Teaching Articles

The Art of Student Planning

Kids today are busier than ever. They have eight subjects each day, assignments, projects, student council meetings, varsity or band practice, youth org meetings. Let’s not forget that they  also need to carve out time for spiritual activities, family and friends. With so many activities lined up, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed, fatigued and stretched out. Most kids will just shut down and do nothing – a sort of escapism from all the responsibilities that they don’t know how to juggle.

The problem lies with time management. Often, young adults are overwhelmed by the responsibilities expected from them because they never learned to manage their time. They say yes to everything, forget about prior commitments and then end up with too much on their plate.

In line with our  Values Education lessons about personal growth and development, I’ve decided to encourage my students to practice the lost art of student planning. I recently assigned a Student Planner as my year-long project for my 8th grade students under Values Education. It’s my hope that this will help train my students to be  mindful of how they spend their time.

The Project’s Goals

  1. Teach students to map out their weekly schedules so that they can identify time-wasting activities and focus on enriching and important activities.
  2. Encourage students to jot down important information, submission deadlines and appointments so they can have a visual representation of how their time should be spent.
  3. Help alleviate unnecessary stress brought about by deadlines and cramming.
  4. Create a sense of accomplishment each time a student strikes off a task from his list.

How to Setup a Planner

While there are ready-made planners but my students are free to choose what type of planner they want to use. Their choice of planner will also depend on their personality, if they like to make lists or they like to map out their day using boxes. They can use a ready-made planner, a printable planner, or a regular notebook.

Here are two of many planner formats to draw inspiration from:

Bullet Journal design by Ryder Carrol

Passion Planner designed by Angelia Trinidad

My personal tips on maintaining a student planner:

  1. Always bring it with you. It’s important to always have your planner with you so that you can check your schedule before committing to a new task.
  2. Choose one that’s easy to carry. Use a planner that’s portable so you can always carry it with you and jot down information anytime you need to.
  3. Highlight deadlines. This will help you find important dates faster.
  4. Map out important dates like exams and events. This way you can plan activities around important events.
  5. Use codes to help you differentiate events, tasks, appointments.
  6. Be consistent! Always use the same color for specific details like dates or exams.
  7. Always update your planner before you sleep. Cross out tasks you’ve already accomplished and reschedule postponed tasks.

Free Resource

I’ve rounded up a few blogs that offer free downloadable and printable planners to serve as inspiration or resource for my students.

  1. Weekly Passion Planner
  2. Full Download 2015 Passion Planner
  3.’s Simple Weekly Planner
  4. Heather Ink’s Weekly Planner
  5. Rabiscarte’s free 2015 Planner
  6. OrphanSurvivalGuide’s Student Planner
  7. The Organized Student’s Free Planner Pages
Teaching Articles

The Good Box: Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom


I wanted to reward my students for good behavior. In the past, I gave small gifts to students who got the highest score in my exams. I even had a star chart placed next to my board, so that they can see their class achievements outside the classroom.

This year, I’ve decided to implement “The Good Box”. When my students do a good deed in class, a teacher can add her name to the box. At the end of the month, we will draw one winner from the Good Box. We also have a reward for Cleanest Student of the Month.


  1. To qualify for the Good Box program, a subject teacher must nominate a student using the Good Box.
  2. To qualify for the Good Box program, the student must not have a disciplinary record for that month.
  3. To qualify for the Good Box program, the student must have perfect attendance for that month.
  4. To qualify for the Cleanest Student Award, the student must keep her area clean for the entire month. The basis will be the CLAYGO (Clean As You Go) form, checked by assigned class officers and class adviser.
  5. The draw will be done in front of the class.
  6. A winner cannot win both awards.
  7. A winner cannot win two months in a row.
  8. The class adviser reserves the right to redraw a name.

There you go, that’s my stab at positive reinforcement.

Teaching Articles

The How and Why of Interactive Notebooks

The Interactive Notebook System (INS) is designed to teach students to better note-taking skills and allow them to synthesize what they’ve learned in their own creative way. Students may use any type of notebook as long as they meet the following criteria:

  1. Size – it should be at least A5 or regular sized notebook. Students may choose  to use an A5 binder provided that students will always have notepaper at hand. The notebook should not be attached to other subject’s notebook, (i.e. Cattleya binders, 3-in-1 notebooks, etc.).
  2. Durability – the binding should be sturdy because we will be pasting a lot of materials to the page
  3. Thickness – at least 100 pages.

The “INPUT” page is where all the teacher-driven  information, handouts, lectures and testable information are written or pasted. We will use  a simplified  version of the Cornell Note-taking Method to help students take notes more efficiently.

This is a simple guide to the Cornell Note-taking Method by Writer’s Bloc

The “OUTPUT” page is where the students rearrange information to suit their personal learning styles. Activities for this page may be teacher-prompted or freestyle depending on the topic at hand. We do “OUTPUTS” as a form of lesson summary but we only do it after 4-5 different lessons.

This is a great example of an OUTPUT page made by Sunni Brown.

We keep a unified table of contents for the INS and everyone should have the same material or topic for the same page. I check the notebooks randomly, for this reason the students need to make sure that their notebooks are always updated.The notebooks will be done in class as seatwork and graded based on the following Rubric:

Please check the RESOURCE page for the printable materials we may use per subject and year level.  Some are my design while others are from amazing designers and teachers who share their materials online  through blogs and the TeacherPayTeacher marketplace. I will do my best to attribute and link to the correct sources as much as possible.

Teaching Articles

New School, New Class, New Room

After a two-year hiatus, I’m back in the workforce. While I loved the time I spent focusing on our home, I had to admit that I missed teaching. I missed the grind. This year, I’ll be teaching at my High School Alma Mater. I feel that in a way, I’ll be giving back to a community that I grew up in. This is where I first discovered my talents and now I get to share those talents to a new generation of IPSR students. I’m happy to be back.

We finished our In-service Training a few days before school started and while we had to finish the first quarter course outlines,  I had one more hurdle to tackle: my classroom.


Our community-supported school is non-profit and like most schools, the responsibility of decorating the classroom falls on the teacher’s shoulder (and pocket).  Yes, the school is doing their routine maintenance but my room needs more TLC than most. Thus, my dilemma.

I really believe that a room’s color and decor affects the learner’s mood and drive. I mean, how can I inspire students to think creatively when there’s so much visual clutter to distract them from the task? I knew that I needed to repaint the room, at least. Three days before the school opened, we did just that. By we, I meant me, my husband, his uncle and the school maintenance staff.  This involved coming to school on a weekend just to finalize everything. But it was worth it.


My new classroom isn’t fully decorated yet. But it will be. For now I’m just happy that it’s new paint color is easy on the eyes. It makes me smile each time I enter the room and I know that my students also appreciate the new look. They’re actually quite attached to it now.

Update: Our very kind PTG group covered the cost of painting materials! Thank you, PTG President, Mrs. Inovejas for the support!

Student Achievement

Flashback Friday: 9 Mira’s Journalism Project

Going through some of my files, I stumbled upon the work of some of my students from Riyadh International School. One of my favorite thus far is their Journalism Project: a TV News Program featuring the events around their school. Ever creative, this batch certainly rose to the challenge.

They didn’t have special training in Audio Visual Production, they just used their creativity and ingenuity to complete the assigned task. I loved how they managed to use blue screen and recreate a TV studio. Needless to say, I miss these kids.  I wish them all the luck in their chosen fields.