Updated: Feb 15, 2021
Checklists, when well designed and intentionally implemented, are a simple and highly effective organizational tool. This is why I'm sharing the daily checklist I created so others can use or adapt it with students they are working with to stay organized.
As a learning specialist, I primarily work with middle schoolers aged 11 through 14 who manage assignments in multiple classes during the week, and the daily checklist has proven to be very helpful for students who struggle with working memory. This is especially helpful to those who benefit from having a clear structure for keeping track of daily assignments.
How do I use the daily checklist?
Prep (at the beginning of the week)
Print and staple or clip 5 copies of the checklist together at the start of the week.
Online Learning Tips
Help students find an accessible and clear (not cluttered) spot where the checklist can "live". This prevents the checklist from getting lost among other papers.
Remember to prioritize accessibility, as not all families have printers at home. When suggesting this tool to students and families during the pandemic, I always made sure the students had access to printed copies by giving them the option of picking up printed copies at school or receiving their copies by mail.
Allocate at least 15 minutes for the morning routine on the checklist. Set an alarm as a reminder for when to start.
During the school day, students should write down assignments using the cues in the table: subject, to do (study or finish an assignment), turn in process (in other words, how it needs to be submitted to the teacher), and the due date.
At the end of the school day, follow the cues listed at the bottom of the checklist and cross off the tasks that were finished in class. This helps students track what they completed and what they still need to do.
What I learned from using the daily checklist with students
Morning routines matter
For my students who struggled with the transition to online and hybrid learning environments, I suggested the following morning routines to create more structure and regularity in their schedule:
Communication is key
When introducing this tool to my middle school students, I set up a 1-1 appointment with them that capped at 15 minutes. In general, this was enough time for me to listen to my student's perspectives about what was and was not working with their organizational systems. We also used the time to collaboratively develop one organizational goal that the checklist could help with and talked about how they could use the daily checklist as an organizational tool.
Pitfalls to watch for
Don't abandon too early = I typically ask students to try new organization strategies for 2-3 weeks before switching to a new strategy to allow us to see patterns and give the student time to try it on different days of the week in different class rotations.
Don't force it = some students did not use the checklist very much and/or seemed resistant to using it after the 2-3 week trial period. When I noticed this happening, we had a "stop and reflect" meeting where we talked through what was working and not working. I came to these meetings prepared to offer different organization tools for the student to choose from and try next.
Download a copy of the Daily Checklist and let me know what you think!
Want more tools?
Over the next few weeks, I will be posting about the different planning tools that I have created or have found on the internet (that can be downloaded for free) and tested in the real-world with students who want to stay organized.
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