Lesson Planning Made Easy
AGerman professional development seminar titled How
a 30 Dollar Piece of Software Changed My Life provides
one example of how a program
that a high school teacher designed out of frustration is taking
root around the world.
That program, called Planbook,
is lesson planning software with an
easy-to-use interface that allows
teachers to input data as basic or
complex as they like. The software
can create a plan based on a basic
week with no variations from day
to day or devise a more complicated schedule that changes each day.
Educators can adjust for holidays
and snow days, and they can add
lessons on the weekends
or at night.
Jeff Hellman, a high school science teacher in Elmira, Oregon,
started developing Planbook two-and-a-half years ago after he got
tired of using Excel to keep track
of his lesson plans.
“I distinctly remember being
given my first paper plan book by
my principal and thinking, ‘This is
ridiculous—why isn’t this done on
the computer?’ ” Hellman says.
My inspiration was to save
myself time during the day
and stop copying information
over and over again.
He tried Excel, but it lacked the
capability to move lessons around
to deal with changes in schedules.
It also wouldn’t allow him to share
his lesson plans with parents or
other teachers. He found himself
printing out copies of lessons and
rewriting them on special forms.
“My inspiration was to save myself time during the day and stop
copying information over and over
again,” he said. “But I wound up
with a program that literally thousands of teachers use daily.”
Hellman used CoreData, a Mac
tool, to write Planbook. He spent
the first year writing the beta version and in the fall of 2007 released
version 1.0. The following year,
Hellman refined the Mac version
and started working on a Windows
version that was released a year ago.
Now in his fifth year of teaching,
Hellman is watching his creation
spread far and wide. Teachers of all
grade levels from around the world
are using his product to simplify
their record keeping and to easily
s hare students” information with
parents. Teachers are also using
P lanbook to attach files such as
worksheets or reading assignments,
to export content to the Web, and
to search for previous lessons.
Planbook costs $30. For more
information or for a free trial, visit
—Kaya Hardin is an ISTE intern. She
graduates in June from the University of
Oregon with a degree in journalism.