Learning Calendars for Virtual School
Add a New Dimension to Lessons with Learning Calendars
By now you have a good virtual school family plan in place. You and your student should be settled into your online learning routines now that your child’s learning schedule is established. But have you incorporated a calendar? Calendars aren’t just for tracking appointments or assignment due dates. You can use calendars to track and manage the learning process, too.
A learning calendar is essentially a concise journal that records your thoughts about the day. Your student can use one calendar to track his or her progress, and you can use your own to track your performance as a Learning Coach. Keeping learning calendars helps you and your student target areas for improvement and shows you how each day fits into the big picture.
Use the guide below to create your learning calendars and see how to use them to evaluate the school year.
Creating a Student Learning Calendar
Start by buying or making a blank calendar. The best choice is a large wall or desk calendar that displays the whole month, with each day large enough to comfortably write down a sentence or two. You can also choose a daily or weekly planner if you prefer, as long as the pages offer enough room for notes.
Once the calendar is ready, your student can start keeping track of what he or she is learning. At the end of each school day, ask your student to make a note in the box that describes:
- An interesting fact
- Something new he or she learned how to do
- A fun activity
- A concept he or she is struggling with
- A tough problem he or she solved
- The name of a favorite assignment
- A goal
- An opinion or feeling
If your student struggles to think of something, make a list of the possibilities and post it near the calendar for reference. He or she only has to choose one thing to write about and can describe it in a sentence or in bullet points.
For young students, keep sticky notes with the following symbols
- ☺ = good day
- ☹ = hard day
- ? = confusing day
- ! = exciting day
These colorful notes can alert others in the family to how the student did that day so as to stimulate conversation.
The Learning Coach Calendar
While you help your student set up a learning calendar, start working on your own. It helps to choose the same type of calendar your student uses so you can compare the two more easily. When your student updates his or her calendar each day, add notes to your own.
Before your record your observations, consider how you feel about the following topics that day:
- Time management
- Behavior management
- Overall attitude at the end of the day
Here are some examples of specific notes you could record:
- A new organization technique you liked
- Something your student achieved that made you proud
- A frustrating issue and how you handled it
- How well your student stayed on track during the day
- A lesson or activity that was especially effective
- A great idea you want to try
- A tip you learned from a teacher or another Learning Coach
Once you and your student have both filled out your calendars for a week, you can start evaluating your progress.
Learning Calendar Evaluation
Start by evaluating your student’s learning calendar. If your student is younger and you are using the color-coded notes or symbols, take note of the dominate symbol. Assess the month and decide if changes are needed in the school day. If you observe that your student needs more feedback and guidance, take a look at his or her calendar each individual day. Ask your child to elaborate on his or her notes or clarify anything you don’t understand. You can also check out your student’s calendar weekly, asking him or her to reflect on it with you to draw conclusions about the overall week.
Performing a monthly evaluation is even better. With your student, look back at all of the things you’ve learned, and take a moment to celebrate! Ask him or her to think about what has changed since the first day of the month. Next, look for trends. Are there any topics or subjects you spend too much time on—or, perhaps, too little? What do these patterns convey about your student’s interests or struggles?
Now evaluate your own calendar. Each week, ask yourself:
- What worked well? What can I improve on?
- What are some new solutions I can try?
- What will I continue doing next week?
Ask yourself these questions again when you reflect on the month and compare your calendar to your student’s. What are the similarities and differences? Are any of your reactions drastically different on the same day? Check for inconsistencies to see if there are any issues that stand out.
The next step is to make a plan for the following month. This helps you continue using methods that worked really well and eliminate any that were ineffective. Also note any new techniques you’d like to try.
Ultimately, there are many reasons to keep learning calendars. They lead you to new ideas and also make it easy to record them. They help you recognize the good and the bad. They offer insight into your student’s thoughts as well as your own, helping you gain perspective on his or her education. And most of all, they are a big help when talking to your student’s teachers about deciding to make adjustments to his or her personalized learning plan.
Do you already use such learning calendars? We want to hear your tips, tricks, and suggestions.