Planning Tools

My preplanning work station.

My preplanning work station.

A few weeks ago, I started organizing myself in order to tackle my curriculum planning for the 2015-16 school year.  I addressed developing a Classroom Bootcamp for the first quarter, and relied heavily on the difference between a bootcamp and a simple review.  There are a lot of ways to organize yourself, but sometimes, especially when you’re a new teacher, it can be overwhelming.  Whether you’re working on an entire curriculum, unit plan, or just a weekly/daily lesson plan, you can become distracted by all the options and resources that are available.  So here are a few tools that I use in order to relieve some of the frazzle-osity of planning.

Online Organizing

There are two types of  websites that I use to help keep myself organized.  The first is what I call the “Catch-All” and the other is “Application and Reflection.”

Catch-All

unnamedEvernote – I’ve blogged in the past about how much I love this website/app/program.  Evernote is a multi-platformed resource that allows users to accumulate notes, websites, media, and other information that they would like to save for later.  The organizational capacity is fantastic!  Categories are designated into Notebooks and within each notebook, notes are created that can be customized by adding your own text, checklists, bullet points, lists, etc.  Additionally, users can attach pictures or other documents that coincide with that particular content.

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Sample list of notebooks from my Evernote account.

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One example of a note created in my English IV Curriculum notebook.

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Sample checklist in my English IV Curriculum notebook.

Picture-7-2-2015Pinterest – I don’t think there is a soul out there who uses the internet that doesn’t know about Pinterest.  It’s more than just a way to waste a couple of hours planning weddings and dream homes; Pinterest has been one of the most helpful resources for developing everything from classroom management plans to creating posters/anchor charts for my walls to interesting articles about texts we are reading in class.  By being able to create specialized boards to organize each of these “pins,” I am able to efficiently incorporate their contents into my classroom.

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Obviously, “I am a runner” and “Workouts” don’t make too many appearances in my curriculum, but they do give me the endorphins to make it through my lessons. =)

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Application and Reflection

suite_transparent_largeGoogle Docs – I have found myself becoming more reliant on Google Docs over the last year, and I admit that I have A LOT to learn.  I have uploaded all of my curriculum documents and lesson plans here, but I also complete reflections on my lessons.  This is something I am setting up for the first time this school year, so I will keep you updated as to my progress.

Reflective Teaching Challenge Day Twenty-One: My Hobbies

DAY TWENTY ONE

Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.

1.  Running

I started running when I was engaged and planning to drop a few pounds before my wedding in 2009.  I didn’t think it would be anything that would last longer than June 2010.  What I realized was that I had found an activity that both modified my body, but cleansed my mind, gave me a goal to work towards, and gave me a greater sense of pride in myself than anything had up until that point.  I began to read and study the art of running.   I signed up for races, developed my own personal training program, and bought into the hype.  Before I knew it, I had started running half marathons and enjoyed it!  I was a runner.

Running Goddess

 

I used all these things today on my long run; that's water, not Vodka

I used all these things today on my long run

Medal and Bib Love my Medal

I bring my love and history of running into the classroom to help demonstrate to my students that benefits of working through the difficulties towards a greater goal.  I share with them that there were many times, more times than not, I wanted to give up.  I wanted to stop right in the middle of a run, the middle of a race to walk back to my car and go home.  I knew the joy and pride I would have if I kept going, and knew the list of reasons why I had started with that first step, and kept going.  I also share with them the cathartic aspect of working through a difficult task.  Most of the time when I share this with students, it’s in relation to the usual school-related topics:

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Homework
  • Studying
  • Coming to school on a regular basis

Ultimately, this connection works.  I hang up my race medals in my classroom as an allegory to those sentiments: Work Hard, Achieve Greatness; Learn Who You Are Through Your Struggles

2.  Reading

You cannot be a teacher and not have students assume that you’re a book nerd.  I grasp this assumption by the coffee cup handles and drink it all in.  Naturally, I share my love of reading with my students.  Not only do I let them know that I am a reader, I bring the hobby to school with me in all it’s glory and blemishes.  I let my students know that I have not read as much as I would like to; I”m not as well-read as I should be.  By letting them know that I am not perfect, that I struggle to maintain focus and interest in books as well as they do, they know that their experiences are normal.  Additionally, it shows them that I am interested in what they are.  It’s become well known around my school that I am huge John Green fan.  I show his vlogs, loan out my copies of his novels, and have even created an after-school event to watch “The Fault in Our Stars” on its premiere night.  Do I hyperbolize my fangirl status with John Green?  A bit; that’s not to say that my admiration is any less.  I do this because I want my students to know that I am undeniably enraptured with my love of reading and experiencing.

luv books

Books Collage

 

Matched/Crossed and The Hunger Games trilogy

Matched/Crossed and The Hunger Games trilogy

Read Books Collage

Book Collage

100 Book List One

Book 2

3.  Blogging

A few students know that I write my own blog.  Most of them know that I write, both creatively and for my own cathartic needs.  Similar to my love of running and reader, when I talk to my students about my own writing, I share with them both my triumphs, but my struggles as well.

Run a Sick Ass Blog

Daily Blog Schedule

Original blogging-topic schedule

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Two of my original headers for Fancy Oatmeal

Additionally, I use my own blogging experience to support my requirement for them to maintain their own blogs.  I run down the reasons for why students should write, always looking for new scientific and emotional reasons to further support my statements.  Here is an example:

MGUxMDU1NzExNiMvakFlSldrSWp5VlJpVEZrMkFXLXZDNV80LUZRPS82NXgxMjI6MTE5NHg3NDIvMTI4MHg2MjAvczMuYW1hem9uYXdzLmNvbS9wb2xpY3ltaWMtaW1hZ2VzL2NkeGVjbm54b2Z3bWpibHI4bm1weXFmcmxmbGx3Mm45OGoxdTVkODlsYWV0cDF1bjg1dzF2cTk0cWg5ZW5uZW0uanBn

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write by Rachel Grate

Reflective Teaching Challenge Day Five: My Classroom

DAY FIVE

Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see–and what you don’t see that you’d like to.

 

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Command Central

 

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Resources for inspiration and knowledge

 

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A blank slate & gentle reminders

 

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A bit of who I am

 

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The Roadmap

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Grand Central Station

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