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.
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."
This email from an Organized Binder middle school teacher in Southern California made me chuckle. For our May 2016 Newsletter we asked indie Organized Binder teachers to send us a one-liner about the impact the system is having on their pedagogy and/or classroom.
The first line of her response read, "I will have to pull my brain together to give you something quotable, but.." and continued (I took the liberty of separating all of her "one-liners"):
"In order to be a successful student, one needs to see him/herself as a student first. I witness that happen through Organized Binder each day and with each new student who comes to camp." -Abbie Korman Stendahl
The school and students featured in the March 2016 Newsletter must remain anonymous for student privacy and security. What we can tell you is that this is a residential County and Community School and serves incarcerated youth. Teacher Abbie Korman Stendahl has sent us feedback on how Organized Binder has had an impact on her classroom and students.
Abbie Korman Stendahl is an English and history teacher in her sixth year teaching. Currently, she works with incarcerated youth in the Court and Community Schools in Northern California. Previously, Abbie worked for five years at an urban, Title 1, comprehensive high school where she taught AVID, Read180, CAHSEE Prep, and every grade level of English 9-12. She knows what it is like to have three preps every year, teach classes of 36, and to have 170 students on your caseload to get to know, connect with, and teach.
Now, in integrated classes of 9th-12th graders, her goal is to facilitate learning and a sense of empowerment through engaging, scaffolded, and organized curriculum for small class sizes of incarcerated boys. Ms. Korman’s English and history course content are aligned and allow students an in-depth, multidisciplinary lens through which to analyze literature and gain historical thinking skills. In the classroom, students use the Character Based Literacy (CBL) program developed at the Santa Clara University, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, tools from E3: Education, Excellence, Equity, and Organized Binder.
Most of my students self-identify as young men who were not successful as students before coming to court school. Many students admit that not only did they not have organized binders, but they “didn’t do homework and didn’t bring a backpack to school” either. At our court school, there are many of factors in place that allow students to focus on school in a way that was not a reality for them before, and a main one of those is Organized Binder.
My classes are made up of young men who live on-site at an honor camp and are monitored 24 hours a day. Students work each week in school and in their mandated after-school programs to earn their release. The transition to our school is a difficult one; for many, this is the first time they are required to do the work and homework expected of them. There is no truancy, there are few distractions, there is mandatory study hall in the evenings, and there are security guards in the room; students must try in school, or they will not be released.
While school is so important to students’ release, it is not something many students feel comfortable with or are ready for when they first arrive; their affective filters are high, they do not feel they have ready many tools with which to be successful, and it is more academic work than they are used to having to do. I believe Organized Binder is one of the main tools in the classroom which helps students transition and succeed.
I believe all students are uniquely intelligent and all are capable of success. Unfortunately, many of my students have a history of negative experiences in school where they have not felt that to be true. At camp, in my classroom, I believe it is my job to help my students see themselves as the students I know they can be. At camp, with clear routines each day, an organized binder, and a map of our day, week, and unit, students get the hang of school and know what is expected of them. The longer students are in my classroom using the Binder, the more and more academic they become. The youth begin to see themselves as students, and their mindsets change. I am losing track of hearing students say, ”you know, I don’t like school, but I actually kind of like school.” I think this contradiction comes from years of not succeeding in the classroom and finally feeling successful as a student at camp.
In a survey at the end of the unit, it is telling that 73% of my students reported being more organized now than they were “on the outs”, and the remaining 27% were almost all the students newest to our school. Because students attend our school as a court-ordered sentence, we have a constant flow students serving their six to nine months at different times throughout the school year. The Organized Binder is an anchor for students showing up at different times of the school year to our unit, but it can feel unfamiliar and unusual at first. For new students, Organized Binder allows them to look like everybody else, to jump right into our lessons, and to have all of the papers everyone has; it is easy to find the papers they need to be on task, and seated next to a peer who has been in class longer, they are able to catch on quite quickly.
In our class survey, students who have been at camp longer wrote about themselves that: they “take academics more serious [sic],” “I always do my homework”, “I actually learn a lot because I am organized”, “I do work, behave good [sic], show up to school, and learn”, “I am more open minded and learned to be successful in life I need school”, “I try here” ,“I get homework done. I am organized. I’m always on task”, “I do some of my work and its [sic] fun to learn.” While students are required to be in school each day and to complete homework each night, it does not have to mean that they actually learn or change their attitude toward school, but it is what happens at camp.
