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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wise words on time management from student planning wikis - 9th grade



I have a few more pages from my student planning wiki! Take a look at their synopsis of the material. They've done an excellent job.

The keys to planning
Everyone needs a system for daily planning. This is one of the most essential things I teach students. I've seen students have a 10 point jump in their average just by carrying a small lined notebook in their back pocket and writing it all down.

I show them the importance of writing things down by the numbers illustration.
  1. First I ask them to get out a blank piece of paper and a pen.
  2. I ask them to close their eyes.
  3. I call out three numbers: 3 5 9
  4. I ask them to write them down correctly.
  5. I call out the numbers and ask for a show of hands from how many got them all right.
  6. I repeat. Usually I go to 5 numbers, 7 numbers, 9 numbers, and then 12 numbers.
The last set of numbers meet with many snickers and people who just give up. I explain to them that the reason they start off doing fine is that they only have a few things to remember. Some of them "melt down" at the end of the 8 weeks or semester and "mess up" their average for the whole semester. This is because once you try to remember over 7 or 8 things you cannot and you forget most if not all of them. (Thanks to Darren Kuropatwa who pointed out a cool online activity that demonstrates this.)

I call this the phenomenon of the "empty backpack during finals." These are the students with no system. They have too much to do so they've forgotten they have anything due. This is phenomenon is backed up by memory researchers. (Thank you again Darren.)

After this illustration, students are very open to learning a system of writing things down. The system you use doesn't matter, just that you have a system.

Planning your Goals
- Also in my readings, I have come across information that says that ninth grade is the first point where students can set long term goals.

The first day of class each year I give an assignment to my ninth grade. What does it take to become an honor graduate?

The next day I have them write it down for me. We discuss it. So many students would do a little extra to reach that goal if they are coming up a little short. Students need to be educated on what to shoot for -- that is when awards become motivational. If you don't tell them, they don't know and it becomes frustrating!

At the conclusion of the planning process, I make time to take my students outside. I have them spread out. I ask them to think about what they want to do and achieve in high school. I ask them to think about what they want to do differently. I ask them to spend some time setting their goals. This becomes the blueprint for most of them. I have seniors come to me with their wrinkled, dog eared list to show me how they 've done.

This sets a measure of success for them to use the rest of their lives.

Techniques of Daily Planning -
The two most important techniques here are:
  1. Having a time of planning and solitude daily. Even if is just the "Mary Kay Ash" practice of listing the five most important things you have to do tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, you look at the list and start! (You look at your daily record of events during this time and put them in the appropriate places.)
  2. Having a daily record of events. This is capture! You must capture all of the things that you commit to do or need to do during the day. You should also capture commitments others have made to you. (This practice of mine saved me in several difficult employee situations when I was in the business world.)
Controlling procrastination
This comes back to the saying "If you know why you do what you do, you can do something to change it." I point out that I had to learn I was eating for emotional reasons -- not hunger before I could lose 30 pounds. (This past year!)

We procrastinate things that are unpleasant, complex, lengthy, or uninteresting regardless of the priority.

We then discussed how to overcome procrastination. Visualization. Breaking things down.

Knowing your Values - I pointed this out in my last blog.

Students need to know that the values inside them are worth living their lives for. If they have nothing they'd die for, they have nothing to live for. Life has meaning and a purpose and each person has a purpose that they've been creative for. God makes A people -- he never makes an F person. We all have a plan and a purpose only we can do. What we do with our lives is determined by the choices we make! Kids need to hear it!

I've enjoyed these few weeks. I enjoyed the wikis they have created that will serve a reminder to them (and me) as we move forward. There is a permanent tool for them to review this important information.

We begin Access tomorrow. Oh, the joy!
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