It's More Than Just a Planner - Mandy Neal

It’s More Than Just a Planner

Do you use student planners with your students?  I did until I went with a few fellow teachers to observe a teacher in another district.  I was so impressed that I began using this new found idea in the middle of October.  This past school year was my first full year of using what they called a Brain Book, and I can tell you that I will never go back to using a simple planner.

When I was first introduced to the Brain Books they were in a one subject spiral notebook.  I quickly found out that I preferred the composition notebook over the spiral.  Although there is a bit less space, they are much more durable.

At the beginning of the school year, you can buy these one subject composition notebooks really cheap.  I think I found them for a quarter at Wal-Mart which is significantly cheaper than a $3.50 student planner.  Because they are so cheap, I went ahead and bought two per student.  One notebook lasts for half the year.  I allowed my students to personalize their Brain Book.  As you can see by the pictures below not all students jumped at this opportunity but, then again, it was up to them.

At this point, you are probably wondering what a Brain Book is.  According to me and how I used it this is my version:

I use this notebook as a replacement for the traditional student planner.  Everyday upon arrival to the classroom my students date a brand new page in their notebook.  They then copy the days learning objectives onto that page.  As you can see from the pictures, they are required to place the name of the subject.  On the bottom portion of the page they draw a small t-chart.  On the left side is where I may write comments that are to go home or their parents may also use this space to send me a note.  On the right side is where parents sign that they have seen the Brain Book.  It is a requirement for my students that their Brain Book go home with them on a daily basis.

 

Beyond writing the objectives we use this same notebook for placing important things that we can refer back to.  In the very back, students had their reading record.  Other items included word wall words they needed to know, foldables that they made,notes that they had taken, and many other items.  If it could fit into the notebook and it served a purpose, they placed it in their book.

 

 

 

During reading if I had a question that I wanted them to answer, I gave them the question and they taped or glued it into their Brain Book.  They would simply write the answer to the question right in their Brain Book.  When reviewing word wall words, their Brain Book was the place they wrote.  When completing a few math problems, their Brain Book was the place where they showed their work.

 

The perks to using a Brain Book:

  • I like that parents see what we are doing in the classroom on a daily basis.  They don’t have to wait until papers go home.
  • It is so easy for me to do a quick check on all my students’ work and I don’t have to deal with collecting papers.
  • There is no question about where they are to write.  They know that their notebooks are their “think pads” they write their thoughts.
  • They don’t have to search in folders or desks for a missing paper, they know that they can find it in their Brain Book.
  • I don’t hear, “I don’t have any paper”.

If I had to pick what I like best about the use of the Brain Book, it would be the pride that my students take in their books.  They take pride in the work that they put into it and they love to show what they “do”.

These Brain Books have worked wonders for me.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to have seen them at work!

Sign up for Access to Exclusive Freebies

Sign up for over 25 exclusive freebies from Mandy Neal at Teaching With Simplicity!