I am trying to teach my 9th and 7th grade students about organization. Sometimes the best example is the null example. So, when my students came into class, they were greeted with a giant mess. The desks were strewn all over the place, and there was paper all over the floor. The really great thing was that they were not expecting anything like this. I am really particular about how the desks are organized and they were blown away that the desks were strewn all about the room.

My tardy policy is that students must be in their seats when the tardy bell rings to be considered on time. So, with one minute left in the passing period, I let them into a room where their desks were strewn all over the place. Obviously, only one or two students were able to get in their seats in the right place. So, most students got a tardy. Later in class, I reorganized the desks how they should be and told them they could remove the tardies if they all were in their seats in less than a minute. They all did well with that, and nobody received a tardy. We talked aobut how it was easier to find your desk and be on time when the room is organized how it should be. They seemed to understand that well.

They needed to come up with five reasons why organization is important in writing. They mostly did well on that. One student had a really interesting idea: your writing should be organized to help save wildlife. He said that the wildlife is saved because when you are organized you don't waste as much paper restating what you already said, and your rewrites are more apprpriate and you don't need to rewrite as much. Although he was trying to be a smart-alleck, he did make a good point when he was pressured to continue developing that thought.

The reason the floor is so messy is because I passed out their papers by throwing them in the air. They could, if they wanted, get their papers from the floor and some of them tried, but it was very difficult to find them when they were not organized.

The lesson ended with them trying to organize themselves for getting into their seats within 30 seconds. Only one class made it in that short time. The others were not able to organize themselves at all. So, it appears that there are still struggles to overcome, but hopefully, it made an impression on at least some of them.


    On January 18, 2007 at 3:14 PM Some Random George said...

    Interesting, so who got to clean up this mess? You? How fun was that? Was it worth spending your whole prep period picking up all your stuff, just to get through to one STUDENT!?!? I hope so...I could never do this. I could never willingly make that mess. It would make me have a nervous breakdown.

    On January 18, 2007 at 3:15 PM One who's free speech is censored by MR JONES! said...

    Comment Nazi.

    That is so cool! I bet it was fun to throw papers all over. I have always wanted to do that. I bet cleaning it up wasn't so fun.