Teaching Tip: Write the Dates

I was recently asked by a fellow teacher how to help students move on from exercises they have had for a while.  The logical question is, “What’s the struggle?”  In this case, it was a lack of practice - the student was simply coming unprepared.  His comment was, “I don’t think they even realize how many lessons they’ve been working on this same exercise.”  A few questions later, and I asked him if he erases and rewrites the date on the assignment.  He said that he just writes that initial assignment date, then doesn’t write anything after that.  Here was my idea for him:

Write all of the assignment dates.

lesson book dates.JPG

Write all of the assignment dates.

If I decide to reassign an exercise for a student, I write the new date below the initial assignment date.  In colorful pen, which the student chooses for the day.  That way, they know which assignments they’re supposed to be working on (because between soccer practice, math bowl, homework, Bible study group, slumber parties, and lego robotics club, they legitimately forget what they were supposed to do).  When they see multiple dates written on the assignment, it motivates them to get the work done so they can move on.  When they finally pass it, they feel that sense of completion more strongly.  When parents see multiple dates, it informs them that the student needs to continue work on the exercise, whether because it’s difficult, or because the student didn’t practice.    

The majority of my students also use a practice record with me, so I can write what they are supposed to be working on for the week there.  But I still write it in the book, because writing the assignment date next to the exercise has yielded the most results.  My students flip through their books first, looking for that colorful pen marking.  They point out to me that they’ve had the assignment for three weeks.  With intention in their voices, they tell me, “I’m going to get this one today.”  Try it in your lessons and see if your students seem better motivated to complete their work.