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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: Lesson Planet

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As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received free access to Lesson Planet for review purposes. I received no compensation. This review reflects my personal experiences and honest opinion.

How would you like a search engine that would bring up nothing but relevant lesson plans for your key words, complete with short summaries and recommended grade levels? Or to click a tab and retrieve some equally relevant worksheets on the same topic? Lesson Planet might be just what you are looking for. With over 150,000 teacher reviewed lesson plans and 75,000 worksheets, there’s something here for just about any topic you can think of.

Other features:

  • subject “guides” with helpful articles
  • browse by subject or theme
  • search by key words, grade level or rating (worksheets can also be searched by type)
  • a monthly calendar filled with historical trivia hyperlinked to relevant lesson plans
  • state and national standards for easy reference
  • you can save searches and search results
  • lesson maker
  • newsletter maker
  • online storage

Type in key words, select a grade level, hit search, and you have a whole list of possibilities at your fingertips:lessonplanet screenshot1The actual lesson plans and worksheets themselves are hosted by sundry sites (not owned by Lesson Planet) belonging to teachers and others who have developed them. Quality of the lessons and worksheets varies widely, since they are coming from a number of different sources, so Lesson Planet has also added a rating system, allowing users to rate and even write reviews for the lesson plans.

All of the lessons I checked out had their tidy list of objectives, state standards, time required, etc. They are designed for classroom use, but many could be used as is or modified easily for home education. I found a few broken links, but very few, and there are links provided for reporting broken links.

So, would I buy a subscription? Probably not. I do a lot of research on the internet looking for neat ideas to fill out our lessons. I’m all for a service that might make that easier, however I found it difficult to find what I was looking for with Lesson Planet…unless I knew exactly what I was looking for.

The browse option is unwieldy. If I wanted, for example, to browse for a lesson on integers, the search turns up over 100 pages of results! I can narrow it down some by choosing a subcategory, but, and this surprised me, it doesn’t give me the option of narrowing it down by grade level. Or ordering the results in any way.

The search function is much more manageable (the advanced search function even allows you choose the “technology” used, the “teaching method,” even the duration of the lesson), though it does require that you know what you are looking for to get it down to a manageable number of results. In other words, it’s useful if you have a particular need to fill, but if you’re just browsing for ideas, you’re liable to get bogged down.

They do have a free trial available, so it’s worth a look.

For more reviews from the TOS Homeschool Crew, be sure to visit:

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