Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: Lesson Planet

I had never heard of Lesson Planet before I received a 3-month subscription to give it a test drive for review.

The simple description of Lesson Planet is it is a search engine for teachers and parents. The website has over 225,000 lesson plans and worksheets to browse, categorized in a number of ways. The video clip below will give an idea of how one would search for particular topics on the website.

The benefit to using Lesson Planet over Google is the resulting search items are "teacher approved" and rated. There are also teacher support features, such as Subject Guide Teachers, including a Homeschooling Guide. For those who like to plan certain activities and lessons based on special holidays and events, there is a special feature just for you: the Curriculum Calender. The Curriculum Calendar lists as special event for every day and includes links to related searches on the website. For example, today's event is "First volume of Isaac Newton's "Principia" is published in 1686" and included searches are: Isaac Newton, Universal Gravitation, and Laws of Motion. In general, Lesson Planet is designed to make a teacher's life a bit easier.

So, how did it work for me? Let me preface my answer with the fact that I don't exactly use general lesson plans. And, well, I don't often use worksheets outside of our normal curriculum either. I'm also pretty proficient with using Google when I do need something like a worksheet.

That said, I did try to give Lesson Planet a whirl. I found that sometimes the search engine was a bit finicky. For example, I searched for "guitar" because my son has been asking to learn how to play. I didn't expect to find many "guitar" worksheets, but was curious if something on chords would come up. My search came up with 115 results, but many were worksheets that just contained the word "guitar" rather than actually being about the guitar. Granted, there were a few guitar-related results, but there was also worksheets on usage of the telephone directory, the scientific method, and math story problems. I tried to search for some items that were a bit more "schooly", but had similar results. The search 'SAT essay' came up with many results, but most weren't specific to the SAT. I then put the search word in quotes and only came up with zero worksheets and two lesson plans, though one had nothing to do with the SAT exam. Next, I tried "Diary of Anne Frank" with a specification of worksheets with a 3 star rating or more. I had six results, with one dead link. Requesting any star rating turned up 7 results, but the extra result wasn't directly related. A note on the dead links. I found a handful of dead links in my searches, which I suspect would be hard to avoid with the ever-changing world of the internet. The website, however, does allow you to report them.

Given my homeschooling style, this isn't a very useful tool for me. Though it sounds like I didn't come up with much, each result was indeed education related. I can see if I were teaching a class and needed to quickly find a worksheet or lesson plan on a subject for my class, this might work well. A person who has trouble finding what they need from Google may like the ability to search just educational sites. I think most schoolroom teachers would appreciate it as a time saver. Most of the resulting sites are geared toward a classroom. I did find some useful things with each search, though often things I wouldn't personally wouldn't use. The website functions exactly as it promises; it just doesn't fit in very well with our homeschool.

The good news is that Lesson Planet offers a free 10-day trial at no obligation for you to find out how it might work in your homeschool. If it is a fit and you'd like to continue, membership costs $39.95 a year. Visit Lesson Planet for more details or to start your trial.

Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew's blog to read more reviews on this product and others.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

1 comment:

Gingerbread Mommy said...

Huh, I never saw the "Homeschooling Guide" until you pointed it out. Maybe I should have been nicer?!