The admin side of teaching

Lesson Plans Wherever You Are

When I first started my business I brought WAY too much stuff with me while I taught.  In fact, I had to bring two work bags with me each day.  My biceps, I’m sure, got a great workout lifting & putting down those bags, but it really wasn’t practical in the long run.  I needed an alternate solution & fast.

I’m a firm believer that tech should bring something to your life whether that is productivity, learning, a quick(ish) escape from work, or a bag that is several pounds lighter.  Each app or bit of tech should fulfill a purpose.  For me, this led to Planboard, online app specifically designed with teachers in mind.

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with Planboard, nor am I receiving any compensation for this review.  I just really love the app!

Lesson Plans - Wherever You Are

What I LOVE about this app:

Syncs across devices:

I can teach in the morning while viewing my lessons plans on my iPad.  In the afternoon, I plan using the online app on my computer WITHOUT logging out on my iPad.  When teaching a couple hours later, I switch back to my iPad where everything is updated.  (At the time of this post, it is also available on Google Chrome Store.)

User friendly calendar & schedule (weekly & semester):

Enter in your studio schedule & holidays.  Next, enter class names (i.e. student first name), set up sections (ie. method book or program name), then move these into the correct time slot.  Done!  Feel free to colour code your schedule as well.

Templates:

Set up a lesson template, or multiple templates.  For your little ones, a different template of activities may be in order.  For older students who are preparing for an exam, the lesson plan will look different.  Other template ideas:  group lessons, recital prep, theory/music history lessons, special days at the studio.

Multi-media at your fingertips:

Want to show your student a video or print off a specific worksheet?  Not a problem.  Upload files, videos, links, tables, images … it’s all there.  If you are co-teaching, a click of a button allows you to share the lesson plan with someone else.  I have not used the later function, but could see it being highly useful if I needed to share the lesson with another teacher.

Learner Outcomes that match your area:

Depending on where you live, or how you plan your curriculum, you may use provincial (or state) music learner outcomes.  If you are wanting to show alignment (partial or otherwise) to school curriculum standards this is a great tool.  If another teacher has uploaded the LO’s (learner outcomes), they are available for everyone’s use.  If not, you can upload the educational standards.

Wondering why you want or need this tool?  In Canada, homeschooling families need to show what educational goals & milestones their children have reached twice a year.  Being able to easily provide a list of specific LO’s homeschoolers can provide their facilitator is a big plus for some families.

Rearranging lessons is a breeze:

Sometimes lessons don’t go according to plan or need to be thrown out all together.  Or, maybe you have multiple students doing many of the same songs from their method books with individualized supplementary repertoire.  It is just a click of a button to move forward (or back) a lesson or even copy an entire lesson to another day/student.  Planboard has made this even easier by allowing you to copy to multiple classes on multiple days.  (Great for if a few students are learning many of the same songs at the same time.  I just modify the 1 or 2 individual songs afterward.)  Be forewarned that if you choose to copy a lesson, it will delete any lesson plan on the day/lesson you are moving it to.  Be careful!

Great support:

The Chalk Team regularly updates their apps & really listens to user feedback.  Planboard is one of a suite of apps (with attendance & marks being the others).  Not sure of something while planning?  “Mr. Chalk” has a discrete pop-up box that can be used to reach someone right then & there who will be happy to help.  When I first began using Planboard a few years ago I didn’t bother planning lessons over the summer holidays.  Imagine my surprise when the CEO emailed to find out if there was anything they could do to improve the app.  Turns out they realized I wasn’t using the app & rather than just shrug their shoulders, they took steps to find out how to keep me using the app. I was sure to email back & let them know how impressed I was & that I would be back in the fall.

The surprisingly reasonable cost:

With such an array of apps & great customer service, it is a pleasant surprise that this service is … free.  (At least at the time of this app.)  Sometimes an online app or service starts off free, but when it takes off includes a premium service.  Planboard has continued to stay free even though more & more teachers are using it.

I do need to add a caveat.  The Chalk Team suite of apps is free for individual teachers.  If you have a studio with multiple teachers, there may be a cost involved if you use it as a school.  For more details, check the school page.

As you start the New Year, I hope that this tool will make your planning more streamlined & efficient!  I know that for myself Planboard has proven itself to be an invaluable tool.  Let me know what you think of this app … the pros, the cons, the little things that make this app (or another) your favourite planning tool!

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