Curriculum Planning: Bringing it together with Google Apps

So I’ve recently been playing around with the tools of Google Apps for Education to test the possibility of creating some form of Curriculum Mapping – or at least curriculum document gathering.

It turns out that, with a little set-up time, it’s actually quite possible to make use of Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sites to create a centre to complete backward-by-design planners and long range planners as well as to gather resources and specific lesson ideas. So, I will do my best to explain the simple set-up that I have so far and how I got there.

So my initial goals in undertaking this endeavour were to:

  • Make more consistent use of backward-by-design planners for math, reading and writing units.
  • Develop a more thorough, consistent and coherent long range plan.
  • To bring all curriculum area planners into one place, including PYP planners, math, reading and writing.
  • To allow better collaboration of planning amongst the team.
  • To bring resources together with planning documents.
  • To have one, continuously updated version of planners and resources, rather than a new document every year leading to years of unused files and folders being lost on the abyss of a network drive.

The basis for all of this is around a Google Site specifically for the team’s planning. It a very simple site with most links made from the home page (click the image to the right to see the layout and links). Included in the site are resource pages specific for each curriculum area (eg. math resources, reading resources, etc). These pages are ‘File Cabinet’ pages where documents and other files are simply attached ready for download when needed.

The next most heavily utilised App is Google Docs. I have made use of this for two specific types of planning documents:

  • Spreadsheet Form: a form for each curriculum area has been created to complete new unit plans. This is where the backward-by-design planning comes in to play. The forms have fields such as Central Idea (enduring understanding), Key Questions, Assessments, curriculum outcomes addressed, etc. When a new unit is being planned, the form is filled in by the team and when submitted is entered into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet can be viewed as a list (View menu -> List view) which allows for easy sorting according to date, subject area, unit topic, etc.
  • Doc: A doc is also created for each specific unit (eg. Writing – poetry, Maths – fractions, etc). This Doc will have more specific learning outcomes or objectives, learning experiences, and link/refer to resources that can be websites, books, other docs or files on the resources page in the Site.

Each of these planning documents can then be added to, updated, changed – ultimately improved – each year.

The final part of all of this is use of Google Calendar to create a long range plan. The calendar is used to create events lasting the length of a specific unit (eg. Maths – fractions). This is simply to give the team members a sense of how long the unit should be and what’s up next. One of the good features of this however, is that within the event details you can link to a Google Doc. So, within each event (eg. Maths – fractions) there is the specific unit planner with all of the learning outcomes, activities and resources (as mentioned above). Very handy! Ultimately, I would love it if an event could be created based on the spreadsheet items from above, but at the moment it is a matter of entering it separately.

I hope this is as clear as mud!

I do realise that there is other software out there, such as Rubicon Atlas, but this gives a free alternative to schools who don’t make use of this type of software. With the developments that occur with Google Apps, I can only see the capability of these type of curriculum development ideas enhancing.

Please give this a go and let me know how it goes. I think the more people working to make creative use of the tools offered by Google, the more creative the ideas will become.

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