Family Resources on Organizing: Design the System

Project and Purpose

Staying organized is a useful life skill, students will design their own system for organizing daily tasks.

Essential Questions

Why is it important to be and stay organized and how do we do it?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed various concepts for creating an organizational system that will help them be successful in high school. In class students discussed three different journal articles about how to organize for school successfully. Individually or in pairs students used the three articles as a starting point for creating an original presentation of a plan for organization.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Many high school students are overwhelmed with the workload expected of them in high school. Poor grades may have little to do with ability, instead many students do not perform well because of poor organization. Learning to be organized and developing a system that works for every student is an essential skill leading to success in high school and beyond.

Conversation notes:
For more information about the authors of articles used in this lesson please see:
Sue Kay who has written several articles at the website Verywell Family (including the one that students read in class):

And Susan Kruger who has written several books on study skills to find out more see her author page on Amazon:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.

Share your presentation with us. Why do you think your plan would be successful?

Do you think people who are organized are successful? Why or why not?

Is there one organizational system that works for everyone? Why or why not?

Develop an organizational system for school in writing. Every week discuss if it is working. Are grades improving? Is school less stressful? Make adjustments as necessary

School to Home Resources on Organizing: Design the System


1. Five signs/pieces of paper, one with each rating:

  • 5-Extremely Organized
  • 4-Very Organized
  • 3-Generally Organized
  • 2-Sort of Organized
  • 1-Not Organized AT ALL

2. Articles:

  • “Organization as the Key to Academic Success” by Christopher Ford
  • “6 Ways to Help Your High School Student Get Organized” by Sue Kay
  • “Tips to Help Students Organize Their Papers” by Susan Kruger, M.Ed.


1. Post the five ratings around the room and tell students that you will read a statement and they are to stand under/near the sign that best describes their response.

2. Read the following statements and ask students to move to the rating and to think about the evidence they could provide immediately to support their choice.

  • a. This sign describes the organization level of my school papers.
  • b. This sign describes the organization level of my locker.
  • c. This sign describes the organization level of my backpack.
  • d. This sign describes the organization level of my study area.
  • e. This statement describes me in general.

3. Ask students to discuss any one of the statements and their responses with one person who is in close physical proximity.

4. Ask students to turn to that same discussion partner again and talk about the best advice/structure/tip they have ever received or learned for keeping organized. When did they learn it? What does it require of them? What are the steps they need to take? How often do they follow this practice? If they continue this practice today, why? If they do not continue this practice today, why not?

5. Gather back as a group and assure them you will not seek evidence of their self-ratings—yet. Today’s session is about designing organizational structures and systems for high school students. Explain that you have the task of grading them on their organization at points during the school year, and their input as to how to do that best will determine how and when this will happen.

6. Explain that for this project, students may work alone or in pairs.

7. They will design and present an organizational plan that you, as their teacher, will be able to implement in this class. The plan must include the following:

  • a. The task: what is to be organized?
  • b. The timeframe: How often and when will you check on the organizational task?
  • c. Example of excellence: what does a model example look like?
  • d. A rating system or rubric: using a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being “Extremely Organized” and 1 being “Not Organized AT ALL;” write a statement that clearly defines each rating.

8. To support their plan, they will read three short articles about advice for helping high school students keep organized, one written by a student for other students, one written by a parent for other parents, and one written by a study skills expert to parents. In addition to the articles provided, students may use whatever technology is available to research as well as prepare their presentations. Students may use visual representations (photographs, diagrams, etc.), music (jingles, raps, etc.), poetry, or other supports in their presentation.

9. When their plans are ready, students will present their plans.


When all plans have been presented, work with the group to determine how you will use their plans to help them remain organized throughout your time in the class.

End with a discussion of why it is important to stay organized

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