"I was going through my son’s binder for freshman year and saw that several of his teachers use your system. I am very drawn to it and would totally teach it if I were in front of kids. Kudos. It makes this so clear, so that learning can happen vs. just chaotic lack of organization of basic stuff."
Glenn Kenyon - San Francisco State University
In the Fall of 2018 two professors wrote letters to their college's Senior Leadership Team endorsing Organized Binder. Their full letters are attached. Here are two excerpts from their letters:
The biggest benefit to students, however, is that they learn how to be a good student. I cannot over-emphasize this point. Many of our students are first generation college students, and they do not know the importance of organization to their success. They learn that through the Organized Binder platform. Could they do this with a binder of their own? Yes. Would they? Most would not. My experience says that the ones who most need this knowledge would not get organized without Organized Binder.
D. Guy Stimers, Professor of English, Sacramento City College
I have been using Organized Binder for three semesters now. At first, I only used the binders as an organizational tool. Organized Binders played a key role in eliminating a textbook students had to purchase and replacing it with relevant and engaging articles, speeches, and other readings. Students needed a way to find the assigned articles and keep their materials in order. The daily recording of upcoming due dates is another good habit this system engenders.
Organized Binder also contributes to my classroom community. Everyone has the same binder so it is an equalizer of sorts. Several students expressed that receiving a free binder made them feel cared about.
Rachel Spangler, Professor of Language and Literature, Sacramento City College
Mitch and Justin discuss how Organized Binder is a powerful RTI2 Tier 1 Universal Level resource for classroom teachers who want to increase executive functioning and develop the noncognitive skills that are the hallmarks of successful learners. They also discuss how Organized Binder is in directly alignment with UDL (Universal Design for Learning) and helps establish Least Restrictive Environments (LRE's).
You can read his interview here or by following the link below.
As mentioned in a previous post our collaboration with Sacramento City College continues to grow and expand. Some of those implementing Organized Binder are English instructors in the college's English Composition Accelerated Program in response to AB 705. Students who did not qualify for English 300 (College Composition) take a concurrent support course called English 108. At the Second Annual Acceleration Across California conference it was noted that co-requisite courses, like those offered at Sacramento City College, have proven successful. We agree!
Here are student reflections on Organized Binder in the Fall 2017 108/300 Acceleration Project shared by professor Dr. Travis Silcox:
Student #1: Since there were two classes’ agendas to keep track of, it was nice to get organizational lessons. The way we organized the binders in class was awesome because I could reference any piece of work or information from the class. Without this help it’s likely that I would have shoved things into a binder in no particular order. Having an organized binder helped me keep track of my grades, as well as my goals for the semester. I will definitely be putting these new skills to use for the rest of my life.
Student #2: With me gaining comfortability in the class, I was able to be vulnerable with my goals. The goal page was something we would revisit every 4 weeks, with goals being made daily, weekly, and in the 4 weeks. This was very important for me as, I had a goal on paper, in my binder that I have to look at every time I do one bit of work for this class. Goals are important to me as it is one way I can keep myself accountable, and until the organized binder I never had one for school. Some of my goals included, reading Devils Highway daily, no homework missing for 4 weeks, and make sure I write a journal entry weekly. I can easily attribute these things for improving my grammar, writing and work ethic.
Student #3: The Organized Binder helped me in ways that on the first day of class I was unsure and skeptic of, little did I know it was going to be the one thing that kept me organized and sane. We set our personal goals and everyday we made a kick off and learning log entry, along with our agenda, homework and reminder entries, not only was it for self evaluation and reminder it was for storage too ! In this same file we stored our notes and handouts, this made life so easy especially for me and I know I will be using this same binder in the future for referencing.
Student #4: An additional way ENGWR 108 promoted an easier workload in ENGWR 300 results from the daily usage of organized binder pages in class. Throughout the semester the professor had students complete a page in our binders labeled as “My Goal in ENGWR 108”. Every four weeks, the professor had students set a goal that they wanted to achieve. This gave students an objective and gave a sense of responsibility to the students to achieve it. If they succeeded, students can see they are able to accomplish anything that gives them hope to do well in the course. Another section in our binders was a section called B pages. This section consisted of a question asked by the professor and in response would be an honest answer. This allowed for the professor and students to communicate in a nonverbal form. Also, this let the professor to express her honest opinion and understand how the student is progressing. If the professor knows of an issue in the B pages she was very willing to help and accommodate to the students’ needs and overall the class needs. This gave the chance for the professor to adjust and redo lesson plans if needed to accommodate to the entire class to ensure success.
