Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Lesson Planet

Like the logo above says, Lesson Planet is a great search engine for teachers.  There are lesson plans (over 150,000 of them), worksheets (75,000), state standards, and more.  And these materials cover grades K-12, and topics in the core subjects (math, language arts, science, social studies) and a multitude of other subjects (art and music, health and nutrition, geography, research, education)

I found some interesting stuff in here, but I've never been an education major, and most of the standards-based stuff is distracting or confusing to me.  I think this would be a fantastic site for teachers.  I think it could be a great site for homeschool moms with a teaching background.  And I think it could be a great site for people teaching in a co-op setting.

Seeing as I don't fit any of those, and seeing as I don't tend towards a lot of worksheets... well, I don't feel qualified to say much at all about this site and its merits.

There is, however, a homeschooler section, run by Kristin Kindoll, that does seem to offer a more easily understood (by non eduction major me) way of accessing the site.  She posts  articles and links to her favorite lesson plans.  I found by going through this homeschooling section I was able to find materials I could adapt to my school.

For example, in March (there is an archive of past articles) she posted an article on Hans Christian Andersen.  This consists of a few paragraphs about Andersen, and links to four lesson plans:

  1. Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales -- this lesson plan includes a fair amount of background information, and has you go through five Andersen stories with discussion questions and activity suggestions.  This is a lesson plan that I do find helpful, and we are using it.
  2. Fairy Tale Journey -- this lesson plan is bare-bones, and has the kids listen to a fairy tale and then write one starring themselves.  I don't find this one to be even remotely useful to me.
  3. Denmark, the Landscapes -- this lesson is very classroom oriented, and filled with all kinds of things like writing imaginary travel journals.  While I love the idea of studying Denmark in conjunction with a study of Anderson, this particular plan is not something that I find useful.
  4. The Ugly Duckling, a Discussion of Human Rights -- this is a straightforward lesson plan that mostly involves reading the story and discussing it.  I could see where something like this might have helped me when I was just starting out, but at this point, I can hold discussions about literature with my kids without the aid of discussion questions like "Have other children ever laughed at you?" being suggested to me.
From the things I looked at in the homeschool section of Lesson Planet, I think the above is representative.  There would be good background information in Kristin's article, and probably about one in four of the suggested lesson plans would be one I thought I could use with some tweaking.  And maybe another one in four would give me an idea that I could use to create my own lesson.

One problem though is that I counted a total of 31 articles in the homeschooling section, and not all of those are exactly lesson plans.  So you are kind of limited at this point in how useful this section can be.  One thing I noticed in working through the article archives, though, is that I could create a civics plan from what is presented here -- there are four articles on democracy.  And there is an article on CSI Lesson Plans that is intriguing.  There's an article on Treasure Island, and one on Mark Twain.  Weather is covered, as are Earthquakes, and Magnetism.  So a lot of the articles do appeal to me.  But still, this is not a service I'd pay for at this point in life.

It is not a good fit for me.  But it might be for you.  They do offer a free 10 day trial, so if what I wrote intrigues you, please go check it out.  Membership is $39.95 per year.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Lesson Planet, both the speech program and their games, at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive member access to the Lesson Planet website for free.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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