some issues with syncing my school version with the cloud version at home—as in I can’t seem to sync them. But when I try saving new stuff in the home version it seems to work fine). It is also available in an app but I haven’t tried that yet.
I am not an expert user of OneNote- I’m definitely still learning some of the features. However, the basics are really easy to learn and you can start doing lesson plans immediately on it.
There are other programs out there for taking digital notes that will also work for lesson plans. Evernote is a very popular one. I use Evernote on my phone and really like some of its functions. For example, you can take a picture of a worksheet and it makes a pretty nice quick scan. Email it to yourself and a handwritten quiz or activity is now digital.
I also use it to store recipes that I want to remember (OK, so I only have about a half dozen that I actually cook….but it’s a convenient place to store them). I played around using Evernote with school stuff for a while but I felt like the layout wasn’t as natural for lesson plans so I stayed with OneNote.
Give it a try
If you are hesitant to make the change to digital lessons plans, then just give it a test drive. Use it for two weeks or for a unit or just play around with it for a while to see if it suits your planning and teaching style. I would really encourage everyone to use some sort of note taking software for lesson plans, it has really helped me organize and improve my teaching!
PS: If you have any other tips about OneNote, lessons plans, or staying organized in the classroom, feel free to share them in the comments. I would love to hear your ideas.