Student #5: The binders that the teacher gave us had organized papers such as: goal setting sheets, B pages, Learning logs / Kick offs, among other things that helped us to stay organized throughout the semester. The kick offs and learning logs, which are basically warm-ups, helped us a lot as well, since in them we could ask the teacher questions about some work that we had to do or that we were in the process of doing it. Like if we were embarrassed to ask those questions in person. The learning log / kick off that we did once in this class says the following: "How far have you advanced in your Research Paper?" That time when the professor asked this question, I was hypnotized, since I didn’t know what to answer, because I was barely looking for the articles to read, while other students were ahead of me already finishing their rough draft. I did not know what to answer, however I told the professor how advanced I was in my research paper although I did not know what she would say to me. That learning log / kick off made me realize that I really had to make more enthusiasm and be on topic of everything we did so as not to delay and be at the same pace as the other students.
Student #6: In ENGWR 108, we had binders where it would carry all our paperwork and additional pages. Those additional pages were pages called “ B Page” and “Goals Page.” On the “B Page” was a page where we would write a “Kick-Off” and a “Learning Log.” The “Kick-Off was really helpful because it started the class with something engaging. This would be the time where we would really have to use our brain and a sense of what today’s class lesson may be. It was a great way to start off the class. With the “Learning Log” this was a time to reflect on today’s lesson. This would be where we write what we learned or what we still have trouble with. This was handy because it was a great way to communicate with the teacher. At times it was a bit confusing with the binder but the way we organized it, made it a lot simpler. Overall the binder was something very helpful and big in the class.
Student #7: Another helpful thing in the 108 class was the organized binder. The responses in the B page section helped me keep in mind what I had to do. Those responses usually ruminated in my head and reminded what needed to be done in my English class. Also the toolkit provided many useful outlines and the guides. This toolkit helped me whenever I had trouble organizing my thoughts for my future essays. My binder pages helped me organize my work and helped me keep good management throughout the semester.
Student #8: The goals page and B pages had me thinking about my learning process on a weekly and even on a daily basis. These pages have kept “in check” through out the semester. In my goals page, I really wanted to have strong time management because I went to SCC full time and worked twenty five hours a week. The goals page has made me realize that I wasn’t putting enough hours into my education. The B pages were my favorite because I had a chance to let the instructor know how I felt about an assignment and really think about my questions. The prompt I really liked was from week 6,” What is your time management plan to finish this essay?” I would think about a list in order to be prepared for the assignment. Our kick-offs would prepare us for the class time and the learning-logs were our reflections.
From Daniel Evan Bauer: "In today's #podcast with Mitch Weathers, we discuss increasing parent engagement, viewing students by their strengths, and why he started Organized Binder." They also discuss how Organized Binder gives students daily exposure to goal setting, reflective learning, time and task management, study strategies, organizational skills, and more.
You can read the interview here or by following the link below:
As our ongoing Sacramento City College collaboration continues to grow and expand, a number of English instructors implemented Organized Binder in the college's Accelerated Program. The acceleration model is in response to AB 705 mandating that Community Colleges "maximize the probability that the student will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in English and mathematics within a one-year timeframe." This initiative supports students who did not qualify for transfer-level English Composition with an additional concurrent course, English 108. At the Second Annual Acceleration Across California conference it was noted that co-requisite courses, like those offered at Sacramento City College, have proven successful. We could not agree more!
Here are student reflections on Organized Binder in theSacramento City College - Spring 2017108/300 Acceleration Project:
"The first sheet in my binder is the gold goals sheet and even though some people might not find this sheet important I did. This sheet reminded me of how focused and determined I was when I first stated ENGWR 108. It also reminded me whatever was thrown at me I should definitely stay focused. I really like the organized binder it really helped me to stay on track. The binder has B pages that really give you a chance to personally communicate with your professor. I used my B pages a lot of times to ask questions for things that I needed help with or if I am stuck on an assignment. Also, really nice about the B pages is that every day there was a class prompt. This is a question that kind of sums up what the lecture will be about sometimes. In the binder is a daily agenda that lets you know what will be going on in class. If you miss a day you would be very lost."
"The Organized Binders I must say were a blessing. They helped me stay organized as the name states; however, the goal page in particular affected me more than I thought it would. I felt that goal setting at different periods throughout the semester was cliché. At the end of the day when all I wanted to do was sleep and put my work off for later, I would think of the daily task I put on my goal sheet. That task for me was doing some homework before bed and that was exactly what I did. I still wonder why writing that down made me do it, but I look at it as a promise. I wrote in pen on that page; therefore, it was set in stone, so I had to do my homework before bed. It definitely helped me stay on track with what was going on in class and I am thankful for it."
"The course binder was a shocker, totally unexpected. It was made of cardboard so I was concerned it would not make it through the semester; however, it did just fine. The binder was very thorough. It had everything: Instructions on how to utilize the binder, setting goals, calendar, and so much more. The binder will go on my bookshelf for use as I need it later in my college and professional career as there are handouts and exercises. The binder is now far too valuable to discard."
