Planning Definition

Click the play button to listen to Dr. Gendron's definition of planning:

Sound bite transcription:

So planning is the set of abilities we develop in implementing tasks, and knowing which step is the first one, which one is the second one. It allows us to set priorities among the different steps involved in a task. It includes such good strategies, such as planning ahead, taking good decisions. A good analogy would be a baking project. A good planner would have all the ingredients ready ahead of time, in the order that they might need them. Again, the impact on learning is straight-forward. Planning and organization are both intricately related to one another. A student who has challenges with planning might not remember to bring the necessary tools home with him to study for the next exam, might not know which tasks to do first, and which to do next, etcetera.


Students with planning difficulties may:

  • complete tasks in an order that may seem illogical to others;
  • complete tasks “the hard way” or use inefficient strategies;
  • struggle to understand the possible consequences of their actions, especially when there are multiple possible outcomes;
  • struggle to manage their time, and fail to realize how long they need to complete a task or how long they have been off-task;
  • struggle to prioritize important tasks;
  • jump from one task to another without a plan or objective, or alternatively, perseverate and continue with one task for too long, even when it is not productive;
  • struggle to complete unstructured activities or larger projects.

Man at a desk with papers that read "plan"


Below is a list of possible strategies to support students with planning issues.

  • Use visual timers during class activities to help students manage their time. Have students time themselves to learn how long they need for different tasks.
  • Coach students to use an agenda or the calendar function on their devices.
  • Once a week, help students plan the week ahead by reviewing due dates, test dates, or upcoming events. Click here to access the template Weekly Planner.
  • Help students chunk tasks and schedule each step in the calendar, working backwards (e.g., If the project is due in 3 weeks, explicitly state what needs to be done next week, in two weeks, etc.). Have students progressively hand-in or show material as they complete each step.
  • Help students prepare for tests by using the same procedure as above (e.g., Chunk the study material week by week or day by day).


preview of Weekly Planner template

Click here to access the template Weekly Planner.