A tenth grade high school student came to see me yesterday because he was having trouble getting his homework finished and handing it in. Something I see all the time. So, I asked him what system he used for writing assignments down and keeping track of his papers. He said that he uses his memory for assignments and puts all paper in folders or just in his backpack. Also, something that I hear all the time. Well, I had my job cut out for me.
I introduced three alternatives for writing his assignments down:
- Use a planner; that was immediately rejected.
- Use the calendar on the computer; again rejected. He said that he likes to write work on his hand, so he always has it with him. Now, some of you might think that this is silly, but I agreed to let him try this because he will have a clear listing of his work and he came up with the idea.
- Use a standard monthly calendar; he reported itis too annoying.. But, we agreed that he will use a small, not an 8×11, size monthly calendar to list long-term projects. This is not your standard way of listing work, but if it works for this student, then it will be extremely effective!!
Next, we tackled the issue of papers. Many students in high school don’t like carrying binders, that’s ok, as long as they choose something else. Because this student has trouble keeping track of papers, I suggested using spiral notebooks that have at least one pocket folder for any handouts. I even like using a spiral graphing notebook for math. He agreed to use one for math and one for history. He didn’t think he needed any others because he doesn’t need to take notes in his other classes. I’m NOT so sure about this, like what happened to taking notes in a literature class, but I left it for the moment. The final agreement was spiral notebooks in the classes that require note-taking and folders for all the other classes.
We have made a start; it is not where I hope this student ends up, but at least he said he would try. That’s all I can ask for now because without compliance, I cannot teach any skills. He is supposed to email me tomorrow to let me know how the new systems are working. Let’s see if he does and we will see how he progresses.