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 Ready for the Day
A Grade 5 pilot helps students strengthen organizational skills
14 FIS World June 2023
“My laptop is charged, 98%!” While Grade 5 students are entering the classroom and getting ready for their daily morning meeting, one of the students proudly compliments himself with a big smile and thumbs up. It may seem small, but for him it is an achievement to be
When students struggle with their school work, they do not necessarily need academic support. Often they need support in strengthening their organizational skills, which then makes it easier to focus on academics: tidy desk, tidy mind. It is an important part of self-management skills, which together with thinking, research, communication and social skills, form the five interrelated areas of the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) Approaches to Learning (AtLs).
Elementary School Counselor Natalie Stringer welcomed the idea to start an organizational skills pilot group earlier this year with seven Grade 5 students. She shared her experience with programs like these, helped with the preparations, and provided valuable advice: "Keep it small and simple. Don't work on too many things at once and take the time to build a good relationship to makesureitisapositiveexperienceforthem."The timing of the pilot coincided with the start of the Grade 5 Exhibition, so keeping it small was easier said than done. Where a long term project like Exhibition would normally be introduced later in the course of a program like this, we decided to
include the organization of students’ Exhibition work in their online and paper documents straight away. As normal routines returned following the Exhibition, we shifted our focus back to the weekly homework.
One of the earliest observations was that the program really needed to be a team effort. Since the students in the group were all from different homerooms, teachers needed to collaborate to ensure they were using the same systems, organization of online Google documents, notebooks, folders and zip bags, and homework expectations. The support they provided for the pilot was indispensable.
The students also contributed to the format of the program, including sharing feedback on the draft checklist before it was implemented. Where the focus originally was on a tidy backpack, the students explained that it made more sense to look at their desks and cubbies: are the notebooks in the right place, are there no other loose papers? In addition, we would check whether their Exhibition documents were up to date, whether their homework was handed in and whether the laptop was charged.
The students themselves composed a list of possible “rewards”, non-tangible, cost-free and all feasible in school, such as a visit to the Upper School Art room or playing games during one of the sessions. Based on the checklist, students

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