Friday, October 25, 2013

Student Organization: back to analog

With a week to go before the second unit test, I noticed that a handful of students were way behind the others. For the most part, this was due to poor time management in class, followed by little to no follow up at home. Some had also had an unusually high number of absences (though in an ideal world this wouldn't matter as all the learning resources are online).

In a traditional class, we would have pushed through, from lesson to lesson, note to note, assignment to assignment, trying to catch students up by trying to convince them to come in for extra help outside of class time. 

I'm amazed, looking back at how I used to run this course, how curriculum-driven my teaching was. With the responsibility for pace now in the hands of the students, I have the ability to sit down with a lot of my students one-on-one. 

Earlier this week, I sat down with those who were behind in an effort to help them get organized.

To do this, we took it back to the basics. I gave them a template - on paper - for them to reproduce - on paper - in order to plan out the last week of the unit. They had to come up with the schedule themselves by looking at what they had to do, judging how long it would take them, and how they would make up the difference in time.

Student-made schedules
Each day since doing this, I've checked back in with the students with schedules to see how they are doing. Are they on-track? Do they need to modify their timeline? Are they completing what they set out to complete each day?

The feedback has been positive. One student stuck with his schedule and was completely caught up by the end of the week. Others have jumped around in the schedule, completing items out of order, but still enjoying being able to check them off. Some are still struggling with time management, but at least this has chunked it down a bit for them.

As we move into the third unit of the course, we'll see if they improve their self-discipline and pacing.

I wonder if there is a digital way of doing this? Something more exciting than just a calendar app? I mean, I'm sure there is, but I haven't wrapped my head around it yet. Or is it sometimes better to come back to marker-and-paper to re-focus?


  1. I think that using Evernote with their own or school-owned technology tools should help the students learn to be more organized. Even their calendar apps should help. It is essential that digital age learners acquire and practice organizational skills with technology, and I think that it is great that you are differenting and working with the students individually to develop these strategies!

  2. I think simple time table might work, but I like the paper. Sometimes the physical feel of hte paper and pen is necessary.


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