Have you been wondering how to use Planbook in your music room? Over the past few months, I’ve been using Planbook to keep track of my lessons; in this blog post, I’ll detail the what, why, and how of Planbook!
So…what is Planbook?
Planbook is a paid website platform that allows you to keep track of lessons, input lessons, align standards, and even communicate with administrators and students (which I haven’t explored yet.) At $15 a year, it’s pretty inexpensive, and with all the time it has saved me, I think it’s more than worth it!
Reasons to use Planbook
Keep track of lessons: Before Planbook, I would keep track of each week of lessons with a file in Google Slides. I had the schedule for the week, and would input lesson numbers (i.e. 1-6 for the sixth lesson of the 1st grade year.) This was a bit time-consuming, as every time there was a no school day, I had to shift everything by copying and pasting (because I am on a rotating ABCDE schedule.) In Planbook, it’s much easier. When you open an account (which you can try out for free, for 30 days), they will have you enter your calendar for the year, they’ll ask you for what kind of schedule you are on , etc., and then they build your schedule automatically! No more doing it week by week…it’s already been done! This is especially helpful if you have a concert coming up and want to see at a glance how many more lessons you have with a class before the big night!
Input lesson information: Before using Planbook, I had a system that I thought was pretty seamless…but looking back on it now, I see it was a bit too time-consuming. I’d write my lessons in Word, then save as a PDF (because, you know, fun fonts) so that I could print to my school computer. Then, I’d go and get the lessons, bring them back, and put them into my lesson plan book. If I changed a lesson, which I often do as I’m teaching it, I’d make a note of it, then go back to my laptop and input the changes. Sometimes I’d print it out again, and sometimes not, but either way, there were a lot of steps!
Now, in Planbook, I've customized the lesson portion to include all of the aspects of my lesson plan: Objectives, Materials, I can statements, Process, Essential Questions, and Standards. I also added quick overview, and customized my set-up, so only the quick overview shows up when I’m looking at each week (instead of the entire lesson), so that at a glance, I can see what I’m doing each week with each grade. My lesson tabs look like this; you can change yours to whatever you want:
And this is what Monday of this week looked like, with only my quick overview showing for each class:
Align to standards: I have aligned all of my lessons to the Ohio music standards for years, but Planbook makes it even easier. Just search for your standards (national or state), click the checkboxes for the appropriate standards, and you’re good to go!
Easily adapt lessons: If after teaching a lesson once, you realize you need to adapt it a bit, just edit your lesson right inside Planbook! I’ve been adding a lesson to only the first day of each rotation, so I can teach it once, adapt as needed, then copy and paste it to all the other lessons of the rotation.
Easily access material info: In my old system of writing lessons, I had all my materials on two or three lines, written with commas between them, because I was trying to keep my lessons onto two pages. With Planbook, I can bullet point the materials, which is much easier to read when gathering materials!
Copy lessons from previous years: Since I’ve only been using it for a couple months, I haven’t done this yet, but if you have a lesson that you are teaching again the following year, just copy and paste! Super easy!
Easily share lessons: If you are leaving sub plans or need to send a lesson to your administrator, it’s really easy to do that. It actually saves as a Google Doc, and then you can share and/or print!
Delays and snow days: If you have a snow day, it’s easy to add that into Planbook, whether all your lessons get bumped by a day, or those lessons are just cancelled. If you have a delay schedule because of a two-hour delay, that can also be added fairly easily.
What I Wish It Did...
My schedule is a bit confusing, as most of my classes are on an ABCDE rotation, but my ensembles are M-F. I contacted Planbook to see if I could have two different schedules, and there is a way to do it, but you have to go to a different view to see the classes on a different schedule, instead of being able to see everything all at one glance. It would be nice if they could all be on the same schedule, but this will do for now!
Overall, I’ve found Planbook to be a great way to streamline my lesson planning process AND save time. It’s a win-win! I hope this has been helpful to you as you figure out how to use Planbook in your music room! If you’ve been using it and have a suggestion or question, feel free to comment below. Happy planning, and happy teaching!