Mid-Year Reorganization Strategies- Help Students to be SuccessfulBy Dede Rittman
The second semester should be a “second chance” for students; specifically, a chance to improve on their first semester performance. Very often, we as teachers tell our students to “Get organized!” The “telling” technique works for only a very select few students. A better way to help students to improve their performance, grades, homework completion, study skills, and organization skills is to teach them a few basics about organization, skills that that can take with them beyond your classroom.
I was a teacher for 37 years, teaching 10th grade Academic English II; Essential English II, Introduction to Theater, and Forensics. Throughout my career, I encountered many students who encompassed all of the learning disability labels, and the strategies for organization I am going to share with you worked for both the underachievers and the overachievers, because these strategies are simple, easy to implement, and they work. When students are organized, the teacher also enjoys a lighter work load. These strategies will require a little work on your part, but just until the students become accustomed to your expectations. By the way, these strategies work for upper elementary through college.
Let’s begin with requirements. Each student is required to have a large 3-ring binder. (Not the skinny one inch binders, the wide ones which can hold a lot of papers!) In the front of the binder, each student must have a cloth or plastic pencil/ pen pouch, containing a large soft eraser, 2 number 2 pencils, 2 pens, and a highlighter. The binder will be divided into sections: for example, the English section, the social studies section, the math section, and the science section. Other sections may be added as needed. Each section must be separated by a divider with a tab, and labeled.
Your job as the teachers to be sure that you hand out papers which you have 3 hole-punched. Upon receiving the papers, the student writes the date at the top of the paper, and places the paper in the correct sequential order of dates in the correct section. Result? No more squashed and torn papers at the bottom of backpacks, no more “lost” papers. What about a quiz, test, or homework that is returned? It must be 3 hole-punched if you want it to be a part of the notebook.
What are the benefits of this organizational program so far? With the pencil and pen pouch, you will be thrilled that your students have writing utensils, eliminating the need to borrow one. Everyone has a highlighter when needed. With all of the papers hole-punched and in order, no more missing, torn, or crumpled papers at the bottom of the backpack, no more excuses that “I left it at home.” What about absentees? If a student is absent, put their name and date on the papers you are distributing so that you can just hand them to the student when he returns. Taking care of absentees could even be a classroom job that rotates from student to student. Papers could be stored on a stacked tray, with one tray for each class period, and students would be responsible to retrieve their missed papers after returning to class.
Every Monday, the teacher should hand out a weekly calendar as an assignment sheet and have students fill in the dates for the week. At the end of each class period, give students a minute or two to write down the homework assignments, which you have written on the board. It is a good idea to have students write down whether or not they need to take their book home as well. No more excuses for “I forgot what the assignment was” or “I did not know I needed my book.” You can clue in the parents about your organizational strategies, and they can also check the assignment sheet to see what needs to be completed.
Besides weekly assignments, students need to learn to be organized to complete long term assignments. At the beginning of each month, hand out a [continued on next page]