I have written several articles pertaining to the power of planners for educators, but have yet to discuss the ways to effectively use student planners in the classroom. It is easy to search the internet and find planning tools for learners in a pinch, and although convenient, it’s not enough to simply find a planner that looks pretty, print it off and give it to students without questioning the strength of the planner, what modifications the planner may need and how it can be used as a learning tool. Some things to keep in mind before classroom use are:
A. Curriculum Objectives
Does the planner match your curriculum objectives? If not, what modifications will the student planner need in order to achieve your goals? Perhaps you will need to change some of the wording, add an extra column or additional boxes.
There’s no rule that says that each learner in your class needs to use the exact same version of the student planner. Before providing your students with the planner, think about ways it may need to be modified to suit different learner needs in your classroom. Are there opportunities for extended learning to push certain students to a deeper understanding? What about ESL students in your classroom? Will they be able to follow the planner as is, or will any scaffolding need to be provided in order for them to complete the planner?
C. Links to Other Subject Areas
A planner may be designed to accommodate a certain subject area; however, depending on your units, it may be possible to incorporate elements from another subject area into the planner. For example, a planner may be designed for a research project in science and when reviewing your language curriculum objectives, you may be able to make some links.
D. Train of Thought
Before handing the planner out to students, try it yourself. While moving through the planner, ask yourself if it is logical, if the steps are in the order you wish your students to follow and if it will ultimately serve to meet the goals you have set.
E. Planners From a Previous Year
While it is easy to find new student planners on the internet, it may be also be tempting to re-use planners from another year to teach the same grade. And this is fine, however it is always a good idea to look at the students in your current class and decide if the planner meets their needs. If not, either a new planner may be required or modifications to the existing planner should be made.
F. Planners as a Teaching Tool
Planners are an excellent teaching tool, and meeting with your students to discuss their planners throughout a project or unit is a great way for you to see where your students are at in their learning. As you look at their planners, you will be able to see their areas of strength and areas for improvement by the amount of detail provided in each box. Perhaps you will notice that they are struggling with where to find their material or with coming up with a feasible timeline to complete their project and can offer the necessary support to help them succeed.
By taking the time to think about the specific learning needs in your classroom and making the necessary modifications to your planner, you will be helping your students succeed to the best of their abilities! How will you be modifying the next set of student planners you use in your classroom? Looking for customized planners to suit your learners' needs? Contact us!