Sunday, October 29, 2017

Organization Relay

Working with 6th graders means lots of helping reorganize overstuffed lockers, messy binders, and mystery-paper-filled backpacks. At our school, 6th grade is the youngest, meaning that having so many classes and transitions is new, and keeping it all organized is a major challenge.

This year, I am going in monthly to classes to deliver counseling lessons. Based on feedback from teachers, my co-counselor and I decided to start the year with lessons on organization and time management (I’ll be making a post on my time management activity soon!)

To prepare for the lesson, I put together a well-organized binder and a messy folder. I went to teachers from four different subjects and made two copies each of various pieces of work they had (homework, worksheets, etc). I gathered about 15-20 pieces of work total. I divided the binder into sections, hole punched and dated each piece of work, and placed them in order in the binder. For the folder, I only dated some of the sheets, shoved them all in with some upside down, and added in a few irrelevant doodles. I made a sheet with assignments the teams would have to retrieve in the relay. Each item on the list said the subject of the assignment, the name of the assignment, and the date it was given (e.g. ELA: Greek Mythology Document from September 14).

I started my lesson by telling students we were going to begin with a relay. I divided them into two teams and explained that in this relay students were going to have to retrieve the listed assignments. They would form a line behind the desk and one at a time find what was next on the list, show it to me, cross it off, and then the next person would go.

I then gave them the catch: that one team would have a well-organized binder and the other would have a folder with everything shoved in. Immediately some students on the folder team exclaimed “that’s not fair” or “oh no” and I told them to save their thoughts for the discussion afterward.

As expected, the binder team won every time (with one exception). In the follow-up discussion I asked whether the relay was fair, and why the organized team had the advantage. I had members from each team share their experiences, and students on the folder team expressed feeling stressed and frustrated finding their assignments in the folder. We discussed why it’s so commonplace for 6th graders to end up with something that looks more like the messy folder than the organized binder if it’s so much more difficult to deal with, and brainstormed ways to combat the obstacles to staying organized. I then had students share how they have kept themselves organized so far. Students were very engaged in the discussion and came up with excellent strategies on their own!  

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