Alchemy SmartBinder: Creating lessons online

All teachers have to make lesson plans for their classes every day, often written on paper which can be messy and hard to organize.  By writing lesson plans on paper, it is often hard for teachers to incorporate various media sources, such as videos or websites, into the activities in class.   There will always be absent students who miss out on the lesson plan of the day and it is a struggle to give them the work that they missed because they miss what you talk about off of your lesson that day.  Overall, handwritten lessons are a hassle to handle on a day-to-day basis.  Thanks to the vast online resources that are out there for teachers, there is a way for teachers to create interactive lesson plans online.

Alchemy SmartBinder is a tool for teachers to create an online “binder” that contains different course subjects where lessons can be created.  These online lessons can include text examples, videos, files, images and links to websites.  A mastery question can be created for each of these aspects of the lesson and the answer data can be looked at in pie charts or bar graphs.  This tool allows teachers to incorporate course standards into each component of their lesson, even letting teachers create their own standards.  Each lesson includes whether it is designated as in-class work or at-home work.

The YouTube video below, Lesson Delivery and Student Data in SmartBinder, briefly shows the components of a lesson, how students view it and how teachers can view the data.  This video fails to demonstrate how the lessons are created and how they can be shared with students.

The Alchemy SmartBinder created an additional video advertisement in Vimeo that describes some of the features of their tool, which is seen in the video below.

Sample lesson

Sample Lesson from the creators perspective

I created a sample lesson plan using Alchemy SmartBinder about Westward expansion to show how the tool works.  I incorporated the multiple types of features that can be used in a lesson, such as videos and pictures. The image to the left shows what a sample lesson plan would look like from the teacher’s point.

Add materials tool

Add materials tool when creating a lesson

After the Lesson title is created using the Add Material key, + on the bar along the lesson title, the lesson material can be added. For each type of material, there is the ability to provide student instructions, any information you want the students, notes that you want to include for only you to view and inserting a mastery multiple choice question.  There is not a limit on how many text, image, file, video and web materials are included in each lesson.

In-class lesson

Student view of in-class lesson

The student view of the lessons are different than what the teacher sees.  Once the lesson is created the teacher can send students the link to the in-class material and the at-home material.  My sample lesson includes both in-class material and at-home material, which the students can complete on any device that connects to the internet.  The student view of the in-class material in my sample lesson is shown to the left.

In Richard Byrne’s blog, Free Technology for Teachers, his post titled Create, Organize, and Share Lessons In Alchemy SmartBinder he discusses how the tool efficiently organizes and creates lesson plans online.  He discusses how this is a great tool for sharing lesson plans with students, parents and other teachers.  Paper lesson plans often get lost and are very hard to give out to parents.  With this tool, a teacher can create lesson plans for each unit and send the link to all of the parents in the classroom ensuring they know what their children are learning.  Alchemy SmartBinder also allows any student who was absent to complete the lesson, either at-home or in-class material, outside of the classroom and still remain connected to the learning that is occurring in the class.

To find out more on the uses of Alchemy SmartBinder, visit some of these sites:

A similar cool tool that students and teachers can use to create presentations and lessons is Metta, which is discussed in Sara’s post Metta: A New Kind of Presentation.

I hope you think Alchemy SmartBinder is as great of a tool as I think it is.  Have fun creating your own online lessons!  Do you think this is a tool you would use in your future classroom?  Did you find it easy to create lessons with this tool?  How effective is using online lesson plans, rather than paper lesson plans? Thanks for reading!

This entry was posted in Assessing student work, Cool tool, Creating, Organizing, Understanding. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Alchemy SmartBinder: Creating lessons online

  1. Tabitha C. says:

    This is such a cool tool! Do you think this is better or worse than Sara’s tool, Metta? I think using an online lesson plan is great so you can easily share them, particularly if you know you’re going to be absent. A written lesson plan can be good so you don’t have to depend on wifi, but other than that, I think Alchemy SmartBinder beats paper plans!

    • Katie H. says:

      Thanks for the response Tabitha! Metta is an excellent tool because it has the ability to insert videos of yourself, where Alchemy SmartBinder requires you to post a video to an online source. They both are very helpful!

