Friday, April 23, 2010

TOS Crew Review -- Lesson Planet

Ideas and inspiration. Always looking for some of that, right? Lesson Planet is one website that tries to offer just that. They have lesson plans, worksheets, and ideas to fill your academic calendar.

Product: Lesson Planet
Details: Lesson Planet offers over 225,000 lesson plans to help educators find classroom tested and rated ideas for various topics of study.
Price: $39.95 per year after a free 10 day trial period.

What we loved . . .
  • LOTS of ideas. Just about any topic you find yourself studying, you can find corresponding lesson plans on the Lesson Planet site. When searching for ideas on fossils recently it came up with 1700 related plans.
  • Good search options. When searching, aside from the place to type in the subject you need ideas for, you can also search by grade level and the rating level that other users have given the specific lesson plan. You can also browse based on subject if you would prefer (art and music, health and nutrition, math, Language Arts, geography, science, education, social studies, and research resources).
  • Worksheets. If you just want a worksheet to print off to go along with your study, you can search specifically for those as well. These include puzzles and fun activities as well as fill in the blank worksheets that review or introduce the material being covered. (note that these do not always have answer keys included, so be sure to check as you browse these).
  • A thinking site. I like that the site helps you find what you are looking for. It lists your recent searches in case you want to look back at something again. It also provides a list of related searches, and a list of words to use if you would like to narrow your search further.
  • Calendar based ideas. The site also offers a calendar with significant historical events listed. If you ever lacking for something to do on a given day, you can see what happened on that day in history and pull up lots of activities to go along with it.

Some considerations . . .

  • Various worldviews represented. This is not a Christian site. When I searched the word "Christian" it came up with four worksheets -- one about the Easter bunny, one about Christmas, one about St. Patrick's Day, and the last a vocabulary matching page that referenced Christianity. Many of the lesson plans that I viewed on various topics were not ones I would find helpful because they do not come from a Biblical worldview.
  • Very formal. Some might definitely see this as a positive as the lesson plans are organized and often contain clear objectives, assignments, and instructions. We have a bit of a laid back style, and I don't need all of that to have a productive learning time. I felt like I had to sift through the technical jargon in some to get to the real lesson.
  • Mostly built for classes. While most activities can be adapted for in-home use, many are group projects, or contain what seems to me as busy work that is more needed in a large classroom. You can still definitely glean ideas, information, and resources, but for the most part, it is not designed for use within a homeschool environment.
  • Not much easier than google. Although it does bring up lots of relevant lesson plans, I didn't necessarily find it any easier or better than just doing a google search for the same topic.

I could see this site being quite helpful to a regular classroom teacher. Or, I could see it being useful if you want to put together your own curriculum with your own topics in a formal way, but not have to actually compile lesson plans and ideas yourself. A co-op teacher might find these types of plans helpful to flesh out their weekly classroom time. For me, I didn't find it very helpful to our homeschool format. Lots of information, but not a lot that looked like it would fit in our situation, and not a lot that lined up with my teaching methodology or my Christian foundational principles.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This web membership was provided to me free of charge through Lesson Planet as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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