A couple of weeks ago Smarty brought home her first book report assignment. The second graders were asked to choose a silly story to read, find 5 objects or draw 5 pictures to represent this book, to write a short explanation of why they chose these objects and then put everything in a decorated lunch bag and return to school on a due date. They were given about 3 weeks to do this project. We brainstormed together, and Smarty said that she wants to do a project on Bravo, Amelia Bedelia (Amazon affiliate link). We went to the library and got the book. Then the progress stopped despite my mild reminders about book report due now 2 weeks from now.
One night I sat Smarty down and told her that I will show her how I manage complex projects at work. I explained to her that I have a big board at work called a task board, and there are a lot of post-it notes on the board representing tasks. Task can be only in one place on the board – “to do”, “work in progress” (WIP) and “done”. One person is expected to work on one task at a time and complete it before proceeding to the next task. I suggested that we try a similar approach with her book report. She was not thrilled at first and told me that a book report has just one task – to write it. I helped her by writing initial tasks on notes:
- 1. Pick a book
- 2. Read a book
- 3. Decide on objects
The light dawned then, and she reluctantly added more tasks – find objects or make them, write the text about objects, decorate the bag, write her name on it. Once these tasks were on the board, she was able to knock them out mostly independently (she wanted me to help her find a couple of images online and print them), and she was very proud to be able to move items from WIP to “done”. Something that seemed like a big “blob of work” was done in two sittings, about 30 minutes each, and completed way ahead of schedule. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of her completed book bag, but she had every right to be proud of her work – it was not pulled together in the last minute, and I am hoping that she will apply the same trick to her next project on her own or with minimal help.
Your turn: If you have older learners in the house, how do you help them learn organizational skills? Please share your tricks in the comments.