Disorganized Boys

The New York Times published an article by Alan Finder in January 2008 entitled, “Giving Disorganized Boys the Tools for Success.” The article addressed the educational achievement gap that is growing between boys and girls. These days it is girls who are having more success in school. The major premise of the article is that the lack of organizational skills may be holding boys back.

The article quotes Judith Kleinfeld, a psychology professor at the University of Alaska as saying, “The guys just don’t seem to develop the skills that involve organization as early.” The article then goes on to explain how certain $100 per hour tutors are getting these boys organized.

But before you go out and spend $100 per hour on an organization tutor, here are a few links to help you understand the organization of information, as well as how to get students organized:

1. The Six Traits of Writing – Organization and Ideas
2. How to Get Students Organized: The Student Notebook System
3. Pattern Based Writing: Quick & Easy Essay Homepage

While Pattern Based Writing: Quick & Easy Essay’s main goal is not to develop organizational skills, it does do just that. It develops organizational skills that can be used across the curriculum. Pattern Based Writing develops a way of thinking about how one organizes information.

Organizing Information

You may be aware of some of these common organization techniques that help with learning information:

• Previewing the structure of a chapter, section, book etc.
• Skimming and scanning to get an overview
• Reviewing the information
• Connecting the information to what came before and what will come next
• Creating outlines
• Creating timelines

With all of these, a main purpose is to help students understand how the information they are learning is organized. Understanding how the information is organized helps students retain the information. It helps create a filing system of sorts.

In a way, Pattern Based Writing reverses the process. Pattern Based Writing teaches the organization of information in order to use that organized information for a purpose. In a nutshell, because of what Pattern Based Writing achieves, the above strategies for learning information become much more effective. Students and teachers come to understand them in a more purposeful way. As such, all of the strategies above stop being busy work. Learning information and writing about that information become two sides of the same coin… finally!

The Organization of Information and Teaching Across the Curriculum

Much of what we teach (and of what we learn) deals with the organization of information. Have you ever thought about how much of the school day involves classifying and categorizing information? I’m sure it could be argued that at least half the day involves the organization of information. I will admit, we often don’t think of it as having to do with the organization of information; however, if one takes a closer look and thinks about it a little differently, they may be surprised.

In short, thinking about the organization of the information you are teaching, and then teaching that same information in an organized manner will improve student learning of that information.

Please don’t get me wrong, there is more to learning than the organization of information. In fact, a premium should be placed on the application of information for problem solving, as well as having the ability to make connections. Guess what? The organization of information helps in both of these areas. We organize information so that we can use that information. Organization brings control. Unorganized information is not easy to use. Unorganized information is a lot like trivia. It’s interesting, just not purposeful.

Pattern Based Writing: Quick & Easy Essay is a writing program, and as such it teaches students how to write well organized essays and reports quickly and easily. However, it is MUCH MORE than a writing program. It teaches students how to organize information using many breakthrough methods. Click Teaching Elementary and Middle School Writing to learn how!

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