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October 17, 2013

The Together Student: Part 2, Student Planners

To plan or not to plan? Oh, c’mon, who are we kidding? We are always pro-planning over here at Together Teacher!

Last week we talked about student binders. Now it’s time to hit student planners! Does your school provide planners to students? Ask students to purchase their own? Go freestyle (yikes!)?

You could go all crazy and get those planners that show major character traits each month in big neon block letters, or have huge pictures of zoo animals, or–no kidding, this really does exist—a “Reasons to Party” page, but we generally think the simpler, the better.

It’s uber-important to teach students of any age to record their assignments, plan ahead, and break down large projects. These are skills they will need in college and in any job. So, what types of planners will best support teaching and learning them?

Here is the list of criteria for what we like in commercially produced student planners (varies by age group!):

  • Clear place to label name and contact information
  • Monthly and weekly/daily view. We want students to have both a long-term view and a close-up.
  • Enough room to actually WRITE. Smaller kids often need more of this!
  • Portable. Can it be carried in a backpack or messenger bag?
  • Not too expensive. 12 dollars or less is reasonable.
  • Bonus: Customized per school with school calendar and schedule already inserted!

Here’s a round-up of recently released commercial student planners we like:

A. For Individual Student Purchase

Upper Class Weekly Planner

B. For Bulk and Customized School-Wide Purchase

  1. Class Tracker
  2. Premier Planners
  3. Success by Design

Even if you don’t want to purchase planners for your whole school, there are many other options for helping your students track and complete their assignments:

You could go the syllabus route like this high school, Great Oaks Charter.

 Great Oaks Syllabus

Or the pre-prepped packet of a week’s worth of homework like AF Endeavor Elementary.

endeavor homework

Great for teaching students how to keep it all Together. This clearly takes a lot of planning! But it’s awesome modeling.

Or, you could go digital, by using Google like this school or trying apps like myHomework or Class Buddy.

Of course, even more important than the perfect planner is exactly how you teach your students to USE it. Some awesome examples of this we’ve heard about in our travels:

  • Select a company that provides laminated poster sized planner blow-ups for the wall so you can model writing in the assignments just as the students should. 
  • Teach students not only to copy down their assignments, but to plan out which ones they will complete when. Check out this very nifty example from Great Oaks in Newark:
  • student plannerCheck each student’s planner and require parents to check too!

So many options! If you can’t convince your school to invest in planners, there are a ton of homemade and inexpensive options. Whatever you do, do something!

Discussion Question: How do you teach students to record and complete assignments?

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