At camp, many students are able to finally see themselves as students, successful ones, who show up every day, know where every paper is, and are organized. Students say, the “organized binder helps because it makes it easier to access assignments” and “organize binders help me find my work easily.” When asked one way Ms. Korman’s class is different than other classes they have had, students report “very organized” and “i’ve been able to get my homework done more using the organized binder.”
This is similar to classes at the comprehensive high school I worked at - students remember and utilize our skills of organization on a daily basis, and it stands out to them. It empowers them. It is often the thing in my class that is reported as what they have learned most - not English or history standards that we, of course, are hitting each day. But that they have learned to be organized. I think this is because this is a tangible, measurable step for students to see their own growth. This is a clear first step toward success. In order to be a successful student, one needs to see him/herself as a student first. I witness that happen through Organized Binder each day and with each new student who comes to camp.
I have seen Organized Binder work in classes of 36 at a comprehensive high school, and I have seen it work in class sizes as small as four with incarcerated youth. It has worked in English class, AVID class, and history class, with ninth graders and twelfth graders, honors students and students achieving far below standards. No matter the curriculum and no matter the demographics of the students, I have always and will always use Organized Binder. It works, and it is transformative.
“What’s one thing you are proud of?”
“that im actually doing my work”
"I believe more schools should do the Organized Binder. it is very useful and will help kids become organized. It will also help kids do better in school."
"All schools should use Organized Binder because it helped me stay organized and helped me get ready for class everyday."
"Organized Binder helps my binder from being a complete mess of papers."
"I think that Organized Binder is really helpful."
Below are a few highlights from the survey. You can download the entire survey results from this Northern California County and Community School as a pdf by clicking the pdf icon below.
The school and students featured in our March 2016 Newsletter must remain anonymous for student privacy and security, therefore we will not name the students who wrote the following letters. What we can tell you is these students are incarcerated and living in a residential County and Community School.
Student 1: His teacher said this about him, "This is from an 11th grader reading at a 2nd grade reading level. He earned C's my first quarter with him, then a B the next quarter, and an A- the quarter that just ended. His scores are mediocre to below grade level on tests but he retakes them and does a really great job on homework, class work and organization."
Transcript: "I have success with an Organized Binder. An Organized Binder has helped me be more organized and access my assignments easier. I like keeping an Organized Binder because it keeps my self discipline and helps alot in school and in longrun. I dislike it sometimes because I have to organize it on the daily basis. It is different by everything is organized because I used to throw everything in my binder before my stay in Camp. It is helpful to keep it organized because I spend less time looking for papers. I like G's (Academic Toolkit pages) because it helps me when I have a hard time making an assignments. The Organized Binder affects me as student by having your grades on binder checks. I would recommend this to all youth because it makes it easier for your self in school."
Student 2: His teacher said this about him, "This student is a 10th grader who wanted to do well academically on "the outs" but did not have the strategies. Instead of nearly stacking his papers in his backpack, he has them neatly organized in his binder now. He admitted to never making goals before camp and now he is accomplishing the ones he sets for himself, including earning straight A's this past quarter. He was part of a culinary arts program in the morning for six weeks and Organized Binder helped him stay on track despite missing morning classes. Even today, he was out at the DMV in the morning and asked to come in during lunch for only a few minutes to get his B, C and H pages caught up, so he knew his homework for the weekend. The clear consistency of the binder allows this student, who was already motivated all on his own, know what to ask for and complete to be successful."
Transcript 1: "My goal this quarter is to keep good grades when I get out of camp. It is important for me because I want to be caught up for my junior year. I will accomplish it by doing every assignment I get in class to maintain my grade. In the past when I was "out" I did not have any goals. I barely started making goals when I got to camp. My goals before were to get A's in every class. I have accomplished my grades and some I didn't because other programs got in the way. I will be sure to complete all work handed to me once I get out."
Transcript 2: "Yes I have success with my Organized Binder. I have no problems with my binder because when I am looking for something I can find it easily. I like how when I am missing an assignment I know where to look for it. I have nothing I don't like at organized binder. This organized binder is different because I used to just stack my papers neatly and put them in my backpack. It is helpful for me because I don't spend a lot of time looking for things. I like the H page because to me that is what keeps me organized. My organized binder affects me by keeping me on track and causing me to stress less. I would recommend this to anyone who has trouble with being organized."
