I love all of the adorable and colorful print or digital lesson planners and of course what teacher doesn't love reasons to use their bright flair pens. I really wish I had the patience to buy and use one of those gorgeous lesson planners, but I just don't. Often times I can barely read my own handwriting even more troublesome is the fact that my lesson plans change frequently. I do not know how many times I have had to do the lesson plan shuffle for a surprise assembly, fire drill, or hurricane. The thought of having to erase and rewrite my week just gives me a headache. If you are an avid lesson plan writer I commend you! You are awesome and have skills and patience that are far beyond my comprehension.
So how do I stay organized because what is a teacher without lesson plans? Well, I use Google Calendars as my center for lesson planning. If my daughter gets sick I can easily move an activity around in my calendar and BOOM! Just like that my lesson plans are updated! Now the great thing about using google calendars (notice the s) for lesson planning is that if you set it up correctly, you also have a super awesome class calendar to share on your website for students and parents.
You can embed your google class calendar directly into your class website or LMS platform by getting the HTML code. I even found an easy-ish way to link it into my Bitmoji Virtual classroom (come on google allow embedding into slides in the future)! Of course one of the things I love about google sharing is that if you do it right, once shared you never have to update a link again and all links shared out will be automatically updated as you make changes to the original. The details on how to set all of this up are better seen than read. So watch the video to learn more about how I make the calendar/planning hack work for me!
Okay, now that you've seen how I do my lesson plans you may be screaming... "WAIT! Don't you have to submit your lesson plans at the end of the year? How can you get away with such treachery? " Relax, you should know by now that I devised a time saving method for that too. I just print out my monthly google calendar for the school year, my pacing guide (often county provided and includes standards and all the technical info that I follow), and I take a picture of my agenda board daily. I do the last part by using an app called CamScanner (Android, Apple, Ipad), a mobile scanning app that instantly scans all pictures, documents, bulletin boards, etc into a shareable PDF that I can print at the end of the year. With all 3 of those items I can submit an abundance of evidence of what my students were doing each day, with connected standards learning intentions, and differentiation strategies and it has never been a problem.
Of course if a specific principal (my 1st principal) requires a set lesson plan format I do my job and do it their way. Also, since I am a military wife and have had to "start over" a few times, I am a now a pro at new teacher training programs. Those valuable programs (seriously they are great, just not for the 3rd time in 5 years) often come with a coach of some sort that requires sit downs with documentation, often in the form of lesson plans and observations, to mentor you in the classroom. In these cases I also oblige and give them what they need from me, but you better believe that my google calendar planner is still up to date and on point! :)