For my first observation-only field placement as a preservice teacher, I spent time in a classroom that had absolutely no routine for how students would start class. Some students would mosey their way in and lay their heads on their desks. Others would run and flop themselves down like the floor would all of a sudden become lava once the bell rang. Usually one or two would ask, “What are we doing today?” and then gradually become more disruptive as my mentor teacher would take roll and get his materials organized for the day’s lesson. After a few minutes of the class getting louder, he would finish his tasks and then struggle to get the students settled down.
This happened every. single. day. It quickly became obvious that a new routine was needed, and I vowed that my students would always know exactly what we were doing for the day as soon as they walked in. Enter my idea for a daily agenda slide! Starting on my very first day of teaching, I used a daily agenda slide in my classroom to help establish a routine and start class off on the right foot.
What is a daily agenda slide?
A daily agenda slide is a digital slide, usually in PowerPoint or Google Slides format, that you display at the front of the classroom where all of your students can see it. It includes important information about what you’re doing that day, as well as the learning objective(s) and any necessary materials. This post will tell you everything you need to know about creating your own, but you can also download my free daily agenda PowerPoint template if you want to save yourself some time. It’s completely editable!
Two of the five slides available in my fully-editable, free daily agenda template that can be used with PowerPoint or Google Slides.
What should you include on your daily agenda slide?
You should tailor your slide to best fit your classroom context. While it’s completely up to you to decide what to include, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- This one should be obvious, and I highly recommend including it. Never hear “what is today?” seventeen times an hour again!
- Learning objective
- You may be required to post a learning objective everyday, and an agenda slide is a great place to put it. My first school required a SWBAT (Students will be able too…), so that’s what I always put on mine. However, you could also list an essential question or an Understand objective too. No matter what, choose an objective that makes it crystal clear what students should understand or be able to do by the time they leave your class.
- This is just a list of all of the different tasks or activities students will complete. This might include a quiz, discussion, game, etc. If you struggle a lot with time management when you’re teaching, you may find it helpful to list the time estimates for each phase of the lesson right on the agenda.
- Bell ringer task
- Bell ringers have like a million names (first 5, warm-up, bellwork, etc.), but I’m talking about whatever you call the task you want students to complete as soon as they enter the room. My bell ringer tasks usually ask students to respond to a couple of questions. These either serve as review for previous topics we’ve covered, or they serve as an introduction to the day’s topic.
- Some schools also require teachers to post standards. You can list the standard code (ex. RL.6.1) or the full language (ex. Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text) of the standard.
- The materials that students need each day varies widely in my classroom, so I always list the needed materials on the daily agenda slide. This is especially important if students need something they may not already have with them like scissors, glue sticks, etc.
- Remind students about homework, upcoming due dates, quizzes, etc. Some teachers choose to have students copy homework assignments straight from the daily agenda slide into their own personal calendars or planners as part of the beginning of class routine.
- Last Class/Next Class
- My slides always feature a box where I list the topic of the last class and the topic of the next class. This helps us make connections between what we’ve already learned, and also look ahead to see where we’re going next. It helps provide students with a longer term vision of the overall unit.
- Shout Outs
- I like to include a fun shout out box that can serve lots of purposes. Sometimes I wish students happy birthday in the box. I also like to keep students informed about upcoming school events like family night or band concerts. It’s also a great place to congratulate clubs and teams after competitions.
- School Logo
- This one definitely isn’t necessary, but I like to add a little bit of school spirit to my slides. You could also add a mascot or something to represent your team/pod if your school uses them.
- I never add quotes to my slides, but one of my ELA colleagues liked to add a literary quote every day. You could also add motivational quotes or statements that help students work on their growth mindsets.
- Trivia/Brain teaser
- Students love a good brain teaser or trivia question. Just beware that these can sometimes be distracting from the actual bell ringer task if you include both.
- I don’t use a timer every single day, but they’re a great addition to daily agenda slides for some teachers. I usually only use them on days when I know we might run out of time and therefore want students to feel a sense of urgency. You might use a timer every single day if it makes sense for your daily routine. For example, some classrooms have 10-15 minutes of independent reading time at the start of class. A timer would be an excellent idea to incorporate into your slides in this case.
What are the benefits of a daily agenda slide?
Now that we’ve discussed what could be included on a daily agenda slide, let’s talk about all of the benefits of having one!
1. Establish expectations and a daily routine
As soon as students enter my classroom, they know exactly what they need and what they should be working on without me having to tell them–all just by looking at the daily agenda slide! It’s important to use your slide consistently so students get used to knowing where to look. Set the expectation early, and make sure to revisit it later on if students get lazy about looking at the slide. We all know how important the beginning of class can be for affecting the entire class period. Make sure your students start the day off right!
2. Save valuable learning time
By establishing a routine, you communicate to students that your time together is valuable and not a single minute should be wasted. Students know exactly what they’re doing, what they need, and what their learning goal is for the day. This means you no longer have to waste time going over simple directions or having students get out of their seats to gather various materials. Instead, they should be gathering those materials as soon as they enter the classroom, often before the bell even rings.
