Most of us know what it’s like to work with someone who is very organized. They are always on time for meetings, send deliverables before they’re due and keep their desk neat. While sometimes these people are laughed at for being OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), they tend to be very focused on getting the job done on time and on budget.
At the other end of the spectrum are people who are typically disorganized. Their desk is probably messy and they always seem to be running around trying to find something which makes it hard to work with them when they’re part of a team. Most of us fall somewhere in between.
Whether being organized comes naturally to you or it’s a little more work to get into that frame of mind, it’s important to remember that anyone can be organized – it’s a skill that can be learned and used as a strategy for success in school and elsewhere in life.
Being organized is a transferable skill that can be used in most settings. For students, being organized is particularly important since it helps them learn how to prioritize activities, set and achieve goals and reduce stress. Having good organizational skills also makes it easier to collaborate with others and helps increase productivity and efficiency.
Set students up for success with organizational skills
Teaching students at a young age how to become organized is a skill that will help them for the rest of their lives. It’s easy for an elementary school student to get overwhelmed by homework, afterschool activities and spending time with friends, so parents often serve in that organizational role. While there isn’t a discipline in school for teaching students how to be organized (it’s not like math or science), there are ways that teachers can help students learn techniques that help them become more organized and efficient. The key is to create an environment at school and at home that teaches children to value being organized.
Helping students develop good organizational practices
Teaching children how to organize their schoolwork can be broken down into three areas:
• Outline the project: At the start of an assignment, students should outline what the project is, determine what items are needed to complete the assignment, create checklists to keep them on task and get a sense of the time involved for each step of the project.
• Stay focused: Once an outline and checklist have been created, students can continually refer back to the outline to make sure they remain focused on getting the job done. Breaking down a project into individual pieces helps keep students focused on the tasks that must be done in order to complete the assignment.
• Completing the task: By following the checklist, asking questions and keeping on a timeline, students learn important skills that will be needed when they graduate.
Keep in mind that these three areas might be asking a lot from someone in elementary school. The key is to help teach children the different aspects of being organized so that, over time, they will adopt these practices.
OneNote and Content Library help set the foundation
Skooler’s Learning Management System (LMS) is designed to help teachers create and manage all of their lessons and supporting materials, collaborate with colleagues and improve communication with parents. Being able to easily organize and share content makes teachers more productive and efficient and two features of Skooler’s LMS, OneNote and Content Library, are a big help.
OneNote is a digital notebook that lets teachers easily create assignments, tag content and share materials with students, colleagues and parents. Teachers can use the digital whiteboard feature to play audio and display video files which can be stored and accessed by students. While teachers don’t have to share all of their files with students, much of the organization of assignments and class materials is transparent to students, enabling them to see how keeping files organized helps the teacher easily lead lessons plans and access content.
Unlike the old days when teachers kept lesson plans in folders and file cabinets, OneNote and Content Library helps students learn how to organize materials, share those materials with others and experience firsthand the value of being organized. Two features of interest include:
• Notetaking is an important skill for everyone to learn. For students who have difficulty organizing their ideas, OneNote lets you create audio recordings that can be included in a presentation.
• Immersive Reader is a feature that helps students organize their ideas. Originally designed to help students with dyslexia and dysgraphia, content can be read back to students which helps them organize their thoughts.
For example, imagine a high school English teacher assigning their class an essay and one student is having a problem with coming up with an opening paragraph to introduce the topic. The teacher can explain how to write an opening paragraph, record that explanation, and the student can access the audio file with the explanation. The teacher can present more information about how to organize the essay and where to include quotes and endnotes. Some students learn better through verbal cues so the ability to record the steps needed to complete the essay can be a big help. What’s especially helpful is that students can listen to any part of the recording over and over again to keep the explanation fresh in their mind.
Similarly, Content Library lets students store all of their electronic documents in one location, and teachers can create individual libraries to store lessons plans and all supporting materials. An easy way to understand the Content Library is to think of an old-style metal file cabinet. Instead of placing manila folders in the file cabinet and putting hard copies of lessons in the cabinet, teachers simply upload their materials into the system. Teachers can set permissions on documents so that students, parents and colleagues can access specific documents. This creates an incredibly organized online system that can be used year after year so that teachers only need to update new materials instead of recreating the same materials over and over.
Content Library lets teachers easily create, share and store lesson plans and supporting materials that can be used and updated each year. Parents and students can access the materials when they are doing homework (read-only and permissions are included) and parents can see the entire lesson to get a better idea of how to help their child stay organized, focused and on time.
Preparing for life after school
The beauty of OneNote and Content Library is that they both help teachers organize their entire curriculum and make it easy for students and parents to access classroom materials. For students, it helps them learn how to organize their materials, collaborate with other students and makes it easier for parents to support their children in school. But the hidden benefit is that students develop their organizational skills which will help them become more productive and successful as they enter the workforce.