PlanBook.com – Organizing My Lessons Efficiently
When I teach classes or workshops on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom, I continually reference Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR Model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition), found at http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/. I emphasize to music educators that when integrating technology into the music classroom, you can begin by getting your feet wet, or substitution, as opposed to diving into the deep end. An example I give is instead of pausing the music yourself for the music and movement game of Freeze Dance, substitute this by using the Stop Dancing app (found at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-dancing/id950259331?mt=8). Have your mobile device, whether a music player, smartphone, or tablet (ideally a smartphone or iPod Touch), play and stop the music from your playlists. To read more about educators using SAMR, I found Kathy’s site very helpful on the topic: http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html
Planbook.com is another type of substitution tool that music educators can utilize in their classrooms. It does have an annual fee of $12 per year. I feel that for me, it is well worth the cost. My previous planner was a mess. I would take my schedule that I would receive in September and create a color-coded schedule on my computer using Word. I would then print several copies at a color printer and place them in a binder. From there, I would write my lesson plans in my tiny squares. Every night, I would leave my planner on my desk because if a family member or I got sick overnight, the planner was there for the sub. However, since the squares were tiny and they contained very little detailed info, this would never suffice for a sub (which means I would be in the school at 5 am creating sub plans). If an administrator looked at my planner, it would not be very clear as to what I am teaching because it lacked depth and details. In addition, we have a seven-day rotating schedule, with the 7th day moving around to accommodate assemblies. This was not easy to add to the planner. Finally, files, manipulatives, and other items I would use would be referenced in the planner, but I could not attach those items to the planner. All of these issues made me stop and reevaluate what type of planner I would rather use.
My ideal planner would be:
- Saved in the cloud so it would have a difficult chance of being lost
- Have standards easily accessible
- Be able to share it with admin so that they can see my lesson plans at any time
- Be able to print out the lessons when needed
- Be able to attach all necessary files and links to the lessons
- Easily cut and paste the lessons from one class of second grade to the other class of second grade
- Have an app version so I can access it from a mobile device
- Be able to handle a rotating schedule that is more than five days
- Be able to add events to the schedule
- Be able to “bump” a lesson to the next time the class meets because of a holiday or inclement weather
- Be able to view by month, week, or day
- Be able to show me when I have taught certain standards
- Be able to search for lessons and/or standards through the search tool
- Be able to export the lessons
I researched a few, such as planbookedu.com and commoncurriculum.com, and these are wonderful sites with educators raving about them. However, I chose planbook.com because it fit my specific needs very well and their customer service is good. They would answer my emails immediately and would give me comprehensible answers to my questions.
Planbook.com is online and saved in the cloud. I can access it from the computer or from my iPad or iPhone (with their free app). When I plan a lesson, I can click on the standards tab, then click on the standards button, and it will bring up a plethora of standards for you to choose from including our newest version of the national music standards (Core Arts Standards NCCAS), to state standards, to physical education standards (my movement lessons hit those), to Common Core standards, to almost any standards you could want. If it is not there, planbook.com gives you an option to add those standards. In addition, it can show me what standards I have taught and when I have taught them. This is helpful if you need to show that you are incorporating standards into your lessons.
I like the fact that it can create a link that you can share with anyone to view your lessons. In addition, you can place a teacher key onto your planner so that other teachers with the key can import their lessons onto your planner.
If I have a specific file that I am using for the lesson, whether it be a PowerPoint file, a SMART notebook file, a Finale or Sibelius file, an audio file, a word file, a link to a website, or more, I can attach it to the lesson. When I login to my planner from any computer, the file is there and can be downloaded to use in any classroom or school that I teach.
This planner allows me to print my lessons and export them as a .csv file that I can open in Excel. The planner lets me attach links and files so that I can access the links and download the files to any computer that I may be using during the lesson. It can also handle my 7-day rotating schedule with ease (but I do have to make the effort add the 7th day manually because it is not always in order), it allows me to easily cut and paste lessons to other classes, and when there is a snow day, I can click “bump lesson” and it will bump all of my lessons over by one. For example, we had a delayed opening last A Day. I bumped my morning classes and planbook.com moved all of the lessons that were affected by the delayed opening to the next day they have music.
Planbook.com is an extremely useful tool for me in my classroom. It replaces my paper planner, and gives me a more effective tool to organize all of my lessons and units. When thinking about technology integration in your classroom, planbook.com, or any online planbook, would be a wonderful way to begin substituting a less effective method of planning for a more effective and efficient way of planning. Finally, if I had a wish list, I would wish that planbook.com and the iDoceo app would merge together so that my lesson planner and my assessment tool were combined into one online tool that could be easily and effectively shared with administrators.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com