Using Your Personal Digital Assistant to Store Lesson Plans. (Technology Tips)

Article excerpt

You may already use your Palm Pilot or Handspring Visor to take attendance and store student contact information, but you can also use your personal digital assistant (PDA) to store instructional information, such as lesson plans or skill-drill outlines. This article outlines how to convert lesson plans created using Microsoft Word into basic web pages that can be uploaded to the Internet and then downloaded to your PDA. If you already know how to create web pages, you can skip the information on creating HTML files and go directly to the information about AvantGo that appears later in the article. (For general information about PDAs, see "Implementing Handheld Computing Technology in Physical Education;' on page 43 of this issue.)

There are a variety of ways to develop lesson plans (Siedentop, Mand, & Taggart, 1986; Siedentop & Tannehill, 2000).The purpose of this article is not to describe how to write a lesson plan. Physical education lesson plans typically include the teacher's name, date, lesson topic, unit, equipment, safety precautions, and behavioral objectives at the start of the plan, followed by a description of the progression of tasks included in the lesson from warm-up to closure. The section of the lesson plan devoted to the progression of tasks usually appears in a table format consisting of a number of rows and three or more columns. Using a table format for the lesson plan works well on paper (in Microsoft Word), but transferring these lesson-plan tables from the web to your PDA will cause the graphic elements of the table to disappear, although the information will remain in the same order. Therefore, you will not need to redo the entire lesson plan. The information will still be contained in the PDA version of the le sson plan, but it will be presented a little differently. If your lesson plans are in paragraph format, then the format of the information downloaded to your PDA is similar to what you would see on your computer screen.

Let us assume that you create a series of four lesson plans for a unit. Since Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processing program, specific information on how to create HTML files from Microsoft Word documents will be provided (any other programs that create HTML files will work exactly the same). After creating the lesson plans, you will need to create some sort of web-page index for them, with links to each of the four web-page versions of those lesson plans.

Creating an HTML File

Having saved your lesson plans as Word documents, you will need to save them in HTML format. To do this using Word, click on File, then drag down to the Save as HTML. Remember that when you save an HTML file you need to use the file extension (the descriptor of the file after the period) "html" (Apple) or "htm" (Windows). For example, you could call the first lesson plan "lessonl.html." If you have a unit of instruction with four lesson plans, you would create logical file names with either numbers or brief descriptors (e.g., lessonl.html, lesson2.html). A unit of instruction with four lesson plans and an index to those four plans will result in a total of five web pages.

Creating an Index Page and Hyperlinks

The next step is to create the index page for the unit and hyperlinks to each lesson plan:

1. Open a new document from the Microsoft Word program.

2. Type in the information that you want to include in your index (e.g., title of page and descriptions of links: lesson1, lesson2, etc.).

3. After you have created the text describing each of the links, you need to hyperlink these descriptions to the corresponding web pages for that information. In other words, you will link the index description for lesson 1 to the web page for lesson 1, the description for lesson 2 to the page for lesson 2, and so on.

4. To create a hyperlink, highlight the descriptive text (e.g., for lesson 4) on the index Word document and then click on Insert Hyperlink (figure 1). …