It is that time of the year that teachers everywhere (In the US at least) are heavy into the planning of this school years curriculum that will excite, motivate and push students to achieve new heights! Of course one goal of using technology as a teacher should be to make our life simpler and more effective. So I of course use my iPad and Laptop to try to make Lesson Planning as effective as possible. The State of Michigan, as well as the US Government, is demanding more and more reporting from us teachers every year. That means I really need to be able to create reports for my principals in an effortless manner – IF I WANT TO CONTINUE TO LOVE TEACHING!
Enter two apps…. I have been using Planbook (iPad app – Mac App)for two or three years and love it! This is not a post about that app though. I have come across a new app that I think I will be using to plan out each of my units and keeping those organized. DayBook Pro (iPad app) is an app that I think will work hand in hand with PlanBook. DayBook will allow me to more effectively plan each unit in better detail and re-use those units from year to year and class to class while PlanBook will be my general outline of what needs to happen on a day to day basis.
DayBook Pro is an app that is not the easiest to figure out the full potential of though, in fact I have complemented the developers several times on having an app that had great potential but was seriously lacking! After a few emails back and forth though, I dug in a bit deeper and discovered that what needed to happen was simply a bit more preparation on my part in order to make DayBook Pro useful to me (and I think every teacher). I would like to show you what I figured out with this app in the hopes that you don’t have to take as long to find the usefulness as I did!
THE SHORT VERSION IS THIS – We are going to create one template with all the necessary information inside of it to make units and activity planning a cinch for the rest of the year! Then we are going to Export that template to our DayBook Pro Library in order to make further use of it! THEN we are going to Love The PaperWork!
CLASSES AND UNIT SET UP: If you take a look at the first couple of screenshots you can see that the app allows you to set up your classes and units all while giving you a very good looking app to work with – the app is well designed and is appealing to the eye.
I really like the way you can arrange the units in the timeline view. In fact this is one of the reasons I got excited about this app in the first place. But all of the items on these two screens are pretty easy to understand.
It is when you go into a Unit that I got frustrated at first! Later I realized I just needed to make use of the library feature and create one “fully loaded” Unit that I could re-use time after time that would hold all the vital information like my state’s Fine Arts Standards! Take a look at the screen shot – you will see it is easy to figure out where to input the Nation and State level of the curriculum you are following as well as the subject matter. What I was missing is the standards area! As this is state law for when I get evaluated by my principals I found it vital to have a way to list each specific standard that I would be addressing for any given Unit/Lesson. You MUST DIG FURTHER DOWN! One the right side of the Unit’s page is where you create activities for that Unit and there-in lies the key!
It is in the Activities screen that you are given all the options for your specific curricular needs! Things like Standards, Assessments, Objectives and whatever else you state/principals are asking you for! You can see in my screenshot that I also created an area fro Read, Writing and Number Sense as well as Materials. Also notice that under each heading is listed a few items. THIS IS WHERE I’M STARTING TO LOVE THIS APP! This is the section where I will actually be able to enjoy creating Unit Plans on my iPad!
You can of course add each item under these headings individually but the real power comes from being able to create a template that will contain lists for you to be able to simply tap a little button next to an item to have it get added to each heading! This is where I went in and listed all of my State Standards that I have to prove were being taught. This is were I went in and listed all of the strategies for reading strategies, writing across the curriculum and numbers sense that we use in the music classrooms here at our school. It is so easy now to create a Unit, Add Activities, and then select items from these heading to complete the details that our principals need to see so they can report to the state level!
Here is a screenshot where I am selecting a standard or two from my list.
I do think that Peter, the developer, has a ways to go to really polish this app up. He assures me that there are great plans ahead too!
The process of making this all comes together does require the use of a real computer I think. You could do it all on your iPad but it will be much faster with a real computer where it is easy to copy and paste.
Here’s what I had to do – I set up the class and a unit on the iPad. Then I put in one activity and set up the basic headers inside of the activity. After doing that basic set up I then used the iPad app to sync my DayBook Pro file to their servers so I that I could open the file in the Web App on my laptop. Once there I started copying and pasting the Michigan Fine Arts Standards. Thankfully I had them already in a spreadsheet (YOU SHOULD HAVE THAT ALREADY PEOPLE – If you don’t shame on you! Get busy!). It will take a little bit of set up to get all the standards in the DayBook Pro file but once it is done then you use the Library feature of the app and you will Export this first Unit to your Library to then re-use over and over!
After all the setup is done for that first Unit you will then simply go into each of your blank units and use the Import feature to pull in that fully loaded template! Then you get to create the actual specific Unit itself. This is now going to be a cinch and this will not take very long at all! Of course you will probably want to export all of these units to you library as well to re-use year after year!
The last feature of this app that I want to mention is the ability to create a document of the finished unit. The document looks very nice and is exactly what your principal will want. There are many other features for you to discover that I have not brought up yet – like being able to add files to each unit/activity and the ability to link learning resources to the activity as well – like web sites, sound files or Pages documents. You can also insert Class Documents into each class – like maybe your Syllabus or class outline.
The Web App that I mentioned will cost an additional fee beyond the first 60 days. The iPad app itself is free but the ability to sync it to their servers and be able to access you DayBook on the web is a cost of $1 per month, $5 for 6 months or $10 annually. A small price I feel for the capability this app gives you. I have yet to find an easier way to create units and re-use them year after year as well as being able to generate the paperwork my principal is going to require this next school year! I also love it when developers are quick to respond to questions, comments and suggestions for improvements! I look forward to where this app is going and I look forward to creating my units this year inside of this app!