A Teacher’s Perspective: Turning To-Do List into Organized Plans

Debra Vaughn started using Planbook Plus in it’s Beta stage in the Fall of 2015. She has become a Power User since then and has been inputting plans for a 5 year Robotics course she is developing for her district. We wanted to share her experience of planning ahead with Planbook Plus with you.

I’ve been teaching for 25 years. What do I like the best?  Teaching, of course. What do I like the least?  The time it takes to complete paperwork necessary to do my job. debv-1I believe in planning lessons and being prepared for what you’re teaching, and I believe that people who plan their lessons achieve more teaching and waste less time than those who teach “on the fly”. I believe this because I’ve been that on-the-fly teacher. I start strong, but find that my plans begin to look more like a to-do list. I know that it wasn’t totally effective, because by the time I had taught the lesson 4 times, I had added and deleted elements from my instruction.

Then the district started requiring that we attach extra elements. By the time I add the anticipatory set, the big ideas, the vocabulary, Bloom, Marzano and Webb, the plan was too time consuming. But when they required the level of learning, cross referencing and tracking standards, remediation, preplanning, pretesting, post testing, data analysis, and more, it was the limit. The demands of this profession are steadily increasing. I haven’t even had enough time to see if I value some of the elements that I’m required to include. My lesson planning format became less and less helpful, but the time required to complete it was longer and more tedious. Some of it was a work of fiction altogether.

Where do I begin to tell about how much of a difference Planbook Plus has been for my lesson planning?

I teach 5 grade levels of a hybrid course that I have been given the privilege of designing. That means that I need to curriculum map my progress so that by the time a student has worked through my 5 year program, they have had all of the instruction that I can possibly fit in. Because I’m the only provider of this program, I have several different schedules to work with. Some students come once every 4 days. Others come every day for 10 weeks. Some kids come on the same day each week. Developing my Unit Outline consisted of writing on color coded index cards and taping them to the wall. It was hopeless!

debv-2Last year, I participated in the Beta testing for Planbook Plus, and for the first time since my self-contained days, I feel like my work is becoming organized and helpful to me. The golden nugget for me was the custom scheduling. I can customize each rotation to automatically appear when I need it. I can indicate what days we will not be in session for holidays, snow days, and so on, and the planner will automatically skip those days as it places my outline on the correct days. I can type in my to-do list lesson plans and use that as the framework, because Planbook Plus already put them on the days that I want them. I can build the full lesson plans from that point. I can copy lesson to lesson, I can add the elements that I need so that it is EXACTLY what my district demands this year, and I’ll still have it next year. I can even extend a lesson, which will move everything out for the duration of the extension. No erasing! Each day, when I open up my Planbook Plus calendar, I see the lesson plan for each class that I will see that day. I can filter it so that I can see exactly what I want to see.


I am using features of this program that make it possible for me to complete my lesson planning as I go, or as I have time. Another valuable tool is the ticket option. If you don’t know how to do something, or you don’t like how something works, you can put a ticket in, and someone will get back to you. On most of the tickets I submitted, it turned out that I was making a mistake that was easily corrected.

By the end of this school year, I expect to have a completed curriculum for a 5-year program. I finally feel like I’m doing my job in that area.

Most importantly, however, is that now I can even enjoy the teaching!