3. Allow time to complete necessary teacher tasks
Sometimes you just need a few minutes to gather your thoughts or complete housekeeping tasks like taking roll or checking in with students. Having students work independently on a bell ringer frees you up to do these things.
4. Communicate learning goals
The content included on a daily agenda slide can vary, but I highly recommend using some space to communicate learning goals through a SWBAT, essential question, or Understand objective.
5. Impress your administrators
I can tell you from personal experience that administrators love daily agenda slides. They recognize them as valuable classroom management tools that help convey expectations and learning goals for the day. Don’t just take my word for it — see for yourself what other teachers are saying!
6. Build classroom community
My editable template includes space for shoutouts, upcoming events, and other information. I often use my slide for things like congratulating school groups after competitions. This helps students see that I value them as humans and support their interests outside of my classroom. What a great way to build classroom community!
7. Add daily agenda slides to your absent work system
I always print a copy or two of my slide and add it to our absent work hanging folders. That way if students miss a day, they can always look in the folder and see everything that they missed. Students know to check the folder, make up their bell ringer, read the agenda, and gather any other handouts in the folder before asking me what they missed. Such a time saver!
8. Plan for next year
I save all of my agenda slides in one folder so I can refer back to them as needed. It’s so helpful when I want to look back on how I taught a certain topic last year. I also like to add myself notes and reminders about the lessons when I think something should be tweaked or improved.
9. Reduce discipline issues
When students have something to do and know exactly what is expected of them, they are less likely to wander around the room, distract their friends, or cause mischief.
10. Help provide a smooth transition to middle school
While I think daily agenda slides can (and should!) be used in all secondary classrooms, I think they can be especially helpful for students making the transition from elementary to middle school. As students enter 6th grade, it is often the first time they are responsible for moving between classrooms, keeping track of all of their belongings, and learning the personalities, expectations, and routines of multiple teachers. Having an established routine like the use of a daily agenda slide can help reduce anxiety and smooth this transition for these students. It’s even more helpful if you can get other teachers on your team or in your building to use the system too! My team agreed to use the same slide format, but with a custom color for each teacher. Our students loved the routine!
11. Free up board space
I don’t know about you, but I always feel like I’m running out of room on my white board. By using a digital daily agenda slide, I don’t have to use any valuable board space for things like writing the date or learning objectives.
12. Communicate with parents
Sharing your daily agenda slides is also a great way to communicate with parents and keep them informed of the daily happenings in your classroom. Some teachers choose to upload their slides on their classroom websites to help make this process easier.
What else should you know about daily agenda slides?
You already know all the major stuff by now, but I have just a few more tips to help get you started.
Tip #1: It’s best to establish the routine of using a daily agenda slide at the beginning of the year, but don’t worry if you didn’t do that. It’s simple enough that students will pick up on how it works no matter when you choose to implement the strategy. So who cares if it’s March? Just go for it! Just remember to be consistent with it and use the slide everyday if you can. Soon enough, students will be asking where it is if you skip a day.
Tip #2: When you do implement a daily agenda slide, it can help to go over the slide together with students for the first couple of weeks. I also like to provide positive feedback when students are on task, have their materials, etc. We also go over the learning goal together at the beginning of each class so students can ask questions if they have any. This gets students used to reading all parts of the slide, making sure they start following directions as soon as they walk into class, etc.
Tip #3: If students will be using materials they don’t always carry with them, I lay these out right as they enter the classroom. I have a table right inside my door where I lay out our interactive notebooks and anything special we need for the day such as Post-It notes, colored pencils, scissors, tape, glue sticks, etc. Students know that if there is anything sitting on that table, they should just grab it as they walk in. Occasionally they forget, but the slide always reminds them. Most of my students actually read the slide as they’re walking in, so they don’t even have to get back up.
Tip #4: You may want to revisit the daily agenda slide at the end of class to help with wrap-up. I reference the learning objective(s) again and allow students to practice metacognition as they reflect back on the class period, think through what they learned, and ultimately determine how confident they’re feeling in relation to the objectives. I find it’s also helpful to have the slide showing as students complete exit tickets. Plus, going back to the slide at the end of class means it’s always ready for the next period!
Tip #5: Some teachers, including me, use PowerPoint for their daily agenda slides. I just find this easier since I use PowerPoint pretty much everyday anyway, and my school does not have access to 1:1 devices. If your students do have access to devices, though, you should definitely consider a Google Slides agenda template. Although my free daily agenda slides were created in PowerPoint, you can simply upload them into Google Slides and edit them right there in Google.
Daily agendas are an excellent way to establish routines and maintain clear expectations in your classroom. Are you convinced yet? Will you be giving daily agenda slides a try? What other tips and tricks do you have to help streamline your classroom? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!