The Lesson Planner App – My first iPhone/Android App

The “Lesson Planner” app has been available in the Apple App store for a week or so now and it seems to be getting a good response (phew).  This is my first app and it wasn’t easy! I am very lucky to be married to a very experienced, patient and talented programmer!

I’ve had the idea for this app for a long time.  You see, I’ve had  the analogue, paper version of it in my desk draw for six or seven years.  Each one of those ideas was thought up by teachers at Shenley Academy (which was then called Shenley Court School).  When the school adopted the TEEP Four Part Accelerated Learning Cycle as it’s standard lesson planning framework teachers were asked to suggest one (or more ideas) to form a ‘keyring’ of ideas.  Each section of the planning process was colour coded on these cards so that, as we were planning, we could search for inspiration.   They were all held on a massive keyring (or, as I joked, the massive hoop earrings that we used to confiscate from our wonderful pupils… 😉 I loved it!

I loved that it represented the collected knowledge of 90 teachers in one school. I loved that it helped to refresh my practice and ensure that my lessons were never stale and I loved learning from others.  Unfortunately, when I emigrated and came to Adelaide I left my ‘key ring’ (along with a heap of books I really wish I’d brought with me!) in the English office. I wanted to pass it on to my replacement.    I missed it instantly!  Regardless of the fact I’d been using it for years, it still helped me to focus on the pedagogical purposes for my tasks.

It took me a while, but after some gentle nagging, (thanks Patty 🙂 I managed to get one of the members of the English department to post it back to me! I knew I had to share this and I knew that, with the move to mobile, smart devices, the best way to do that was with the Apple App Store and Google Play.  Plus, if it was digital and dynamic I would have the opportunity to add in some ICT alternatives and to keep adding to the library.  There are several new, non original- key ring ideas in there already and I’ve updated most of them to include a digital version that will help you to satisfy the ICT General Capabilities nicely. The key ring started by a group of High School teachers and I hope that it will continue to evolve in it’s new form.  It’s certainly relevant to any year level!

I wrote the app both for me, as I plan my own lessons and workshops (Yes, i use the same lesson planning format for my workshops at Flinders.. ask my students on #educ3625 they’ll tell ya! 😉  but also for the pre-service (and in service-teachers I work with).  Whether  you’re learning to plan effective lessons, or looking to develop your current practice, having a library like that of tried and tested, creative ideas is incredibly useful.  The theories behind the Four Part Lesson Plan have since been updated, i acknowledge that and I look forward to examining the 2 new bits in the cycle.  However, the Four Part lesson plan is still grounded in excellent theory and adapted based on how those theories actually work in real life classrooms.

I know I work in a university, but one of the most important things in the whole world to me is that theory be useful.  I’ve spent so many years having ideas thrust upon me and then having to make them work.. It really should NEVER be presented to teachers like that!!  Active research is so much better for that and that’s what this planning technique is all about.

Now, at Shenley, we had a four part lesson planning template – We had a small one for every day use and large on for when we were being observed –  you can read more about that here.  However, I’d like to share with you (if I may) an adapted version.

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I’ve updated the top part of the plan to reflect the Australian Curriculum and removed all the English references that mean nothing to us here in Oz.  I wrote this for the pre-service teachers who were required to use this planning format for one of their assignments. It worked by the way… their plans were amazing.  I’m going to see if I can convince some of them to share their plans (and Notebook resources) at the CEGSA Conference next year.

The top part of the lesson plan can be left off if you like but it’s very handy when being observed by others as it helps to give them a context for the lesson.  I’ve annotated it here (click to make larger) so you can understand why it’s all there 🙂

As usual, the plan is licensed under Creative Commons so you can use and adapt it as you need.   Just remember to double click in the footer and edit the license – otherwise you’ll end up giving me rights to the plan you put on it!

Thank you to all of those who have already downloaded the app.  I know that paying for it must seem strange.  I used to only ever get free apps myself.  What I didn’t realise was that, to have an app in the store you have to pay nearly $100 annually to apple and then, for every app you sell, Apple take almost 30%… add that to hours of work that Matt and I put in and you can see how, as a local teacher, I need to try and recoup some costs 🙂  I hope you understand.

As for the Android users among us – I promise that it will be Android store before Christmas.  The one advantage of being very pregnant is that deadlines can not be ignored!!  It will definitely be in there by Christmas! 🙂  I’ve already set myself up as a Google Play person so it shouldn’t even be that long 🙂

If you are using the app and you have some feedback PLEASE feel free to share it with me.  This is the first time I’ve ventured into this kind of thing. I’m hoping it won’t be the last 🙂 Any advice or thoughts (or questions) are always happily received 🙂

Here’s what people have been saying via various social networks.  If any of you get time to review the app in the app store… I’d be eternally grateful 🙂