Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Organize Your Students

Well it's the beginning of a new school year and the best foot to start off on is the organized foot! What can you do to help your students be organized that might also make your life easier and could have the effect of enhanced learning? This may seem elementary, but teach your students how to use an agenda!

What? That's easy! I don't need to spend time on this! - Is that what you're thinking? Think again. Very few students are actually taught how to use an agenda. Most students are handed an agenda in September (or whatever month you start school in your corner of the earth) and told to write their homework in there. That may be all they're told.

I've been in classrooms where the teacher checks and signs the agendas everyday and the parents sign the agendas every night. That could be a little overkill, and if you invest some time teaching your students how and agenda works and what it can do for THEM, your hands-on time throughout the year could be reduced. (Plus who does real work the first day anyway?)

Teach your students that agendas are a tool for them to use, not a note home from the teacher to the parents that has nothing to do with them. Show them strategies like listing assignments and test dates on the month pages, and day-to-day homework on the week pages, and teach them that both types of pages represent the SAME days, so they should look to both. Have them input holidays and field trips into their agendas so they know what's coming up. Talk with them about colour coding and prioritising. Show them how to plan ahead when they have a large project or unit test to break the prep work up and do a little each day so they don't pull all-nighters.

Talk to your students about individuality. Let them know that there is no one way to use the agenda, they can use whatever strategy works best for them.

Teach them about routines with the agendas. They should be writing homework, assignment, and test information in their agendas throughout the day as it is discussed, not just copy everything down at the end of the day from the blackboard. They need to check their agendas before the end of school and gather the right materials to take home, not just so they don't forget to bring their novel for English that they have chapters to read, but also so they don't lug home their Science textbook if they finished their questions during class time. Show them that it helps them, not just you. Teach them the routines of checking off each part of their homework as they complete it, so that they won't miss the one question they get called on for the next day.

Agendas have other tools in them other than just a calendar. Go over these tools that your agendas have and talk about what they're for and what they could be used for to help the students.

Try to get the point across that people use agendas in real life. Show them your agenda, ask for a show of hands of students who have seen their parents using agendas, talk about the wall calendars that might be in their kitchens at home as a public family agenda (and while your at it, encourage them to copy down information from there that affects their school days). Talk about how doctors offices have agendas for the appointments a doctor has, use whatever examples you can think of. Discuss what would happen in an office if someone didn't write down assignments and due dates and check them.

Remember that they see the agenda as an annoying book they keep having to pull out that tells them to do their homework. Remind them that they are learning a real-world skill and that employers value promptness and productivity and that neither can be successfully attained long-term without an agenda, planner, or similar system.

Please comment or send your questions to me at organizingteacher@hotmail.com

Have great day!

Valerie :)