"Having the Organized Binder helped me tremendously. The binder helped me organize my assignments and papers, keep me on track by showing me what we were doing and what was coming in the future. The OB told us our homework and when it was due. It also had a goals section so that we could set goals and keep us on track to achieve them. Having a binder given to me helped me keep track of everything. Instead of stuffing my papers into my backpack I had a place to put them. I think that we should be given a binder for ENGWR 108 as well as one of 300. I believe that the OB is so helpful that everyone should have them for every subject, not just English class."
"The 108 English writing course organized binders were helpful with keeping me updated with the work we do in the 300 class. The binders also helped with understanding what we were doing in class and was helpful with keeping me updated with my planner. When we set our goals in the goal section of the binder it helped me stay on top of my work and gave me motivation to do what my goal was."
The Bridge to the Future conference, which focuses on Transition and Workability, took place in San Diego, CA last week. Over the years we have presented Organized Binder at conferences around the country. The attendees at this conference were some of the kindest, most focused, and passionate educators we have met. Their heart for struggling, under-skilled, and students with disabilities is unmatched. It was an honor to be in attendance.
This was Organized Binder's first conference hosting a table. To be honest I had some reservations about being associated with the "vendor" area of a conference. (We all know this is an area us teachers tend to avoid like the plague!) However, we are so glad we did. The response of constant visitors was humbling and overwhelming! We were totally cleaned out of packets, cards, and handouts in 4 hours (there were 6 hours to go). A sincere thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello and learn more about the Organized Binder. Thanks also to everyone who attended our workshop and apologies to the many who were turned away because the room was over-capacity.
If you missed the workshop in San Diego click here to RSVP for our upcoming Introductory Webinar Wednesday, January 18, 2016.
"This year, I decided that I was going to fully commit to Organized Binder. From day one, I stressed the importance of the binder and I told students over and over again the expectations I had for their binders. Students took it pretty seriously but I could tell their binders weren’t going to pass the test during the first binder check. Sure enough, when I did the first binder check, almost none of the students passed. I was nervous about how they would react, but I wanted to reinforce that I had high expectations for them and not change the set up.
For the next week, my classroom was flooded with students during lunch and after school getting their binders in order. What shocked me was that it wasn’t all of the high achievers who were trying to make sure they didn’t lose points. It was also the students who don’t hand in their homework very often and who previously were just shoving handouts in their bags. I told students to look at the class binder and at the binder checklist I had given them a week before to update their binders - I was not going to help them.
When students resubmitted their binders, I was shocked at the results. I had never seen students who were so organized. And again, what really thrilled me was the fact that it was a wide range of students who were succeeding.
Since that first binder check, I have noticed that students seem more committed to doing well in my class. It was almost as if Organized Binder made them commit a certain level of energy and effort to my class, and, once they had done that, their commitment carried over to other areas of the class. In particular, I am talking about students who weren’t successful in my class. I had one student with an F before the binder check who would barely look at me. I got the chance to talk with her while she spent time in my classroom getting her binder in order. Since then, she has been in my class six or seven times after school for extra help. She now has a B+.
The thing I love about Organized Binder is that it makes students accountable to staying organized and at the same time provides them with the support to be truly successful. For example, suddenly the disorganized student with ADD doesn’t have an excuse for not doing his homework. He doesn’t have to look for it or search through a pile of crushed papers. He knows right where it is and exactly what he needs to do. Suddenly doing his homework doesn’t seem so hard because the daunting task of finding his homework has been eliminated.
Also, one thing I’ve seen more clearly this year is how Organized Binder can actually change the way students think. After starting each day with a Kick-Off prompt, I would go over the Agenda after students had copied it down. When I collected the first few homework assignments, a huge number of students had absolutely no recollection that the homework had been assigned in the first place and would accuse me of not telling them. I would turn to their Agenda (Page C) in their binders and point out to them exactly when I had assigned the work and the due date. After these students got tired of getting 50% for late homework, I noticed that they started actually checking their Agendas and thinking about them. I started getting more questions when I went over the Agenda at the beginning of class. When students don’t know what their homework is or how to do something that was assigned, they know where to go in their binders to find out, and they actually do it. I’m literally watching them learn the thought processes that all truly successful students have.
I really want you to know how much the binder has changed my classroom. I seriously cannot thank you enough for sharing this system and supporting me.
Thanks again for everything!"
In May we were invited to present Organized Binder to educators at the Teacher Symposium for the School District of Philadelphia. The sessions went well, 100% of attendees surveyed plan to use the system in their classroom, of over 96% said the session was an effective use of their time.
Thanks to all the educators who attended the Organized Binder sessions, we are excited to collaborate throughout the 2016-2017 school year!