Teaching Schedule

Material escolarI received my teaching schedule for next year. I am stepping back into some comfortable areas as well as taking on some new challenges.

I will be teaching two sections (two levels) of British Literature and Composition, same as I did this year, and I will also be teaching my Hero with a Thousand Faces elective first semester and Writing Seminar II second semester. I have taught Writing Seminar II for at least second semester, if not for the whole year, ever since the course was created. The reason for that is the academic research paper is assigned for all tenth graders, including those in that Writing Seminar class, during second semester. Teaching the research paper is one of my areas of expertise, which sounds really self-congratulatory, and I’m not usually like that, but I do understand why I am consistently given the task by my principal.

I am returning to American Literature and Composition, which I haven’t taught for a few years. I already used this word, but that curriculum feels comfortable to me. It will be good to get back into again. I really did kind of miss it.

I am taking on the new challenge of teaching Journalism and running our school paper. I have taught a Journalism course before in middle school, and I feel the course was great considering the lack of support I received by the administration and the lack of materials I received. Aside from getting a local car dealership to underwrite a two-day a week subscription to the newspaper, I had no teaching materials. In my new position, I will have computer access and software, a few seasoned newspaper veterans in the class, and I would wager I’ll have all the support I will need to make a go of it.

As I gave the teacher edition of one of the 9th grade literature anthologies to the teacher who will teach the class next year, I remarked to her that I had taught that course (Grammar, Composition, and Literature CP2) since its inception at our school. Wow. That has been for the last six years. I have taught ninth grade for every year of my high school teaching career. That means teaching Romeo and Juliet and The Odyssey every year for 10 years. It was wearing thin, and when I realized a couple of years ago that I was no longer enjoying teaching even these favorites, I knew I needed a break. Maybe I won’t mind coming back to it after a rest.

I think I have decided not to buy a Teacher’s Daybook this year. I find Jim Burke’s planner to be the best I’ve ever used. It’s flexible, but one struggle I’ve had is that I have a lot of preps and a strange alternating schedule, and in my search for a planner that works better for me, I found this: Planbook by Hellmansoft. The video demonstration gives you a good idea of all the planner can do, but here’s a great description from the site:

Planbook is a lesson planning application developed by Jeff Hellman, a high school science teacher. Planbook is designed to completely replace your paper plan book with an intuitive application that lets you harness the power of the computer to make your lesson planning time more productive. You can enter the schedule that you teach (rotating and A/B schedule are easily handled), quickly enter lesson information, attach files to lessons, track standards, print hard copies of your plans and publish your plans to the web for students, parents and other education professionals and more.

Planbook is simple enough to use that you’ll get going in no time, but robust enough to deal with schedule changes, days with abnormal schedules and just about anything else that comes at you.

Given the price, and given all the strangeness in my schedule, as well as all the features and the fact that its on the computer, it just makes sense. I can use iCal or Things to manage any reminders for non-instructional tasks (such as due dates for college letters or recommendation or meetings).

I’m looking forward to next year. I think it will be a good year.

Creative Commons License photo credit: sergis blog

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18 thoughts on “Teaching Schedule

    • No, I actually haven't downloaded it yet. Waiting for payday. Actually, I might go ahead and download the trial. The author said it's free for up to 20 lessons, so I assume I can play with it in terms of adding a schedule, etc. and report back.

  1. Just curious as to what your bell schedule looks like at your school. I'm having a hard time figuring out what your day to day would look like, and have to admit to feeling overwhelmed just looking at all the preps you have. I will say that one nice thing about my straight 4×4 block is that I have very few preps, and 1.5 hours of plan time a day.

    • On the surface, the schedule looks weird, but you adjust and learn. We are on a 3-day rotation (A, B, C). On A days, blocks 1-6 meet. On B days, blocks 7-9 and 1-3 meet. On C days, blocks 4-9 meet. Over a 15-day series of rotations, you wind up meeting each class 10 times, so three weeks is really like two weeks. Yikes. Anyway, the times are off, too. We have hour-long classes with three minutes between each class. We have about 40-45 minutes, I can't remember which, for prayers or morning program or a faculty meeting each Wednesday.

  2. I took a break teaching 9th graders about three years ago, and I miss them (and the curriculum) dearly. Being the gateway for young students reading The Odyssey for the first time and recognizing allusions is such a reward. Ditto for Romeo and Juliet and all the other wonderful freshmen books. Good luck with Journalism and your new endeavors!

  3. !!

    You're going to be a Journalism teacher too! Yay! How exciting. It sounds like next year is already shaping up to be pretty awesome!

  4. Dana, did you investigate any other lesson planning software? I've downloaded the trial of planbook and it's way better than planbookedu.com (which has the benefit of being free). Now I'm looking at ilessonplan.com, which is web-based, but $30/year. It's awful purty though. :) Just wondering if you had any thoughts on these or others.

    • I didn't. I would prefer not to have to pay per year and just own the software, and I have to have something that can accommodate my weird schedule. I will check them out. I have downloaded the trial version of Planbook, and I really like it so far.

  5. Wow, I thought our schedule was weird! We have a ten-day block schedule, so classes happen either on odd or even days, and we have three 70 minute periods a day as well as a 40-minute 4th period and a 30-minute fifth period. Once a ten-day cycle, some classes have a "bump" class during fourth period.

    Next year, I'll be teaching all ninth grade for the first time, and I'm looking forward to it! Wish we did the Odyssey though–our students read it in eighth grade, but maybe someday…..

    • Yeah, our schedule takes some adjusting to. The Odyssey is fun. I hope you get a chance to teach it some time. I need to give it a rest, myself.

  6. I downloaded the trial version, too, but I couldn't do some of the things I thought I saw on the video. So, I'm very interested in the full version. Have you bought it yet, and could you post what you think after having played with it awhile? Thanks!

    • I haven't played with it much, but I did go ahead and get the full version. I like it. I imported GPS and NCTE and ISTE standards so it will be easy to use them with my lessons. You can color-code classes. It even handled our weird schedule easily. I recommend it.

  7. Did you download the Planbook for Mac or for Windows? I'm asking because there seems to be a discrepancy between the two versions. I noticed that on the video he was using the Mac version. Some of the items he showed do not seem to be available on the Windows version (or maybe I can't find them). I e-mailed a help question to him, and I hope to hear an answer soon.

      • Okay, so I figured out that the Windows version is different from the Mac version in that it doesn't always have the same capabilities. Last night he posted an update that will now allow the Windows version to import the standards. He provided a link to the page that showed how to use .csv files. So my question to you is about the GPS. Did you have any trouble converting them to that type of file or did you find them already in that type of file on the Internet? I haven't asked my husband (computer whiz) yet because I try to do as much as I can before I break down and ask him. Any help would be appreciated.

        • I didn't convert them. They're online as PDF's. I think I just copied and pasted them into the program. I am not sure whether PDF's can be converted to CSV files or not.

  8. Okay. I thought originally that that was what I was going to have to do–copy and paste them. But when you said you imported them, I thought maybe you had found a way to do it the way he describes. It's most likely better anyway to just copy and paste because the formatting would probably be weird or it would be too time-consuming to try to convert the files. Thanks for your help.

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