Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Power Stations

One teacher wondered where in her classroom she would fit suitable sensory activities. They don't necessarily need a lot of space. Have you noticed the "power stations" popping up around the hallways? Look outside the OT/PT room for one example.

Tape a set of paper hands on a vertical surface for wall push ups. A student does 10 push ups against the wall to boost his/her attention and alertness level.

Here is a set of numbers for quick, explosive "power jumps." A student tries to jump and touch the highest number on the wall. This provides input to the muscles and joints, which in turn helps to organize a youngster before entering class.

No space required!

Remember, if you have an idea to share with the rest of us, please click on the comment below and let us know your pearls of wisdom!

Drowning in Piles or Keeping Afloat?

Now that we are striving for order, let's be realistic. Piles happen. After all, if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what is an empty desk a sign of?

Piles have their purpose and most people have a general system to seemingly unorganized mountains of paper on their desk. These are the "active" projects, not yet ready to "sleep" in file drawers. Visit the design your life blog to read the post on Piles: Everyone Gets Them.

I especially like Mike Essl's idea in the comment section. He uses clear pockets (called Job Ticket Holders available at Kinkos). If you are not ready to condemn paper or projects to the file drawer, place all related paper in a clear pocket. They are accessible on your desk as a distinct pile, ready to receive your attention. It may be the difference between drowning or keeping afloat!

Organize with Color

Color coding can make filing twice as fast. The eye recognizes color faster than it reads text. (Think about it: traffic signals use red-yellow-green lights, not signs marked “stop” “slow” and “go”).

Staples sells a set of transparent colored folders, ideal for sticking in that report you don't want to misplace in your bag or your homework you don't want to lose in your backpack.

Do you notice the comment area below? Click and share organizational ideas that have improved your productivity or have helped your students be on top of their game.

Mel Minute - Be an Organization Ally

Mel Levine, M.D. is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is also the co-founder of All Kinds of Minds, a non-profit Institute for the study of differences in learning, with financier Charles R. Schwab. Dr. Levine has established a framework for understanding why children struggle in school. He provides a system for recognizing variations in the way children learn and uses their strengths to help them become more successful students.
Watch Dr. Mel Levine speak about being an organizational ally for a child. Visit his website, All Kinds Of Minds, to read more about Getting Organized and Good Work Habits.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cool School Tool - Spatial Order Idea

Do you want to limit distractions while maintaining order on your desktop? Craft a desktop easel. We make ours from copy paper boxes...the folds are in the right places! If you have a sheet to study or copy, clip it to your easel. It also folds flat for easy storing. Try it, you might like it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Voices from the Students

Do you ever wonder what kids would do if they ran the school? Well, here is one fifth grader's idea:
Me as Principal

What would I do if I were principal of Hosmer School? To begin with, I would be nice to the kids. I would give them what they need. Also, I would make a shorter school day. It would be three hours long. Finally, there would be more science and more experiments. For example, I would show them experiments on electricity. It would be good for kids if I were principal of Hosmer School.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Organizing is Here to Stay!

January is Go Get Organized Month. Getting organized is a lot easier than staying organized. A key element is scheduling time in the day to maintain the order you have achieved. Students need time throughout the day to file papers as they go. Walking them through the steps is essential sometimes. Be sure to keep an eye on those students who go for the shove method! It is also helpful to have a once weekly desk clean-out to clear the unwanted litter.

Even with this structure, some students struggle with the spatial order of materials. The less materials to manage in a desk, the better. In these cases, you can add a seat sack to the back of the chair to keep essential items (agenda notebooks, homework folders).

Look for upcoming examples of adaptations for spatial order!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thinking On Your Feet

There are some students who just cannot contain their bodies sitting in a chair. Their attention suffers as they writhe and wiggle through lessons. In response, try to provide standing stations in the classroom. Find a counter or table high enough to accommodate the standing student. You can add a slanted desktop or large three ring binder as a surface. It is amazing to see the effect this has on their performance!

The idea of standing to work is popping up all over. The European work community offers this option to its workers by providing sit-to-stand desks (changing levels with a touch of a button).

The company Levenger offers sit-to-stand products in its current catalog. These include podiums, laptop lifters and desk risers. Adjustable desks are available at Relax The Back stores.

James Levine, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, has developed a classroom of the future. What is missing from this classroom? Chairs! Conventional desks are swapped for standing desks which are similar to small adjustable podiums. The sitting is replaced by movement. The students stand, kneel or sit on exercise balls to work.

Breaking tradition has happened before. Do you remember the old desks with attached chairs? Instead of cup holders, they were equipped with inkwells. Change is possible! Having standing options in the classroom is a step forward, providing each student what he/she needs to be successful.

By the way, I am told that Winston Churchill preferred to work standing up.