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"...This is an excellent program. I'm so glad that I stumbled on to this when researching for task management programs. Very low learning curv, quite flexible, and the price is right. Tried at least 20 other programs, either too complicated, too expensive, or poor documentation..."
Chad Lindsey -
Honolulu, HI

Lesson planning


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By Serge Toper, ESL Teacher

To Do List for Lesson planning.

   What I like about lesson planning is messing it up. Though a teacher's success depends greatly on his or her ability for lesson planning, it is often 'rules breaking' that makes a teacher successful. Lessons are like life, they never go as planned. That's why lesson planning for me is rather a 'to do list' than a schedule. It shows me what I should do and at the same time lets me choose the best moment for each task. Still here are some 'unbreakable rules' I follow while lesson planning.

Rule 1. Be ready.

   Teachers are not 'walking libraries' and can't know everything (unfortunately when years pass some of them forget about it and begin to suffer from this disease). However that doesn't mean you are free from getting ready to answer questions within the educational program. If you are a foreign language teacher and don't know the translation of the word from the text book you use to teach your students, this means that you are either not competent or not ready (That is my case and I go hot every time this happens). It will take your students a second to figure out that you are not ready for the lesson. To avoid this situation I start up VIP Organizer and press Ctrl+Alt+A to brainstorm the things I should do for my lesson to succeed.

VIP Organizer
Rule 2. Divide and rule.

   After brainstorming my lesson planning list is a mess. Some tasks belong to the lesson itself, some to lesson preparation. To bring some order into my life generally and into lesson planning particularly I subsume each task under appropriate category, i.e. 'lesson plan' and 'lesson preparation'. It is very helpful when I need to quickly sort my tasks: I just drag the column 'Category' and drop it on special space above the grid.

VIP Organizer
Rule 3. Never put off till tomorrow…

   …what you can do the day after tomorrow ;-) if it is not a lesson day, of course. Usually I use 'Due Date' only for those tasks which belong to lesson preparation category. Setting the deadlines for each task is a project management game for me. For example I can't start carrying out 'print and cut Can-Could Quiz into cards' before I finished 'write down questions for Can-Could Quiz'. When I feel I will forget to complete a task on time I set a reminder which pops up on the screen before the due date is over.

VIP Organizer
Rule 4. Put the first things first.

   Priority tool is one of my favorites. I plan up to 15 activities for an average lesson and it seams impossible to do them all. Some of them are from 'plan B' (in case my students are not ready with their homework) but when I manage to do only half of them I feel I didn't succeed. Prioritizing solves this problem. I mark obligatory tasks 'urgent' or 'highest', others leave 'normal' or 'low'. I start the lesson with important issues and don't get upset when there is no time left for ones that matter little.

Rule 5. Make hay so you don't lose the needle.

   Last but not the least is Hyperlink. It's a real treasure for me. I have so many documents that are stored in files which are hidden in dozens of embedded categories and subcategories. To open document 'Can-Could Quiz' I need to walk a long way: English/grammar/accidence/parts of speech/verbs/modal verbs/. Each day a new question for a quiz comes into my head and I go this way to write it down. No more. Now I create task 'write questions for Can-Could Quiz' and set a Hyperlink to the doc file.

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