For years, it was a familiar scene on Friday afternoons in the Iberia Parish School District in Louisiana: principals lugging home armfuls of large lesson plan books to review over the weekend. And for these administrators, as for their counterparts across the country, the job of inspecting each teacher’s plans for the coming week took on even more importance with the focus in recent years on meeting state curriculum standards.
Today, though, the heavy lesson plan books are a thing of the past in Iberia Parish, as is the tedious task for principals of manually examining lesson plan pages to check for coverage of key learning standards. Thanks to OnCourse Lesson Planner, an Web-based tool for creating and reviewing lesson plans, the district’s entire lesson planning process has been streamlined.
“Our superintendent saw the product at a neighboring district and recognized that it was a way to ful?ll his goal of a paperless system,” says Dianne LeBlanc, supervisor of technology at the 14,000-student district. “Since we’ve been using the product, teachers are able to create and share lesson plans online, while administrators are able to review lesson plans online at home or at school in a more effective, less time- consuming manner.”
In addition to ensuring that all lesson plans are consistent and complete, OnCourse Lesson Planner automates routine aspects of lesson plan preparation and enables every teacher to easily create and maintain a Web page for posting assignments and class news. Those Web pages are updated automatically from the lesson plans, and most teachers post additional information to keep parents up-to-date. “Parents quickly caught on to the concept of checking student homework assignments and accessing Web resources from the teacher Web pages,” says LeBlanc.
Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of OnCourse Lesson Planner is that it includes learning standards for every state, making it easy for teachers to align their lessons with their own state’s curriculum standards. A new feature allows administrators to flag selected state standards with high importance to the district, so teachers get a recurring reminder to address those so-called “power standards” in their weekly lesson plans. Administrators can generate reports that show how often the power standards show up in lesson plans, and which teachers may need additional reminders about them. Added by OnCourse after feedback from users, the power standards feature also facilitates assessment on key standards to ensure mastery by all students.
“This new feature is a testament to OnCourse’s willingness to listen to its customers and its ability to provide improvements that can have a positive impact on student achievement,” says LeBlanc.
In addition to simplifying the process of creating and reviewing lesson plans, OnCourse Lesson Planner has also improved instruction in the Iberia Parish School District because it fosters collaboration between teachers, principals and curriculum supervisors, according to LeBlanc. “Teachers are working together in lesson plan design, providing an opportunity for experienced teachers to mentor teachers with less experience,” she says. “It also builds accountability because teachers are aware that lesson plans can be viewed and reports can be obtained at any time.”
In the three years since OnCourse Lesson Planner was implemented in all 30 of the district’s schools, the program has become ingrained into the daily lives of teachers and administrators, LeBlanc says. “Everyone is using it,” she explains. “I cannot think of anyone who would want to go back to traditional pen and paper.”
For more information please visit www.OnCourseSystems.com or call 800.899.7204.