Teaching Students to Prioritize

One thing many middle school students struggle with is filling out their agendas and getting work  completed on time. 

Some patterns I’ve  noted (and would like to correct before my 8th graders leave for the high school):

  • Writing “none” or “done” or “math” in each of box on the agenda with no specifics on the assignment. (“What page do we have for math again?”)
  • Saving 7th period homework for 6th period study hall. (Rarely do we get quality work there). 
  • Working on a project that is due in two weeks instead of studying for the quiz that is tomorrow. 
  • Coloring a diagram or writing out notecards instead of annotating the next chapter while I play it on CD. 
  • Looking busy but actually accomplishing nothing. 

There are many reasons for the above behaviors, but I decided to focus on one solution. 

During the third nine weeks, my study hall students came in every day, picked up a dry erase board and marker, and took the first five minutes to write out their To Do lists on dry erase boards.

My student teacher and I were then able to walk around and help them prioritize their tasks if necessary.

The prompt they see on the board: 


Now that it’s the 4th nine weeks, we have shifted into writing a prioritized list at the bottom of each day in our student agendas. 

Of course, there’s always that one kid who doesn’t buy into the To Do list concept, but is willing to appease and amuse me:

How do you help your students get organized?

Is there a method that works best for your students? 

How can I make this better? 

Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you! 

2 responses

  1. I worked with middle school students too, and love what you are doing to help with the age-old organization and prioritization quandary! I also appreciate that you have a sense of humor and share it with your students.

    1. Having a sense of humor is what keeps me sane!

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