Frank W. Ballou Senior High School offers a myriad of academic programs that allow students to explore and reach their maximum potential. These programs include Honors and AP courses, grade-level Academies, an Arts and Technology Academy for students with special needs and the 21st Century Community Learning Center.
"As a 9th grader, Daren frequently got into trouble. He struggled to stay focused and complete assignments. All of his test scores indicated that he should have been an A or B student, but his lack of organization held him back. As a 10th grader, he has shown great improvement, both behaviorally and academically. He is a more confident and engaged student, largely due to the structure OB provides. In fact, Daren was recognized as “Most Improved” in the 10th Grade Academy at our First Quarter Awards Assembly."
“I am more focused this year than last year. I’m not in the hallways as much, my grades are much better. I’m more organized and I’m able to complete more work. I feel more successful as a 10th grader.” – Daren Dorsey, 10th Grader
Urban Community School is a K-8 school that provides primarily low-income children from Cleveland with an individualized, innovative, and challenging education. The school prides itself on welcoming a diverse student body, with a focus on serving low-income children. Urban Community School serves nearly 500 students with 78% living at or below the federal poverty level.
During the summer of 2015 we visited the Urban Community School to meet with the grades 4 and 5 faculty to train them on how to implement Organized Binder in their classrooms. A few weeks later teacher Megan McIntyre sent an update on how things are progressing in her 4th grade and 5th grade math and social studies classes. The feedback below is an excerpt from her email to us.
I just wanted to give you an update. We are on week 3 of using the binders and my students and I LOVE them! The first day was an almost disaster. Some of my students were more interested in playing with the binder and clicking the rings open and closed than following along to set it up. It took the entire hour of class the first day but day 2 was 200% better. This is what I have observed thus far…
Lastly, one day last week I had forgotten to put up the daily kick off and when my class came in it was a complete mess. Students were running to tell me at the door that there was no prompt and it was loud and kids were not settling at all. This really made me think about how peaceful transitions have been since starting Organized Binder.
I will continue to keep you posted,
School Information:Gateway offers a temporary program which provides students with a place to demonstrate positive behavior in the areas of academics, attendance and attitude. Students are placed at Gateway by the district schools for one or two semesters, and may, with the permission of the district, decide to stay longer.
"Three years ago we reorganized our school from the bottom to the top. Since August 2012, Organized Binder has become an institution at our school. Both students and teachers realize that Organized Binder drives our success. Expectations for the use and care of it are the norm in each classroom. Organized Binder gives everyone, staff and students, common ground to begin and end each class. We literally are on the same page!"
-Melinda Fore, Gateway Principal
“The importance of Organized Binder is to always be ready and know where your stuff is located, instead of going through everything and wasting valuable learning time.” -Gateway Student
“Organized Binder is helpful because I was never organized at my other school and I would lose tons of assignments.” –Gateway Student
“It feels good to have a clean, Organized Binder, it’s part of being responsible.” –Gateway Student
“I was not used to keeping my binder at school. I do like this method, when I used to bring my binder home at my old school I would forget things at home. Here I didn't and everything was there the next day.” –Gateway Student
“My Gateway students keep me organized by making sure my Table of Contents (H-Page) is always updated along with the classroom binder. ” -Sally Ploe, Gateway Teacher
School Information: Michigan has three criteria to categorize schools: Reward, Focus, and Priority. Reward schools are outperforming other schools, Focus schools have a large achievement gap in 30% of its student achievement scores, and Priority schools have achievement and growth in the lowest 5% of all schools in the state. Union High School was identified as a Priority School in 2012.
"Union high school is incredibly diverse with about 22 different home languages. The majority of our student population struggles financially. I came to Union in October 2013, during the 5th week of school. I left Grand Rapids Public Schools in 2010 and spent 3 years waitressing and teaching Diversity in Society for two local colleges. I was trained in using the Organized Binder in February 2009 and used it for 1 1/2 years before I left high school teaching. When I returned to high school teaching in October 2013, there was no question about using the system. I remembered how much success it brought my students previously and I wanted my students at Union to achieve the same level of success. I also believe that teaching a skill like organization is extremely important, regardless of the content. It's a life skill!
