As a learning support teacher (and case manager) I have this thing called “To-do Sheets”. These are daily study sheets that I give to students with special needs that I work with in order to help them in a class in which they are scoring below proficient. This is generally around a 75 (or maybe 80) in a traditional system or below a 4 in the IB (International Baccalaureate). Depending on the school I work at usually I will have a student do this for at least one grade reporting period, or if that is murky, we will do it until their grade has reached the threshold (i.e. a 75) for 3 to 4 weeks in a row.
These to-do sheets are daily study sheets that scaffold the whole process of studying and being prepared. From chunking tasks, preparing for assessments, doing makeup work and more.
Quick note. I am going to write this as quick as possible while still making sense because I am writing a post about my Progression of Interventions and reached a point where I want to put a link to my to-do sheets and a post about it, so I have to write this before I can post my more extensive post about my interventions I use as a case manager.
A student doing to-do sheets will be expected to see me for a minimum of a few minutes each day to drop off the to-do sheet that was signed by their parents the night before, and make a new one. When they make a new one, one key thing is that they fill out their goal at the top for academics so they keep it in mind what they are working on.
From there they fill in the corresponding rows in the sheet for the classes they are struggling with.
The key for them is to be very specific about what exactly they will do. This is a chance for me to build in study tips (i.e. either from the suggestions at the bottom, or just based on the task), chunk tasks, etc. So a student may say, “I am going to write the whole essay tonight!” And then I step in and say, “It’s not due until Friday. What could you do tonight that will help you get it done? Do you have your source yet? Is your claim clear?”
From there we figure out how much time it will take, what resources are needed, and when they will take breaks.
That leads to one of the key parts of the form that connects what we are doing at school to home. The section called “How will someone know when I am done” is designed to be a clear area where the parents can look and see exactly what their child needs to do that night, they check it and then sign the form.
I like this because often the students aren’t clear with their parents about what they have for homework (or in other words, tell their parent they have nothing to do), or the learning management systems (i.e. Moodle) isn’t updated or easily navigable for a parent who isn’t familiar with that class, so I like that they have one box to look at and decide if their child is on track.
Keeping Students Motivated
If a student misses a to-do sheet they have 20 minutes make up time in the next 24 hours to make up the time they didn’t spend on their studies. If this becomes a habit we then assume they are missing a lot of valuable study time and they then have 60 minutes of make up time each day they don’t turn it in. From there we start doing other interventions based on my progression of interventions. This serves both as a deterrent, and also a way for them to sit down and work!
But on a positive note, every five days in a row that they turn it in they get a pass that can be used for things like contacting a parent and saying good things, free time, detention pass, food, free time, etc.
So that’s basically it.
I have custom to-do sheets. For example I have this one for math which I put together for some students who struggled with doing their homework with fidelity.
I also have this spreadsheet on my wall where I track who turned it in each week (and I add other interventions we are doing like mandatory study time). I put a dot in the cell for that student that day if they turned it in, or I circle it if not and then add their name to the make up time list and add a note in their student info Excel file
I haven’t done any low-key action research on this process or anything, but I know it’s highly effective. One main way the import has shown through is while doing this over the past 5 or so years I have had many interactions that have illuminated how much the students need this process.
For example, the first student I used this with was on academic probation and would be asked to leave the school at the end of the semester if he didn’t improve. So I created this to-do system to help him plan his studies and was immediately shocked to see how those executive functions and study skills were so lacking. He had a huge test coming up in a few days and he didn’t put anything in his sheet to get ready. Then when we decided it would help him to study, he just put “review notes” as his study aide. That’s when I got a clear picture of how little and how ineffectively some students were preparing for assessments. It was no wonder he was not hitting his goals.
Over the years I have been developing this a little bit, tweaking it here and there, and it continues to serve as my first intervention when working with a student who is not hitting proficiency.
And I have students that have to do it for one or two classes, but add more because it’s so helpful. Or I have students (and parents) that ‘get off’ of the to-do sheets but still want to do it. Or a few months later they email me and ask for a copy so they can plan.
Or the best…. I’ve had a few students who battled with me for months while doing to-do sheets, parent meetings were involved, then they eventually transitioned off of to-do sheets, then grades went down the next quarter, and without me telling them they are like, “Mr. Beckett…….I might need to do those to-do sheets again”. I even got that in writing a couple years ago (email) and a few months later when the student was struggling and mad about make up time I reminded him that he asked to do them and he didn’t remember. And I was like, “I got it in email meng…I saved it!”
I’m always trying to evolve and change things up so if you have any suggestions or could share things you or others are doing, please comment below. Each one teach one…