Online lesson planning using Microsoft Outlook/Exchange

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Planning – the bane of the science teacher’s life.  With the demands of a practical subject, planning has to be done well in advance to allow equipment to be requested from technicians or to make sure you have time to set equipment up.

For years I’ve made notes across planning grids, teacher planner and other note books.  I have tried commercial planning systems in the past but our recent placement in special measures means that we have to use standardised paperwork across the school.  This ruled out the TES Pro service which launched recently (and their continued failure to fix the bugs on their site when using Google Chrome have destroyed my confidence in their systems).

It was suggested to me that I try lesson planning in Outlook.  Not only could I plan my lesson and save it under a specified time slot, but I could share it with TAs and other people that need access to the planning.  It can also be accessed from home or at work without having to carry paperwork backwards and forwards, and although the formatting is messed up, I can read the planning on my tablet too.

First off all you set up a set of recurring appointments in Outlook.  I chose to turn off the reminder alarms because they annoy me pinging up on my desktop, phone and iPad at the same time.  I use the categories to colour my teaching slots on my timetable (doesn’t show up these colours on an iPad).  Into these recurring appointments I pasted a blank lesson plan – which I had saved as a table.

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To plan a lesson I simply go to an appointment and double click – then select the option to edit “just this one”.  Fill in the lesson plan and click save.  Your lesson plan is then viewable across all your devices.  To share with a colleague you need to invite them as attendees to your meeting – the lesson plan will then be viewable in their calendar as well (assuming they accept your invitation).

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I’ll keep you updated how it goes.

Advantages

  • Sync lesson plans across devices.  Changes are pushed to other devices
  • Links with calendar
  • Can set reminders for special events (for example if you have to remember to buy something for a lesson)
  • Paperless

Disadvantages

  • Filling in a typed lesson plan is more time consuming than writing the same on a paper template
  • Requires an online calendar – I use MS Outlook with my work Exchange account but it should work with Google Calendar etc
  • Harder to show other people – needs to be printed off if you don’t want to add it to their calendar.