Saturday, August 22, 2015

In Search of the Ultimate Digital Lesson Planner

As I am beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year, I am looking for the perfect digital lesson planner/ online calendar for teachers. Below, I look at a variety of calendar options to use for lesson planning: Google Calendar, Standards Planner, and mySmartPlanner.

Google Calendar is part of Google Apps for Education, to which my school district subscribes. You can also use Google Calendar for free with a Google account. Standards Planner ( is a Free Lesson Planner. mySmartPlanner is a calendar available through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s which my school district uses for Reading and Math curriculum at the Elementary level.

Below, I am going to analyze the positives and shortcomings of each of these calendars.

Last year, I used Google Calendar for my lesson planning. I liked that I could add repeating slots to the calendar and I especially liked that I could share this Calendar with parents, or post it on my website. You can add different colors for different subjects, and make certain events private, so I could use the same calendar for confidential school meetings, and it would display “busy” to the public calendar on my website. The one shortcoming that Google Calendar seemed to have was when I tried to use it for scheduling parent-teacher conferences. It required the parents to have a google account to sign up for a slot. So, I ended up using for scheduling parent-teacher conferences instead.

About halfway through the school year, I was introduced to Standards Planner ( ). Standards Planner is attempting to serve both as a calendar and a repository for resources you can use in your teaching. This is a great idea! The free resources posted in the default mode are mostly geared toward upper grades (middle school and high school). The great thing about Standards Planner is that you can draw on resources from your Google Drive and you can upload your own resources as well. I think this is incredible in theory. but there are still a few kinks to work out before I would use Standards Planner as my sole teacher’s planner. For instance, the Khan Academy videos did not load for me. Plus, it seems that you must upload all the resources, rather than giving a link to a resource on another website (like the resources I find at ).

Think Central’s mySmartPlanner is pretty cool has the ability to load resources from the curriculum that my school district uses into the calendar. The issues with mySmartPlanner, is that it is only available to people who use this certain curriculum, and it does not seem to have the ability to load resources outside of this curriculum (like from EngageNY like Standards Planner offers). I love the fact that I can use the Browse feature in Think Central and assign certain resources to the students and schedule the resources on the calendar.

So, what would I envision as an ultimate calendar for planning lessons as a teacher?

Ultimately, I would like to have a calendar that works as a lesson planner. So, I could find resources that I need from anywhere, and link these resources by scheduling them to a specific subject or day/time.

I’d like to rough sketch this timeline, or rather have the ability to push all following planned material forward, or backward a day. This would be great as I tend to overplan a given day of lessons and then realize I need to spend more time on a given subject. Or, sometimes, my students know the material, and I don’t need to spend as much time as I planned.

I would also like the ability to assign these resources to students, so that they appear on a student’s calendar. has the ability to add assignment due dates to students calendars, which is nice, but does not seem to put these on a teacher’s calendar.

Eventually, I’d love to have a  calendar, or rather a to-do list that students can log into on their own and work through tasks in a given order. This would allow me to make more personalized learning experiences. For instance, I’d love for students to log in to their computers, sign into a certain website and have a list of experiences/ assignments they need to complete to master a certain standard. It would be good to have this also with a calendar format so that students know there are due dates for their assignment.

The ultimate digital lesson planner does not yet exist. So, I believe there is opportunity for growth in this area. Perhaps Standards Planner, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Edmodo can work together to make this happen. Then, They can make it exportable to Google and iCal so we can access it from other devices. Let me know if you have found your ultimate digital lesson planner.