Friday, August 5, 2016

#MTBoSBlaugust Day 5: Student Unit Organizers

Happy Day 5! We've made it through an entire work week of MTBoSBlaugust! 

I've been really digging into my unit plans and am now getting down to some day to day planning for the beginning of the year. In year 1 of teaching any class, there is always some element of day to day planning. But this year is round 2 of AB Calculus for me, so I'm pushing myself to use everything I've learned to get a bit more organized. I still struggle with creating plans that are too solid, as I always want to be flexible enough to work with whatever my kiddos need. However, here is my new (tentative) approach for some organizational changes this year. I plan to hand out a paper/packet to the kids on the first day of the unit with:

1. Daily Unit Overview

These are, of course, subject to change. However, these will give kids a good idea of what's coming or what they miss if they are out. For longer units, I will probably just go week by week, but this particular unit is a short one, so I'm going all in here for Unit 0. 

2. Unit Reminders

For other units, I'm sure this will get more content and date specific. However, for the first unit I wanted the "big expectations" somewhere accessible daily. In addition, that AP Exam date gets talked about from Day 1- eyes on the prize! 

3. Homework and Extra Help Tracker

I'm thinking of using this like a stamp/signature sheet where kids can keep track of their homework submissions and extra help. I have made the mistake of "trusting" honors classes too much at first in the past and seeing kids fall behind until I start holding them more accountable for homework. I will collect this on the last day of the unit for a homework grade. I can also use extra help as an incentive here since it's tracked via teacher signature. Obviously I'll need to go somewhere exotic to get stamps so they aren't easily forged. Still a work in progress. 

4.  Review Sheets

I'm working on attaching the review sheets for each unit to the Unit Organizer so students have them from the beginning and can see to what level they will be assessed. The challenge here is going to be amping up my review sheet game, as I had 1 review sheet per unit last year. I'll have to write a few more for each unit before the start. I think it's a task that is worth it though- UBD and backwards design in action. Also, kids can work around their busy schedules to get work done and not be cramming review in just the night before the test. 

Sooooo, has anyone used a system like this before with their kids? Pros? Cons? It's new for me, but I feel like it's a worthwhile tool to help keep students and families organized, build some accountability, and give students confidence going into assessments. Feel free to share your experiences! 


  1. I really like the Daily Unit Overview for keeping track of homework assignments, and I really like your idea of givin students a review sheet at the beginning of the unit. I'm starting to think about how I may incorporate these into interactive notebooks.

  2. Can you talk more about your homework stamp sheet? I've been trying to figure out a way to keep track of homework that doesn't take too much time. Thank you!

    1. Sure- it's totally new to me, but my mentee at my last school did it and it seemed to work so seemlessly for her so I'm stealing it :) Each student had a sheet for the unit that they had to keep in their binder. As they walked into class each day, they were responsible for showing the teacher their homework and getting a stamp or a signature. She collected it on test day and it became their unit homework grade. Generally, she felt like it put the responsibility on the student to get credit for their work and was an easy tracking tool.