By Robin Satty, EdD
This is the second in a 4-part series on organization strategies that will cover organizing things, organizing scheduled time, organizing unscheduled time, and maintaining organization systems. In the last post, we discussed organizing things. Here, we will discussed organizing scheduled time.
Organizing scheduled time sounds funny - why would anyone need to organize time if it’s already scheduled? Well, it’s usually not scheduled down to the minute (and that would be awful). However, a 40- or 50-minute class (or longer, if it’s block scheduling) has a lot of minutes to manage and it’s not practical for teachers to explicitly direct students on how to manage every single one of those minutes.
Many students struggle with knowing when to listen, when to take notes, and when to doodle. These goals can help students manage their time so they can get the most learning out of every class.
Remember, our basic rules are:
Keep it simple
Meet students where they are
Keep it novel (without breaking rule 1)
The list below has a series of small evidence-based goals that build upon one another to help students get (and stay) organized. The list picks up where the previous list ended and continues into the next articles in the series.
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Goal 3: Prioritize listening and learning.
Active Listening: As much as possible, maintain eye contact with the teacher, especially when they are giving directions or explaining new content. This means students might miss a few moments of note-taking during a class or get started on assignments a few moments later. Those things can be fixed later (but not yet - that’s a goal for another day), but it’s easier to compare notes to a classmate or google a detail than it is to re-learn big concepts.
Easy Pens: It’s easier to listen when a student isn’t using a pen that doesn’t write smoothly, rips the paper, or has too many moving parts. An easy pen is sturdy, writes consistently, doesn’t smudge, and doesn’t have too many little pieces that can be chewed off or broken.
A Respectful Fidget: Did you know fidgeting can actually improve retention of information during a lecture? An ideal fidget is quiet, doesn’t distract other students, and doesn’t have parts that can get lost or leave a mess. A kneadable erasers fits the bill and also double as…an eraser. It even fits neatly inside a pencil case! Students should consider checking in with their teachers to make sure their choice of fidget tool is not a distraction or against any school rules.
Goal 4: Take notes for retention.
Colored Pens: Color serves the dual purposes of helping retain information and adding novelty into note-taking. The tricky part is to keep the colored pens from getting distracting or overwhelming. Here are a few ideas for doing that:
Use a different color pen for each class.
Use one color for key words and another color for big ideas. Write everything else in black.
Grab a different color whenever there’s need for novelty to stay focused.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Organizing Unscheduled Time