Recommended Teaching Tech: Planboard

Teachers all have their own education apps or tech they use to help make learning more effective and enjoyable, but sometimes it’s useful to have something that makes life easier for themselves. One such application I’ve used over the last school year is Chalk.com’s Planboard.

As teachers, most of us make daily use of our planbooks – whether it be for planning lessons, recording marks and assessments, noting when the next staff meeting will take place, or reminding ourselves of what needs to be done after school. They are useful and many administrations expect that their teachers use them, both for encouraging good practice and showing accountability. I used to find it annoying having to carry a planbook back and forth to different places and found I could need access to it at the most inconvenient times when I didn’t have it with me. Enter Planboard.

Planboard is a web and mobile based application that allows teachers to input their class schedule and access it anywhere, which makes quick reference easy at any time. You don’t have to fill out page after page with your schedule, as must be done in paper planbooks, rather you create your timetable during setup, insert any holidays in the school year, and the app does the rest for you. You can see what your schedule will be months ahead of time.

planboardschedule

Above is my schedule from last school year. As you can see, you can colour code classes to make quick reference easier. Another helpful feature is being able to convert nearly everything in Planboard into a PDF file for emailing, recordkeeping, or printing.

This alone is nothing overly special, as one can easily print a blank timetable and fill it in, but what is really useful is that planboard allows you to write lesson plans for each class, just as you would in a planbook. I find this is actually more useful than a physical book, because I’m a faster typer than writer and there’s the option for inserting images, video, hypertext, attach files, and pretty much anything else you need. The fact that it quick saves constantly is super useful as well. The lesson space looks like this:

planboardsample

This is part of a lesson plan I left for a substitute teacher one day. You can see the course name and section, unit being covered, name of lesson or outcome being addressed, and details of the lesson. There’s also a useful sticky note, which can be used for reminders or other general information. Lessons can be viewed by day, as shown above, or by week, month, or unit. If I need to print a day’s lessons, I just click the PDF button in the top right of the page and Planboard creates a printable PDF that can be saved. The mobile version of the above looks something like this:

I like that I can plan lessons quickly from anywhere in a matter of moments. As teachers, we all know that often ideas come to mind at odd times, or when we aren’t in school, so having a quick and easy way to incorporate these things into what we do is useful. There are a lot of other interesting and useful details in the application that you’ll find if you take a little time to explore and make yourself familiar with them.

To this point, I’ve mostly used Planboard for daily lessons and recordkeeping, but there are options for creating unit plans and assigning lessons to each unit. You can also insert standards or outcomes that can be attached to units, or specific lessons, which is great when showing someone else what is being covered in the lesson, or for keeping yourself on track when it comes to covering those important outcomes.

Chalk.com has also added sections to Planboard like Markboard for recording assessments, attendance, and another for resources. Another great feature that Chalk.com has worked into this application is the ease with which sharing can occur, either through email, or among other users on the platform. I hope to try some of these in the future.

Planboard is a convenient way to do and combine some of the things that teachers do anyway, but anything that makes these parts of my job quicker or easier, so I can focus on teaching and the learning happening in my classroom is worth a little time to try out.

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Folk Music YouTube Channel

For anyone who knows me outside of teaching, I play a number of instruments, but primarily guitar and have recently bought a new Taylor 314ce. After a short hiatus from singing and playing, I have started to take up music again and have been enjoying it to the fullest.

I listen to and play a range of folk music, but mostly in the Newfoundland, Irish, Scottish, and English traditions. This music is very much of the people and covers a range of subjects, some of which I’ve found useful in my teaching. While I used to maintain a channel on YouTube to promote these folk traditions, I have since lost the ability to access and post to it. With this in mind, I’ve created a new channel,which will pick up where the old one left off.

Though this is a part of my life separate from teaching, it does cross over from time to time, so I may periodically include some of this content on this site. The channel is somewhat bare at the moment, but I will try to add to it regularly. Feel free to visit the channel if you feel so inclined.

I’ll end this post with a video from the channel, Eric Bogle’s “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. Cheers.

Review Materials for Final Exams

Review materials for final exams are ready for Social Studies 1211 and 3219. Study guides have been posted under the page for each course, and all course notes are there as well. I will add a link to Quizlet sets for anyone interested in using those (this applies to 3219).

I’ve been asked about providing an extra help or tutorial session on the Saturday or Sunday before the 3219 final. I am not sure of my availability for this just yet, but will post an announcement through Remind when I know what is likely to happen. As always, feel free to email or text if you have any questions during your review.

Muskrat Falls and Activism

Photo by Justin Brake of the Independent.

In Social Studies 1211 we recently finished a unit that included a topic on civil disobedience and resistance methods in activism. We discussed how these ideas sometimes cross the line between the legal and illegal, but sometimes groups feel they have no alternative, but to try whatever they can to make positive change occur. The question arises: is illegal action ever okay?

The development of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador has had its supporters and opponents, but is nonetheless going forward with development. Some positives of this project include job creation, increased electrical power supply for the province, and potential revenue made from the sale of surplus power to other parts of North America. That said, there are some significant concerns about environmental damage (flooding and methylmercury contamination) and the health impacts the project can have on people living in Labrador, particularly Innu and Inuit First Nations groups.

Justin Brake of The Independent recently wrote an article covering these concerns, but also (and of concern to us in Social Studies 1211) the activism occurring around the site of Muskrat Falls. There have been protests and a blockade in the last few days that has disrupted further development at the site by preventing workers from getting in or out. In addition to this, there has been a hunger strike conducted by Billy Gauthier, which contests further work on the site until Nalcor agrees to properly address environmental and human concerns.

I encourage you to follow the link above to read a little more on the issue. Activism is not something reserved for the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., – it is happening all around us and in our province as we speak.