  2. Angie E. says:

    Hey Katie! NIce work! I agree with you that paper lesson plans can make it hard to incorporate various media elements into lessons and make it hard to share or keep track of what you have taught on a specific day. SmartBinder seems like a great solution. You could plan your own lessons and share them with students, parents, and teachers, or use one that a colleague has shared with you. Sara mentioned the flipped classroom technique of teaching in her post and I think that SmartBinder would also be a very useful tool if you wanted to teach this way. Thanks Katie!

  3. Kelly F. says:

    Nicely written post, Katie. The idea of having a lesson plan that incorporates all aspects of the online portions of the lesson is pretty cool, but also, as Tabitha pointed out, written plans have their advantages as well. I personally love it when I can sit at my computer and gather all of my documents without having to move, because I’m lazy like that. 🙂

  4. Anna B. says:

    Hey Katie! This sounds like a really great tool! I am such a paper-and-pencil kind of girl, but you make a very convincing argument that this online lesson planning tool is a great option. I like that it allows you as a teacher to add in media sources right into the lesson plan, which is probably the biggest attraction to the tool for me. I also think it is cool that you can share it with students or parents as a way to let them know what is coming up in the weeks ahead, or what they missed when they were absent. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Chelsea R. says:

    This seems like such a cool tool to use! I think it’s so convenient and I love that this is paper free. It’s great that everything is all in one place and can be found easily. It also seems like it’s easy to add media, text, and other files if you want to. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Maria H. says:

    I like the idea that if you are absent for a sudden reason, a substitute or even your students can look on your Alchemy SmartBinder and find that day’s lesson. That way, you don’t have to call the school and explain what they should be doing. I think that is my favorite part of this cool tool. I also like how you can embed videos and images into your actual lesson plans, so you can just use that instead of having a separate PowerPoint. This is a great tool, Katie, and I plan on using it in the future!

  7. Sara R. says:

    Katie, I now see why you said that the tools that we blogged about were so similar! In all honesty, I feel as if your tool is a bit more user friendly, but I do agree that both tools can be used in case of a teacher absence. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Steph G. says:

    Katie, this was so helpful! The video you embedded as well as the screenshots really explained your cool tool! I agree with Sara when she says Alchemy SmartBinder is user friendly. It seems really easy to use and I totally see how it would appeal to teachers, I see myself using it in the future. Thank you so much for introducing us to this wonderful tool!

  9. Winna P. says:

    Hi Katie! Your cool tool is actually very similar to the one I will be posting about on Friday. It will be cool to compare our tools. The idea of an online lesson plan is very appealing to me. I’m the kind of person that likes to work on things in different places so being able to work on a lesson plan where ever I have my laptop sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Laura H. says:

    This is so useful that we can work on it anywhere and it’s online. I am not the most organized person, so I think I will definitely utilize this in the future to keep all my lesson plans in order. Thanks!!

  11. Sydney R. says:

    Hey Katie, great post! This is such a cool tool for 21rst century learning. I can definitely see the practicality in creating and sharing lessons online. And it seems super user-friendly which is great. I’ll have to keep this in mind for use in my classroom, or even sooner during student teaching!

  12. Chelsea S. says:

    I really like this tool. I think one of the reasons why some parents are hesitant to help their child with school work is simply because they don’t know what their child is learning in school! Having a teacher be able to engage parents with this resource is simply awesome-it really is crazy how technology can help nowadays!

    It’s also great for the teacher to have an easy to go to resource of what he or she taught the year before to see if he or she wants to make any changes!

  13. Alexia M. says:

    Katie, what a great tool! It really is true that lesson planning can get unorganized and messy. This would cause everything to be in the same place, which would be much easier and more organized. I can definitely see myself using this as a future teacher. Thanks for the great post!

  14. Victoria B. says:

    This is a really cool tool! I had never even thought of creating lesson plans online instead of creating hard copies. Although I always like having a physical copy of something to look at, I can certainly see the benefits of using a SmartBinder. I think the creation of an online lesson plan would be beneficial for a substitute in that he/she can go directly to provided technology links, rather than following instructions left on a paper plan. Thanks for sharing!

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