January 2021 | Focus: Organization
Keeping it Together
As educators, we all know the importance organization plays in our own lives. Tools like calendars, checklists, agendas, and endless apps help us (literally) keep it together. For students the research is also clear, "data collected from journals, surveys, and students' grades indicated that any increase in student organization benefits students. Students lost fewer assignments and were better prepared for class when they had a sense of order" (ERIC, 2021).
When people think of organization skills, they tend to focus on the ability to keep physical things in order. While helping students to keep class papers in a folder and the folder in the backpack is vital for the management of workflow, it is more important to help them develop organization for cognitive reasons. Amanda Morin in her Understood article, 4 Ways Kids Use Organization Skills to Learn, summarizes perfectly why it is essential to spend time teaching students organizational skills. "Kids who have weak organization skills struggle with handling information in an effective and logical way. They often have difficulty setting priorities, making plans, sticking to a task and getting things done. These skills become increasingly important as your child moves through different grade levels" (Morin, 2021).
Given what we know, this month's Learning Focus looks to provide practical tips and ideas on how to build your students understanding and capacity around organization.
Organizing Students for Learning
Todd Finley in his Edutopia article, Organizing Students for Learning, offers ten simple strategies for helping students who struggle with executive function skills like organization and prioritization. Included in this publication is advice from several experts, who work with students with disabilities, on how to build organizational skills. Regardless if the students you are working with struggle with EF or not, the ideas provided will help students become more organized.
I Think I Did It, But I Can't Find It: Assisting Students Who Lack Organizational Skills
Carolyn Ito in her William & Mary Newsletter article, I Think I Did It, But I Can't Find It: Assisting Students Who Lack Organizational Skills, contends that "students who lack organizational skills are at a disadvantage because they often seem to be 'two steps behind' the rest of the class. In this piece, Ito provides practical information on organizing students' personal space, notebooks, planners, and time.
How to Keep Students Organized and Thriving in a Digital Classroom
EdSurge contributor Lindsay Dixon Garcia in her article, How to Keep Students Organized and Thriving in a Digital Classroom, takes a deep dive into what creates student disorganization. The main takeaway is that any system of organization should focus on "clear communication of objectives and expectations, as well as visibility into the work required to reach learning goals." Garcia also argues that information from teachers must be presented to students "in a way that is every bit as organized as we expect the students themselves to be. Given the world of remote learning we are all living in, this is a worthwhile read.