Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Start with a blank planner

At my old school, our PYP Coordinator used to tell us to “start with a blank planner” rather than pull out the planner we had completed the year before and rework it. Actually a lot of teachers grumbled about this approach and said it was reinventing the wheel, but now that I’ve moved to another school I can see the logic behind it. If we always start with the end in mind it’s easier to think about how to get there. If we start with what we did before, with a book we used the previous year or a favourite activity or lesson plan that we are simply recycling, we merely end up with an activity-based learning experience rather than truly focusing on the concepts we want the students to understand.

Photo Credit:  Blank by Cameron Cassan


  1. Well said, as always! That's why the new units are always the best ones I think. Specially when we've only been a PYP school a few years (auth visit next week!) and our understandings are deepening every year. I'm sending this to my PYP coordinator right now. I'm sure she'll have something to say!!

  2. Hi Maggie,
    Your blank planner approach made me think about what we do. We dutifully collect the reflections and then highlight all the old thoughts in yellow. Then... here is the funny thing, we tend to ignore the old planner and explore the unit with the new and richer understandings we had gained over the year. We find there is always soemthing new that we have learned since we last planned and we are keen to explore that. So.. the old planner most times (I admit on occasion this is not so) does not really seem to inhibit us. Maybe if we had days to plan this would be the ideal situation.. but we seem so pressed for time and our past thinking seems to help from the reflections pages and not the others. We always reject many of the things we had done as there are new teachers to the level and ideas brought to the table. I think having many heads at planning and different approaches helps to stop recycling too.

  3. I think blank slates are wonderful. What a great philosophy to have! While we don't always have to reinvent the wheel, starting fresh each year helps keep the focus on the individuals we are teaching and keeps us from plugging in the same lessons year after year because of convenience.