Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Writing Assignments Down for School

In teaching middle school, I find students are in a constant flux between getting ready for high school and still thinking like an elementary student. Middle school students need to become more independent but there brains are still developing the organization skills.

In my class, students must have their agenda open when the bell rings. Then I walk the aisles to make sure students are writing down their homework and daily activities in the proper day for my classroom. I reward students with class points as students are competing with the other classes for a weekly prize.

This has been a very helpdul technique as students learn to use their agenda nightly to check off their homework. This is also helpful for parents who are not sure what their child's homework is.

I take things one step further and sign their agenda is homework is not completed that day and if a student gets in trouble in my class, I record the behavior in the agenda for the parents as well.  Recoring the behavior aslo reminds the students what  my expectations are in the classroom.

I also like the way Stowell Learning Center explains the use of the agenda for schools and teachers that may not require the use of an agenda.

Get an Agenda or Planner

In other words, write down your assignments so that when you get home you remember what to do. Check your list before you leave school and make sure you have any materials you might need.

Many schools offer agendas to their students for a nominal fee or no fee at all. If your school does not offer an agenda, pick one up and get ready to instill a valuable tool for your child!

Make sure to pick an agenda that is easy for your child to handle and that has age-appropriate writing space (e.g. younger child may require lined spaces, older students may require the week-at-a-glance-type agendas to account for different subjects).

(Get ready, the fun is just about to begin!)

For some reason, many students HATE using a planner. Others just ignore it and assume they will remember everything.

Having an agenda / planner is NOT all there is to it. Now it must be used!

While it may seem incredibly obvious, "walk" your child through how to use it. Be very specific with how it needs to be filled out.

NEXT - Check frequently (EVERY day, at first) to make sure the planner is being used effectively. It can be very easy to get into bad habits and start not using it. NO! To work, it must be used daily.

All this "organizational stuff" is so obvious for adults, but the part of the brain that is used for keeping us organized doesn't fully mature until about age 25! Most eight-year-olds (or even sixteen-year-olds) have not yet developed the capacity to be completely organized.

Avoid being critical. Just be helpful.

Getting the assignments home, with everything that is needed, is the first step toward completing homework. Develop the planner habit and you'll be well on your way to happier days.

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