Student Planners. Student agendas, Homework journals. Whatever your school or district calls them, they have been popular for years. When I was in middle school my teachers tried t teach us organization with binder checks. Yes, we received explicit instruction in binder organization, and the beloved Trapper Keeper was banned. When I taught middle school we gave each student a Student agenda- a calendar in spiral bound book format/bathroom pass/parent communication tool. I shared some idea on how teachers and staff can use Microsoft Planner for personal or group projects a while back, as well as how students can use Planner for group projects. Well, we are on Day 2 of our spring semester in my district, so it seems like a good time to discuss how to use Microsoft Planner, as well, student planners. Welcome to Day 65 of 365 Ideas for Office 365– Student Planners.
Accessing Planner in Office 365
Planner is one of the apps that is part of Office 365 (It also can be part of any Microsoft Teams, where it has some added functionality with your Outlook calendar.) But today we are going to look at it as a standalone tool in O365.
So log into your O365 account, and click on the waffle in the top right corner and follow along!
By the way, these are the same steps that I would recommend walking your students through. If you would like a PDF of these steps to print out for students, subscribe to this blog for a free copy. (Remember to check your spam folder for the confirmation email!)
Office 365 uses a bit of AI with your drop-down menu, so you probably won’t see Planner listed here as one of your most frequently used apps, and will have to click on the “All apps” at the bottom, then scroll down through the alphabetical list to click on Planner.
Create a New Plan
You will probably open into the Planner Hub, which you can see is highlighted in the column on the left. We want to create new plan, so click on that.
I’m going to name mine “Assignments”, but feel free of course to have your students call it something else, like classwork and homework. I do recommend that you don’t make it specifically “Math assignments” or “Science homework”, because the whole purpose f for students to keep all of the assignments in one easy to manage, and easier to access location.
After a few seconds your new plan is created, and you will see your mostly empty board.
You have one empty task box to start. You can give the task a name (like Physics Homework) and mark when it is due. If your students have Outlook, Assigning it to themselves will also send them an email that the task has been assigned to them, but the goal here is that they open Planner to keep track, not Outlook. Click the big green button to “save” it.
When you need to add another task (more work!) that’s when you click on the button.
Columns, I Mean, “Buckets”
Think of “Buckets” as columns. You can add as many as you need. That could mean just adding a “finished” column. Or it could be as complex as 1. To Do (you can also click on the bucket name to change it) 2. Started 3. Completed 4. Turned in 5. Graded.
Label tasks in Student Planner
Once you have added a task, if you click on the ellipses you can give it a label.
This only adds a color to each task. If you want to edit the label, you have to click anywhere on the task except the three dots, which opens a whole slew of additional tools and features.
Click on a label color to the right to add text to your label. Tasks can have more than one label so you can have Math and HW, for instance. The labels still just show colors, but if you hover over them they show the text. This is because there is very little space between buckets, and you don’t want your label on top of the item to the right.
You can add any notes you need to remember here.
Add a Checklist for Longer Tasks
If your task is more like a long-term project with multiple steps to be completed over a period of time, consider adding a checklist. This allows you to check off items as you go and doesn’t clutter your board with multiple tasks that are part of a single assignment. (it also feels great to check things off as you complete them!
You can also choose to display the checklist on the task card
If you are using digital student planners, chances are you are in a digital classroom. That means when your teachers assign you work, they distribute Word documents though Microsoft Teams or Google Docs through Google Classroom. Add attachments allows you to attach those documents directly to the Planner task in your student planner telling you to do it!
There’s an app for that
I’ve been doing all of this on a computer, on the Office 365 site. But all of these tools exist in the Planner app for iPhone and Android- fully featured. And let’s face it, your students are far more likely to check their student planners on a phone, since they typically have that with them, and only have to tap the screen once or twice to open it, than to open the site on a computer.
So there you have it- student planners for this decade that fully integrates with the other Microsoft Office education and productivity tools your students need. So share it with your classes!
P.S. Try out the Charts, Schedule and … at the top for more useful views and even more tools!
Using Planner in Teams
By the way, if you would like more information on using Microsoft Planner inside of Microsoft Teams, this is a great place to start.
If you like this style of directions and screenshots, walking you through ideas for using Microsoft tools in your classroom, check out my book,
All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform Your Classroom: 50 Ideas for using Microsoft Office 365 for Education available on amazon in both Kindle and paperback.