Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teaching Students how to Organize {Freebie! and Giveaway!}

Upper elementary aged students NEED to be organized.  They have so much on their plates, what with the number of assessments, projects, and deadlines they need to complete in a school year.  Some of our students are naturally able to handle multiple assignments and demands at a time.  These are the students that dutifully copy the homework, word for word, from the board without reminder and probably without need.  These are the students that don't really need to look at their homework logs to know what needs to be accomplished each night.  And these are the students that remember those little reminders we blurt out that we ourselves often forget!  And then there are those other students.  The ones with the disastrous desks.  With rumpled, stained (ugh!) homework.  With missing folders and half eaten pencils.  These students need organization in their lives.  They need some system for keeping all of their responsibilities straight.  And they desperately need this help before they head off to junior high school!

Last year, I had a simple homework log that I used for all of my students.  It was mostly successful, so long as I remembered to make my photocopies before Monday morning.  All the students needed to do was copy the homework into their log under the correct day.  Simple.  Every Monday, they'd receive a new log and throw out the old.  Great.  Except for long term assignments.  Or deadlines that might fall on the next week.  I did include a "special reminders" box, but I still noticed some students having no concept of time and how close next Tuesday really is! So for those students, I started working on a student planner.

Truthfully, I was also inspired by the Erin Condren planner that just shipped today (exciting!).  My instragram is filled with teachers loving all over their new organizational pieces for the school year, and I thought it would be great for my students to have something similar to begin the school year.

I started out by creating calendars:

These two page calendars will be great for students who need a visual reminder about time management.  Also, the boxes are big enough for students to copy a few lines of homework assignments, as long as their handwriting is reasonable!

Then I created one page calendars for students who might still need a traditional homework log:

All of the pages are available in color and in grayscale.

Generic, I know.  But will get the job done if you have students who need more space to write or need to have their homework copying monitored daily.

From the calendars and the log, the planner started to grow.  I thought about other areas in which I want my students to be more responsible.  A huge focus in my school is on having students monitor their progress and self assess.  So I created some easy to use data collection sheets:
Students can slip this into a page protector or keep in their binders/folders.

I also want them to track the number of books they've read.  Our school sets a goal of 25, and I know many bloggers who participate in Donalyn Miller's 40 book challenge. This is a simple sheet to keep students on target.  (Also, RL5.10 CCSS is "By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.")

Of course goal setting is also super important, so I made two goal setting sheets.  The first one allows space for students to list three goals. The second allows room for an action plan and perhaps a deadline down at the bottom. 

And a few additional forms for kids to keep track of birthdays, long term deadlines and events and a weekly reflection.

 After taking filling this "Important Dates" page in, I realized it should begin at the beginning of the school year rather than the calendar year.  The file has two versions: one beginning in August and one beginning in September.  Of course, both versions are in color and in grayscale.

That's my three year old!  She won't need this binder for many years!

I think you can see from these pictures that it isn't just for those kids that really struggle with organization.  I had more than a few girls last school year that would really swoon over a little binder or folder filled with these sheets!

You can take a look at the listing on TpT: HERE (It's on sale for the next week!)

And you can grab the goal sheet with action plan sheet HERE

So what started out as a quick calendar project ballooned into about 60 pages of color and 60 pages of grayscale forms!  Want one?  Leave me a comment below with one awesome organizational tip and your email address before 7pm on Friday August 22, 2014.  I'll choose two winners and email you the file :)


  1. That looks awesome! I have community pencils-so no one can ever say that they don't have a pencil! They just trade out their dull pencils for a sharp one-without interrupting the rest of the class. Only took me 5 years to figure it out :)

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  2. This is beautiful! Our district provides planners for our upper graders, but they still have trouble with them. I provide community supplies in addition to allowing kids to have their own supplies so that no one can say they're missing something or don't want to share their special _____ with someone else. My favorite organizational tip though is to start planning for next week early in the week and gather the copies a little later. So...done planning by Wed at the latest, all copies/materials ready to go by Thursday, free to go home early on Friday! :)

  3. We do 60 second cleanup at the end of each major transition (before lunch, before dismissal) and after the first few weeks of monitoring to be sure everyone knows what to do, I start using that time to file things. Papers are the biggest issue for me, and I have found that taking two minutes during the day keeps the paper monster at bay

  4. Oops--still learning to follow directions in our first week of school over here. ;) Paige.e.thompson at