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More Than Just Tracking Time: How Calendars Can Be Effective Teaching Tools

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Weekly calendar planners at House of Doolittle

As a teacher, you always look for ways to help your students succeed. You want them to learn, grow, and develop the skills they need to be successful in school, at home, and with their friend groups. One tool that most of us, including teachers, use every day is calendar planners. It is important to think of calendars- our daily, weekly, and monthly planners- as multidimensional instruments that support students’ learning strategies and progress. In this blog post, let’s explore both traditional and creative uses for calendars.    

Goal Setting. One of the most important things you can teach your students is the importance of goal setting. This activity helps students stay focused, motivated, and on track. Students can see their progress by setting measurable and achievable goals and physically writing them down in a calendar. Because many of us are visual learners, especially young students, the act of writing can help reinforce the identification of the goal and encourage students to stay committed to their objectives. Remind your students that goals can be academic, personal or a combination of both. 

Some examples that students may want to include in their goal-creation and setting strategy can include: 

•  Reading a certain number of books

•  Memorizing a poem

•  Completing a project

•  Achieving a specific grade or benchmark

•  Learning a new skill

When students set goals, it can help them to stay focused on their priorities and avoid the many distractions they can face.   

Planning and Organization. Other valuable skills that students can develop through the use of calendars are planning and organization. These are critical skills for success academically and personally, as well as eventually professionally. Breaking down larger or complex tasks into smaller, more manageable components and setting deadlines for each can help prevent feeling overwhelmed by the scope of their responsibilities. It is probably fair to say that many of us suffer from procrastination from time to time; therefore, tracking the progress of each step can ensure projects are completed on time.     

It is a fact that many students are very busy and are often overscheduled. Days, weeks, and months can quickly spiral out of control without effective organization. In addition to helping students create plans for their academic work, daily, weekly, and monthly planners can also be used to help them manage their personal and extracurricular lives. By scheduling time for family and friends, as well as sports, clubs, volunteering, and other extracurricular interests or activities, students can learn the value of balancing these aspects of their lives. They can learn what to prioritize, what to eliminate, and how to address everything well.  

Time Management. This skill goes hand- in hand with planning and organization. Learning the value of time management early in students’ school years will be an asset they take with them throughout their lives. They can use their calendar planners to estimate how long their tasks will take and then allocate enough time to complete them. A well-organized schedule mapped out for each day will help students use their time effectively and stay accountable for their responsibilities.  

None of these skills necessarily come easily, and it is okay to admit to students that the adults struggle with these same things in their lives. But the adults, understanding the enormous value in developing and managing these skills, can help reinforce their importance to the students they teach daily.  

A Creative Approach to Using Calendars in the Classroom 

Sometimes, to crack the code that instills students with the knowledge they need, teachers can get creative with how they use calendars to align with their lesson planning. We hear this mantra often, but it never hurts to repeat it- most students are visual learners. They absorb and remember what they can see. 

Calendars are powerful learning tools when used as visual aids to present language arts, math, science, and history. Using calendars as visual representations, students can learn complex concepts, historical timelines, and the correlation between events and activities. This can help students better understand the context of the subject and develop a deeper, more comprehensive knowledge of the topic. In addition, using calendar planners can show the timeline and relationship between the different parts of a project or experiment. Consider adding calendars as an effective tool for some of the following examples.  

• When studying English, use a calendar to create a timeline of literary periods or the birthdays of famous authors. Align this information with the literature studied in each lesson. Mark the holiday season for reading A Christmas Carol or March when reading Julius Caesar.

• When studying math, use a calendar as a sort of history lesson. Note specific birthdates of famous mathematicians like Euclid or important mathematical discoveries like the Pythagorean Theorem. Note when calculators were invented or calculate the number of miles to the moon and back.

• When studying history, create a timeline for important dates or historical figures. This should be an easy activity to match up with history lessons, as history can be defined as a record of what happened in time.

It is evident that calendars have many uses beyond just tracking our time day to day. They are incredibly effective in teaching planning, organization, and time management. The sooner these skills are introduced to students, the sooner they will be equipped to manage their jam-packed days.  

Think about how you use calendar planners to track days, weeks, and months during the school year to help you and your students get the most out of every day.