Let’s take a quick ride in the Way Back Machine to last week’s blog entry…. I wrote all about how I was trying to teach my students the value and benefit in effectively managing their time. I detailed how I had the students create and maintain a Daily Work Schedule to keep themselves on track for a lengthy project we worked on in Social Studies class. I explained how I was hopeful that this little activity would help my students. Now, let’s return to present day…
It’s a bright, sunny, and warm Memorial Day, as I sit and ponder the events from this past week. My amazing fifth grade class completed their Social Studies project on the Silk Road and finished their Book Reviews in Language Arts class. It was a banner week filled with much hard work. But what about the Time Management activity, you ask. How did that go? Well, I am happy to report that this activity totally helped teach my students the benefit of managing their time in relevant and meaningful ways.
At the start of each Social Studies class, I had the students review and update their Daily Work Schedule. Did they finish what they had set out to accomplish for homework the evening before? Do they need to make any changes to today’s plan? Then, they got right to work. During almost every work period, ALL of my students diligently worked on meeting their goals and finishing the work they set out to do. It was quite remarkable. This Daily Work Schedule seemed to really motivate my students to work more effectively than ever before. How did this happen though? What about the Daily Work Schedule helped motivate them to work harder than ever before? Was it the fact that they had generated this daily schedule and so ownership was higher? Did that help make them want to work more effectively? Or was it something else entirely? Have my students simply figured out how to be great students? Or, were they transformed into robots while I left the classroom to print a document? Interesting thoughts. While it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what was at play during the project, having the Daily Work Schedule did seem to really help my students. It seems that they really do see the benefit in breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.
And talk about the quality of their work. Wow! They really stepped it up in this area for this final project. They went above and beyond. Students sought me out for feedback on their work multiple times before turning it in to be graded. I was amazed. For the previous project, students waited until the day it was due to seek feedback from me on their work, and by then it was too late. This time, they demonstrated that they had learned from their mistakes. Students also wanted to make their work look really impressive. As the students were creating a journal imagining themselves as travelers on a caravan during the time of the Silk Road, they wanted their final product to look authentic. So, they made tea that they then used to make the pages of their journal look old and worn. They also crumpled their pages and burned the edges to bring authenticity to their finished journals. It was so cool for me to observe my students pushing themselves to create their best possible work. They held the bar for themselves very high. Because they had managed their time effectively using the Daily Work Schedule, they had time to jazz up their work. I was so proud of how they persevered through the struggles faced in the previous mapping project to complete quality work for this final project. Again, I say, failure is so crucial in the learning process. Because some of my students had failed to effectively manage their time well to complete a quality tri-layered map that met the graded objective, they were able to learn from their mistakes and try again.
At the close of the project, I had the students provide me with feedback on the entire Social Studies unit. In one question, I had them consider the usefulness of the Daily Work Schedule, and here is what they had to say about that:
- “It helped a lot.”
- “The schedule helped me budget my time.”
- “Because it helped me to see what I needed to do.”
- “It helped because I knew how long I had to do something and it also helped me so that I was on task.”
- “It helped to keep me on track and know what I should be doing.”
- “It helped because I new exactly what I had to do every day instead of trying to plan the day of. I had something to look at.”
Clearly, my students saw the benefit in having a plan for how to best utilize their time to accomplish a task or goal. Mission accomplished.
As the end of our school year is closer than I would like to admit, I do feel confident that my students are prepared for the rigors of sixth grade. They have the skills needed to be successful in completing quality work in a timely manner. They know how to overcome obstacles. They have the problem solving skills needed to tackle any challenge thrown their way. They know how to think critically and analyze the world around them. As much as it pains me to start saying my goodbyes to my wonderfully talented, kind, and caring fifth graders, I know that it is time. They are ready to move on, like young birds. They are no longer baby birds in need of me chewing up their food and regurgitating for them to consume. Oh know, they can now eat food on their own without my help. I’m so proud of how far they’ve come. Fly little birdies, fly.