Boring, and I Honestly Don't Know How Important...Student Planners

Student Hand-out Exhibit A

This post isn't about the value of the planning, as much as it is about how much do the students need in advance...please continue...

One of my earliest colleagues, had two jobs. One at the high school, the other as an adjunct instructor at the local Junior College. It was from his hands, I first saw the monthly (or unit) plan given to the students. On this day, we will be on this page, and these will be the problems, and the test will be on this date.
He used this method in his high school classes too, though it was on a monthly calendar. I never figured out how he knew when he would be on what page and what would he do if he printed 100 of those things, then got all off schedule? How did he know when his students would be ready for a test that far in advanced? I was pretty new.

Now fast forward 25 years later, and I am facing these student planners again, only MORE elaborate. So much thought, so much time, so much planning. I am told these unit plans take 4-6 hours to produce...I sat in on one isn't an exaggeration.

Student Hand-out Exhibit B
Again, I am in admiration of the confidence and organization and years of experience that it takes to put this together. (There is another page to this unit, but with one such page, I thought you would get the idea). And again, with my AOADD (Adult Onset Of Attention Deficit Disorder) I just don't get how one knows when students will be ready, what happens when you want to do a modeling problem because you had an epiphany or read one my favorite bloggers latest posts and just have to try that thing? (The collaborative piece was an invitation to sit in, not a start from scratch.)

My young probationary colleague does this for Monday and each student gets a half sheet:
Student Hand-Out Exhibit C
And me, well...My students get this each day, no paper:
Student No Hand-Out Exhibit D
I get so much inspiration when I see the productive struggles, see how students are messing with the material. I have favorite activities, believe me...and I get them in there...AND I am open to new and better and different ways and learning from how my virtual colleagues look at the same concepts.

At every high school and middle school I have been associated with (by teaching or my own children attending) the students get a daily planner. I believe the accountability for students writing in their agendas is huge. 

I hate wasting paper.

I have a class website where my students can access their assignments and 99% of hand-outs are live linked. They don't even have to have a printer, they can just use the website as a mobile textbook!

Positives of the Student    + Students know where in the heck you are going
Unit Planner Hand-out:    + Everyone is on the same page at the same time
                                         + The kids LOVE these things
                                         + Once the hard work is done, the next 6 weeks are EASY
                                         + Kids have no excuses for not knowing what the assignment was

Negatives of the Student
Unit Planner Hand-out:   - Paper use and copying...expensive and not environmental
                                        - Moving things around is tricky
                                        - Students don't "push" the assignment through their pencils as            
                                         - Doesn't produce habit of checking the website where there is all kinds       
                                          of good information
                                          - Ack, takes the spontaneity out of my life day, especially now that I am  
                                         going to use Sarah's amazing idea next week. 

Please, my math community, weigh in...I haven't seen much on the topic and would love to get the discussion on!

Does it even freakin' matter? Does it change or effect the crunchiness, the wonder, the engagement, the value of the math?

Dan? Sarah? Mr. Miller? Matt? Megan? Anyone? Fawn?

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  1. The students who most need to use the planners are the ones least likely to use them.

    1. Do you mean the school issued ones or the teacher generated ones?

  2. We have been using planners like this for a long time and share them with the other 4 middle schools in our district. I think it makes us way too tied to the schedule!!! I started on twitter last summer (thans Fawn!) and since then have seen Sooooo many cool things that I don't want to use the chapter long assignment sheets anymore!!! I have been trying to incorporate more in my room but we all "follow the assignment sheet" at our school. Time to be more of a rebel.

    1. I encourage your rebel-ness if it leads to richer experiences for yourself and your students! Stretch!

  3. I've never used them before so I don't know how effective they are. It seems like it would be difficult to change the things you wanted to do, or add things if you decide the students need more work on some particular concept. I don't think I would use a student planner. My gradebook is online, so students can see what we have done, but they can't see what we are about to do.


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