Organization

Introduction: How to use Notes More Effectively

For the next few weeks, I will be covering note-taking strategies and tips.  Taking notes in class and from textbooks is a skill. And like most study skills, it is rarely modeled. This is unfortunate because notes are an invaluable resource for students, especially in college.  Notes support the whole learning cycle, they can use for encoding and can be converted into quizzable study tool. Taking notes in class has historically helped students stay focused and attentive.  As we move away from…

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Transitioning to College: Basic Life Skills

When I work with college students I notice that a lot of the stuff getting in the way is the small life stuff. These tasks have very little to do with direct school achievement, but they dramatically reduce their ability to be productive.  Here is a video explaining the small skills that every college freshman should know before they leave home.   Like 0

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Graphic Organizers

Do you feel stressed when your teacher announces a test? Do you have a hard time figuring out how to use your worksheets, textbooks, online activities, and class notes? Graphic Organizers are a great way for students to organize all of the information they get from each class. This general format students can use to help them organize their materials in any class or subject.  Graphic Organizers help students take materials that are given or assigned to them and allow…

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Note Taking Template: Literature

I have created a note-taking template that students can use to help guide their literature reading so they can write a thoughtful and polished essay with less stress. Using this template as students read will help them avoid time-consuming strategies such as re-reading to find relevant quotes or flipping through a mountain of sticky notes throughout the book. I have included additional lists and reflective questions to help students jump-start their reading and writing process  Using a template can help students…

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Book Review: Getting Things Done for Teens

Getting Things Done for Teens is the newest GTD book by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace. The book’s message is essential: teens need a strategy to address their complex world. The book is intended to help teens and tweens avoid many of the common pitfalls that happen when we enter adulthood without tangible organizational skills. While there are many positives parts of this book, it, unfortunately, falls into the trap of trying to adjust an adult level organization system…

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Planners: A Strategic Advantage

As I work with students, I have noticed that the use of planners has started to become less frequent. When I was young planners were the go-to organization tool for students. I think that the shift away from paper planners is a result of more assignments being put online.  Online systems are a great way for students to track their homework, but they have limitations. There is a strategic advantage to using a planner in conjunction with online systems. Planners…

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Hidden Complexity of Technology and Homework

We are in the middle of understanding how to use technology effectively in education. Integrating technology into teaching is a complex negotiation process because there are so many moving parts and individual needs that must be taken into consideration. Many adults assume that students can navigate all types of technology and platforms with ease. While younger generations may be more comfortable with devices, they do not know how to translate them into effective study strategies.  Often developmental milestones and limits to…

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The Secret of Getting Things Done

I often hear my students repeat a pervasive myth about achieving in school. They believe that if they want to get more stuff done, they need to find more motivation. As a result, they often spend a lot of time and effort trying to find such a secret and elusive motivator. However, the secret that productive people know is that you can’t count on motivation, because it is unpredictable and fleeting. I teach my students that the key to getting…

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Maintaining Accurate Family Calendars

Do you ever feel like you have trouble keeping your family calendar current? Family calendars help make time visible for the whole family. They are also an excellent way to model organization. Family Calendars as the most useful when they are as accurate as possible. To maintain accuracy they should be updated on a regular basis. These meetings do not need to take more than 5-10 minutes and can be apart of other gatherings such as before or after dinner. The frequency…

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Importance of Family Calendars

A shared calendar is a keystone to family and student organization. As children grow their schedules often become more complicated at the same time they are trying to establish their independence. Family calendars help make time visible for the whole family highlighting how all activities fit together and help families identify conflicts or extraordinarily busy days. Like 0

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Review: My Class Tracker – High School and Middle School

I am always searching for great planners for my students. It is often difficult to find a good planner that accurately captures the unique scheduling needs of students. After listening to an interview with the designer, of My Class Tracker, I decided to test with a few with of my students. My students who used the planner thought that it was better than the other systems they had been using.  They universally felt that it helped them organize their school…

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Unique Student Schedules

The unique organizational needs of students often go unnoticed. The underlying complexity can go undetected because the school day provides a consistent structure. From the outside, a typical weekly student schedule often looks very standard with only a small amount of variation. However, on closer inspection, our modern school structure is very intricate and require a considerable amount of navigation and customization. For all intents and purposes, students have a collection of bosses; one for each class. They must learn how…

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Review: ScholarPrep College Organizer

Are you stressed about college the college admissions process? There is understandably a lot of excitement stress around preparing for college. The process can feel overwhelming. I have found that the key to successfully navigating this process is to start early and to keep track of the awards, accomplishments, and events along the way. This approach can help students and parents be less anxious about because there are concrete steps they can take to shape their future proactively and will be…

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Prevent Burnout- Increase your Organizational Skills

Do you ever feel like you have so much homework? Do you ever wonder how you will get it all done?  Do you ever wonder why you feel so stressed out about how you will get all of your stuff done and keep your stress in check? There are a lot of things that cause stress for students. Often the stress is drastically increased because we do not teach organizational skills. I think of organizational skills and homework like a train.…

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