This blog was originally published on TeacherCast by @JeffBradbury. Jeffrey Bradbury is a Music Theory and Music History teacher at a high school in the North Brunswick Township.
It’s 9pm Sunday night, and you have no idea what to do in class Monday morning. You know that you have to teach, but you are tired of the same old lessons and tricks that you have been using year after year with the same results. You search through dozens of websites on Google only to find content and not concepts. This doesn’t help you. Remembering that you have a great PLN, you take to Twitter and Facebook and ask for help…. but nobody responds with the information you need.
It’s 11pm Sunday night, your eyes area bloodshot and you still haven’t a clue how to be innovative. What does a teacher do?
The answer is actually simpler than one would expect… you CLACO it!
Claco? What is that?
Claco (pronounced CLAY-Ko) is a new, simple, innovative way for teachers to search for, post, and share lesson plan ideas with each other. It is a free web tool that combines innovation with social media to give teachers a way to visually organize and comment on teaching practices, lesson concepts, and materials to give students around the world a better experience in the classrooms.
Launched in September of 2012, Claco is quickly growing into a one stop shop for both new and veterine teachers wishing to share, organize and pass on lesson plans from all subject areas and grade levels. The best part is … Claco is VERY simple to use.
Why use Claco?
Claco is a repository for teachers to view and share lesson plans. This takes all the guess work out of the late night Google Search for materials. It is a free system open to all teachers both young and old, and of all subject areas. It is also the website that I will be turning to this year to not only find lesson plans that might be useful for my classroom, but a place for me to reach out and search for educators across the world who teach the same subjects that I do. Claco is not just a site for lesson plans, but also an innovative educational social network where teachers can connect and share ideas, as well as comment on lesson plan ideas. It truly is one of the most complete teaching systems on the web today, and it’s only just getting it’s feet off the ground.
How to sign up for Claco?
To sign up for Claco, simply visit their website and click the login button on the top. Teachers simply have to input some brief information and then they are off to the races. Like any social network, the best thing to do is take some time and look around. Teachers can search for various lesson plans, topics, and even grade levels. (something I really wish I had at 11pm at night while doing Google Searches) Once your account is created, it is suggested that you complete the user experience by adding a photo of yourself, connecting Claco to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and completing the bio. Just like any other network, the more information you share, the more people will want to share with you. This is also helpful when you are searching for teachers in the same subject/grade as you.
My profile is up… Now what?
Ok… so you’re in! Congratulations… What’s next?
Searching through other educators posted lesson plans couldn’t be easier. All of the content listed on Claco has the ability to have meta data attached to it for better search results. You will want to learn how to do this when posting your own lesson materials.
The first thing you want to do when posting your own materials is to create a BINDER. Binders are the conduits for all of your materials in a particular class or subject. In the photo above, I have created a binder for my Music Theory class and one for TeacherCast related materials. Binders can be filled by linking web URL’s, uploading materials directly to your CLACO account.
Teachers are given 300 mb’s to have materials uploaded to their CLACO accounts. Within each binder, teachers can also create folders. For example, teachers can create a folder for each chapter in their lesson or course.
Once you have your binder established, you can choose to make your binder public, or private. CLACO also gives users the option of sharing their binders over their social media networks such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
Binders can also be tagged with metadata to provide other users with a way to specifically find their binder and/or lesson materials.
Keeping Lesson Planning Social and FUN!
Ok… so you put up some lesson materials that you have created, but want to search for ideas that other educators have posted. Once you find lesson plans posted from other teachers, CLACO gives you the option to subscribe to that particular teacher. You then will have a funning feed of their lessons on your homepage where you can easily interact with and search through their class materials.
This feature is truly what sets CLACO apart from other educational social networking platforms.
Once you subscribe to other educators, it’s now time for you to share the CLACO love with your department and school district. By simply clicking on the “invite button” you can send a CLACO invitation through email, or social media to help engage other educators and give them the same advantages that you now have. By doing so, you also receive additional storage space for your lesson plan materials and files.
When I first met CLACO founder Eric Simmons, I was very impressed with his love for learning and his constant thirst to help other teachers. He is a hard working young man with a team of great software designers and developers around him. His goal is simple: To provide a FREE tool for all educators to be able to use and take advantage of.
I truly believe that Eric and his team have created the perfect tool. You can listen to my interview with Eric Simons below as we discussed CLACO in it’s original form, a web tool known then as “ClassConnect”.
Lastly, I would like everyone to connect with me on CLACO. I will be posting lesson plans, TeacherCast materials, and sharing some of the great work that educators are doing on CLACO over the next few months.
For more information, please follow Eric and the team on Twitter at @TeamClaco.