“Oh man, I totally forgot that was due today!”

At least he was honest. Usually it’s just a flimsy excuse:

“I was almost done and the computer just crashed!”
“The system wouldn’t let me upload it!”
“I got scheduled for two extra shifts this week and didn’t get it done.”

True or not, these students’ likely would have gotten their assignments done and turned in on time if they used a simple tool available to them every single day.

Many of our students have an iPhone in their pocket or an iPad in their backpack. Often they have both.

That means they have a personal assistant.

There was a time in my life when I mocked – within my personal thoughts, mind you – the idea of having a personal assistant. Someone to make your appointments and copies. I seemed to think that having someone do those tasks for me was, well, below me. I can schedule my own appointments, thanks.

siriThen I met Siri. Ok, I didn’t meet her…it…whatever you’d like to call the personal assistant on my phone.

Siri means I can schedule an appointment, make a reminder, or get someone on the phone with the press of a button and a simple request. I seldom used reminders or calendar appointments until I hired Siri – or, I suppose more appropriately, Apple hired her.

calendarDon’t get me wrong, I used the calendar for meetings in Outlook. But unless it was of a certain importance (i.e. – a meeting with someone of a higher pay grade than myself) I wasn’t likely to schedule it.

However, the capability of pausing long enough to say, “Siri, remind me to email Failing Frank at 3:10 today,” has allowed me to focus my time, and more importantly my energy, in great ways.

What if we helped our students do this?reminders.PNG

What if, rather than having five reminders of an approaching due date fall on deaf ears, we stopped what class was doing for five minutes, had them retrieve their technology, and helped them learn how to utilize their own personal assistant?

It might go something like this:

  • “Everyone grab your iPad or phone.”
  • “When is your essay due? Yep, September 29th, so let’s set a few reminders.
  • “To set a reminder, press and hold the home button and say:
  • “Siri, remind me to do essay research at 5pm September 14th
    • Don’t just tell them: model it. Demonstrate it. Show them. Let them hear Siri read the reminder back to you to confirm. Oh, and don’t forget to thank her.

Then, give them time to do it!

  • “Pick a time that you can dedicate thirty to forty-five minutes to researching your essay. Now schedule a reminder to do it.”

Brain storm with them: What other reminders might be helpful to set?

  • “What are other parts of the process that a reminder or calendar appointment might be necessary for?”
    • Remind me to write my intro and conclusion on September 18th at 3pm
    • Schedule an appointment at the CLC for 2pm September 24th
    • Remind me my essay is due in two days at 8am on September 27th
  • “You have five minutes to set up your reminders and calendar appointments.”

Don’t just say it would be good for them: have them do it. In class. In front of you.


Yes, they are too old to require hand holding across the street. However, many of our students lack the mentors and examples in their lives that should be leading them across the path of time management.

And consider this: they just thought about the process necessary to complete the paper in the context of time.

If we can promote and provide space for this level of thought, we can help our students develop the habits of mind necessary to properly manage time and energy.

Also, reminders and appointments are the tip of the ice berg. Seriously, Siri does it all. Emails. Tweets. Web searches. She will even get your coffee…okay, she can’t get it, but she’ll sure tell you where to find it.


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