Saturday, November 11, 2023

Planners Your Students Can Do

In late September, I shared how I have helped students with organization - they need a lot of help! - and I promised I'd be back with my thoughts on planners. It's 2023 - most schools are in 1-to-1 situations, so I'm sure the assumption is planners should also be digital, right? I disagree!

As with most of my advice, there is NO clear answer. There is NO "one-size-fits-all" answer either. There ARE a lot of factors to consider and there are a lot of options. That's part of the problem. Let's break it down ...

Factors to consider:
  • AGE - the younger the student, the more direct support needed - whether it's on paper or it's digital. This isn't news to you; this is true of everything! Younger students probably should have a paper option, especially if they are not 1:1 with a device they bring home from school.

  • TEAM/DISTRICT guidelines - ideally, you are working with a larger group to scaffold the supports and bigger picture of what using a planner looks like. What does the grade younger than you do ... what about the grade above you?

  • OPTIONS - ... do you have an LMS? ... can you provide paper planners? ... what does the parent side look like?

  • DEVICE SET-UP - if your students are 1:1, do they take them home? If a school device goes home, a digital planner might be a great option. If a school device doesn't go home, a paper planner might be a better option.
When my previous district went 1:1 with chromebooks, it was decided to NOT provide paper planners to our students. I was in a middle school - grades 5-8, I was teaching 7th & 8th - and it might seem like that is the logical step. I took a different approach. I created the following presentation to go over options with my students. Please keep in mind this was roughly 10 years ago ... I've not updated it. 

But it did help ... it showed my students there typically isn't just one way. They don't have to be locked into one path. It showed them they can make decisions. And ultimately, it allowed me to support my students in a manner that helps them.

If your district mandates one method over another, do yourself and your students a favor:

Follow it. Follow it with a passion. 

Don't complain about it to your students. We don't always get to choose our path. Be a good example of what to do when this happens.

Don't make keeping track of work a more difficult path than it needs to be. We are cramming so much content into our students on a regular basis, keep this as easy as possible.

Some kind of planner method is necessary in today's classroom. Picking the one that works best for your students is important, and hopefully can be a building or district wide one to make it something that truly works for ALL of the students, teachers, and parents.

How about you teachers???
Do you have a favorite planner? I am constantly on the look out for that "perfect" planner ... this school year I've got one that is a weekly lay out with a month overview. I'm finding the weekly lay out is my go to. If you've got a favorite, drop it in the comments ... I'd love to check it out! 

*** BONUS if it's a bullet journal!!! I'm fascinated by these, but super intimidated! ***

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