Using Google Docs for Teacher Planning

Earlier this year I wrote about the benefits of using Microsoft OneNote as a planning tool (Part 1, Part 2) for teachers to use with their class, week in and week out. I liked how the OneNote folder system could be flexible enough to include both Unit Plans and weekly plans in one place, and link between each of the subjects and daily plans. It is definitely a model that works really well.

However, after using it for a term, I have decided to revert back to planning using Google Docs. There are a number of reasons for this, which I won’t go into great deal with, but which include:

  • Schoolwide use of Google Docs – with students using Chromebooks, and other teachers finally using Google Docs more widely, to suddenly swap to Microsoft is likely to confuse things.
  • Familiarity of Google Drive – All my other files and documents are in Google Drive, and I spent most of 2015 integrating all my resources, files, planning etc into Google Docs.
  • Access across devices – While OneNote is available for Mac, iPhone, and online, it’s certainly not as available as Google Docs, which just requires a browser. The Mac version for example looks much different, and even has some differences in opening different Notebooks.
  • Actual Files, not Notebooks – One problem with Microsoft is they’ve built the whole package. Unfortunately, I quite like making archives and organised folders of topics and date based backups of my teaching, allowing me to find Units or lessons by subject, but also in a date based format so that if you want to know what we did in Term 3 of 2011, I can show you. However, because OneNote creates its own files, which can only open in OneNote, organising them into folders is not very easy.

Google Sheets

The title of this post is slightly misleading in that I don’t really use Google Docs for week to week planning. Instead, I built a template using Google Sheets. But for search engine benefits, Google Docs is a lot more prominent for what people mean by the Google Apps suite.

Firstly, I do use Google Docs to build my Unit plans. But for the weekly plan, the use of a grid is very much the basis for the plan, that using Google Sheets is a no brainer.

In addition to this, much like Excel, Google Sheets has the ability to create different sheets. This allows the teacher to create different weeks plans and overviews throughout the term, and therefore only have one Google Sheet for the term, and include in it all the different weekly plans.

Below I’ve attached a few examples of the way I’ve used Google Sheets for my planning. Hopefully this will give you a pretty good idea of how I use it.

Each day has a column, and then a guide of times throughout the day run down the left.

I’ve colour coded each subject, to make it more visual for my design aesthetic tendencies. Adding links into the plan is an awesome way of including resources, as Google Sheets is already in the browser, so having a link right there to the resource is a no brainer.

Each subject gets added to and can take more than a page each depending on the activity. Group work and other plans are also added into the whole week plan, rather than having separate plans to jump between all the time.

For another cool feature, for Maths groups I made a “Display” version which pulls the same data as my weekly plan, but puts it in a bigger font so I can display it on the screen and the students can refer to it so they know what work their group is doing each day.