Thursday, October 15, 2015

Teaching Moment: Erin Condren Teacher Planner

Every so often I like to talk about teaching because I'm a teacher and I have ideas or excitement or a soapbox to stand on. This is one of those moments.

Erin Condren Teacher Planner

So in May I splurged and bought an Erin Condren Teacher Planner.  I had seen so many people writing about them, they looked so pretty, and I love notebooks and planners.  I was nervous, though, because I hadn't really seen anyone use it at the middle school or high school level that would work for me.  I did find this great blog post from 180 Days to Happy about how a middle school teacher set hers up, but I knew I just needed to get my hands on it and figure it out.

Before school started, I played around with it and came up with this blog post.  I was incredibly overwhelmed.  How would I set this up?

This has been my progression:

I used post-it notes to figure out how to set everything up.

Mock up of my schedule to see how it would work

The beginning of the year:
I use Washi Tape like crazy!!! It's my friend.  

Planning Sheets

 I teach 4 hours of 6th Grade Literature, 1 hour of 6th Grade Honors Literature and 1 hour of 6th Grade Study Skills.  Since study skills is a specials course, I see those kids once a week and do the same thing with each group before I have a new lesson.  Also, most of our class is a study hall/time to clean out lockers/time to finish tests or homework or whatever else might be needed.  So I didn't need much room.

Also, at the beginning of the year, my Honors class does pretty much the same thing as my other classes because 6th grade is a big jump for our kiddos and they all need to be walked through the "how to be a sixth grader" things.  

I also print out my plans on post-it notes.  Weird, I know.  But it works for me.  And it looks so much neater.  Also, I have much more detailed unit plans that address the topics/activities/notes/etc in more detail.  

Charts and graphs pages

I wasn't sure how to use this as a middle school teacher, but I decided to use it for my groups.  Since every 5-6 weeks I change groups up completely, I decided to use these pages.  Then I'm not searching through all my papers when someone says they can't remember what group they were in.

The charts pages were troubling to me at first.  With 140-ish students there just weren't enough of these pages, plus I hate when students move in and out and my grade books don't match that when I enter grades online.  Instead, I decided to use them to keep track of different goals.  The first is our book totals goal.  I challenge all my students to read 30 books in a school year.  Some make it, some don't, but they're all reading.  About once a month they bring up their book logs and I write them down in my book too (someone will inevitably lose theirs).

I am also using them to keep all of my benchmark scores.  I used to keep them in a file folder for each class and then would need to bring those all to my meetings with me... Now I have it with me no matter what!  The only problem was that I didn't want to write down all 140 students' names.  Sound lazy?  That's a lot of writing.  Plus, I have to enter my scores into a google doc and email them to our RTI coordinator as it is, so I just printed that out and glued it in.  I'll just cut out the Winter scores and match them up in January.

Monthly pages

My monthly calendars are used for major events--both school related and personal.  This helps me when I'm doing my planning and I can see what I have going on in my personal life as well.  

Final Changes:
So.... in our 8th week of school I had to change things up completely.  I have two classes who need more support...mostly due to not completing their work.  The problem is that it's hurting the students who are doing their work.   So I had to figure out how to squeeze in four different plans into these pages.  I decided on squeezing in three different preps.  My study skills doesn't need a column.  This week's study skills plan was "clean out lockers."  

I kept the first column for my daily activities that will stay the same for each class, like Status of the Class, Book Buzzers, and Read a louds.  Then I have two columns for 1st and 4th, two for Honors, and 2 for my 7th and 8th.  I'm trying it, but it's only been two week.

Overall, I'm satisfied with my Erin Condren Teacher Planner for now, but I'm not sure if I'll spend the money on one next year.  I love how it's put together, but  I feel as if I'm not using it as much as I could.  So I might be looking for something else similar, but more useful for me.  Possibly something smaller, although then I'm not sure how I would fit my post-it notes in there!

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