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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

My Digital and Paper Hybrid Planning System

I often see the debate among teachers over digital vs paper planning, but the truth is there are benefits to both! In fact although I consider myself a paper planner at heart, I use both for my lesson planning and I think I get the best of both worlds without duplicating my work. Here's how I use each one, and why I think it works best this way.

1. Paper

If I had a dollar for every time someone sees me pull out my paper planner and launches into an advertisement for their favorite calendar app.... I truly do think there's something about physically writing things down that helps me process and remember things so much better, and I find I can set things up better visually to see everything I want to see at once instead of scrolling and clicking around to find what I need. My paper planners also serve as a creative outlet for me- I like to decorate my pages like a scrapbook- but even if you're not into that sort of thing I think there is merit to paper planning for day-to-day. 

I use paper planning for:

  • weekly and monthly calendars, with everything (meals, lesson plans, appointments, birthdays, etc) consolidated in one place
  • running to-do lists
  • brain dumping (especially for things like concerts or new curricular units)
I keep paper copies of other things in my paper planner, just to have it available, but those are the things I truly rely on my written plans for and I think are better suited for paper planning. Sure, these can all be done digitally as well, but my brain just doesn't process it the same way on a screen.

2. Digital

As much as I love paper planning though, there are definitely areas of planning for which digital planning is much better suited! For anything I want to keep and reference long-term, or things that don't require a lot of thinking through on my part, digital planning is definitely better because I can save it without needing a mountain of papers to sort through!

I use digital planning for:

  • curriculum outlines by grade
  • lesson plan ideas by month for each grade
  • grades and attendance
  • student contact information
  • concert and performance plans/ repertoire 
Could I keep paper copies of all of these? Yes, and in the past that was what I did. But for things that I want to store and reference for years to come, having a running document saved digitally is far more helpful than a piece of paper, and I can add in links, copy and paste, and otherwise organize everything to keep it more streamlined. I do keep notes to myself on performance task assessments I grade in class on paper, but I transfer those to our district's online grading platform when I am figuring out report card grades and keep all other grades there, so I don't have to go looking for things when it's report card time.

I think the key here is to think about the purpose of your planning, then figure out how to best accomplish that, realizing that not every part of planning will be best served by the same system! As with most things in life, there is no dichotomy here- we don't have to pick a team, we can take the best from everything to do what works best!

Are you a paper planner, digital planner, or a hybrid planner? I know everyone has their own system, and I'd love to hear yours! If you want to read more about how I plan my curriculum and monthly lessons digitally, and write out my weekly lessons in my paper planner, here's a good post that explains my system. If you want to see the paper planner I use to consolidate everything on a monthly and weekly basis to keep me on track, here's a walk through of my entire planner. And if you're a die-hard digital planner, did you know you can use the same planner templates digitally? This post has a tutorial on how to do that. 

If you're new to the world of Organized Chaos planning, or just need more planner content in your life, you can find all of my planner-related posts right here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

April Highlights 2021

April is probably my favorite month of the year. I love the change in weather, all the blooms that come out, and the mood in the classroom- people aren't super antsy for summer yet but more cheerful since we aren't cooped up inside all day any more. This April brought some extra fun and excitement for me! Here are some of the highlights from the past month.

1. Back in the Classroom


After teaching on a cart all school year, I got my room back!! The joy and relief I felt when I finished my last lesson on a cart was indescribable. It was a bit of a scramble putting my classroom together, since I was only given 2 hours to move in and set up, but I am so very happy to have my own space again and the students have been thrilled as well (several classes cheered when they came in for the first time)! If you want to see how my room is set up to teach synchronously with social distancing, you can see the full tour in this post.

2. Blooming Trees


One nice surprise when I moved back into my classroom was realizing I had made it back just in time to enjoy the blooming tree outside my classroom window (pictured on the left)! It is a beautiful tree and always one of the first to bloom at the beginning of spring, so I'm so glad I was able to enjoy it this year- last year the building was closed when it bloomed and I had to drive over to school several times just to visit it from the outside! The other important highlight from every April, though, is the sakura. Growing up in Japan, going to see the cherry blossoms was an annual tradition that marked the spring season for me, so I'm grateful my current city has a square with lined with sakura, complete with an annual cherry blossom festival, so we can keep that tradition going! 

3. Music Education Posts

Every week I share my favorite music education content on my Facebook page- here are the ones I found this month! Click each image to read the posts- they are all excellent reads.