I have 129 kids and 25 failures. My failure rate is 19%. I haven't seen the data in awhile for the Foreign Language Department at Union High School, but the last time I saw it, we had a 35-40% failure rate. If I remove the 10 students with chronic absenteeism, I only have a 12% failure rate! I think that's INCREDIBLE!
I firmly believe that this is not my success. I believe more of my students would fail my class if it were not for the use of the Organized Binder. I also run a very structured classroom, and I think that helps reduce a lot of chaos which surrounds homework completion."
I think the Organized Binder is a system for everyone, not just students but also adults. I believe that every teacher in every class everywhere should have the Organized Binder if they really want their students to pass their class. For example, not only the hard classes like math, Spanish, and World History.
I like the Organized Binder because of the way it places papers in the binder. Not only are the main papers there to create new sections for my Spanish class, but they are also color coded for my teacher to easily tell us where to go in the binders. She can also see by looking around the room if we are on the right paper. Not only does it help the teacher but me also in my comprehension, learning, and organizational skills.
The binder has become really helpful for me. It’s a nice way to not lose papers and to be organized. I’m not so organized with my papers in other classes. I usually put all my graded papers in my backpack but the binder is different. It helps me keep track and keeps papers from the beginning of the year. I really like the binder.
The Organized Binder helps me keep things in place and helps me find the things I need. It could be helpful to students who have their minds going a mile-a-minute to keep things to find them so they can be organized better than their thoughts.
I love the Organized Binder a lot. As a student, sometimes I tend to get unorganized but in this Spanish One class I actually haven’t had papers out of order. Knowing I get a grade for having an organized binder helps me stay organized.
I like the organized binder because it helps me stay organized so I can find my work and notes faster and easier.
I can find my work easier. Everything is in one section neatly and in alphabetical order. The other people who were disorganized couldn’t find their work and it was just a mess. It’s so easy, I like it a lot.
The Organized Binder is helpful because it keeps things you need in a certain place. People who are unorganized could use this to keep their things in order and it makes it easier to find things.
I like the organized Binder because when the teacher says go to G10; I know exactly where that should be. Also, my binder is never a mess or cluttered.
I like the binder because it helps me find my papers easier. I have always been organized but this helps me more. Thanks for coming up with this.
It is a good system of keeping track of your work. The binder has greatly increased my work to stay organized while in my possession. Any person willing to stay on track and organized with their work should get the organized binder. The binder has been really helpful with me and others. I recommend getting a binder if you want to stay on track.
The reason why I like the Organized Binder is because it helps keep all my work in the correct spot. Without the organized binder I would lose a lot of work.
I like this binder because it helps me, as a busy student, to stay organized. I haven’t really been the type to be organized but since I started using the binder, I’ve gotten a lot better at it.
I just wanted to say that you coming up with the Organized Binder. It is the most efficient way to have organized work in a binder. I’m glad that you came up with the binder. It’s helping me and others at my school. Thank you!
The OB is awesome. The beginning of the year I had a hard time with it, now this is the most helpful thing. This binder helps out a lot of kids out and the teachers.
The OB has actually been a big help to us. It has especially helped the ones who were never able to keep track of their stuff. It’s a much easier and better way to have your papers in order without worrying about them. It’s a great tool.
I love the OB. It has helped me out so much. I never have any missing work because of the Organized Binder. If I wasn’t here for something, it was easy to find what I was missing. I think this would really help students who are struggling in school because they are disorganized. This binder keeps everything organized and all my stuff is in one place.
The OB helps me keep all my stuff organized really well. It actually helps me keep track of everything. I don’t lose stuff and when I need to find stuff, I just go to that section and find it. I really like the Organized Binder.
During my two years using the Organized Binder, I have stayed organized and have become more organized. It has allowed me to find something with ease. Overall, it is a great tool that will help someone become more organized.
Utilizing the Organized Binder allows students to stay organized and be more productive given its concept.
The Organized Binder is a sophisticated way of organizing in the modern day classroom. It also helps us with our organizational skills and understanding the content. Also, the OB helps me find my materials quicker than a regular folder, which loses materials at times. Thank you for the Organized Binder.
I like the binder because it helps me keep my work organized and can help others be organized with their stuff. And it helps me look for papers faster!
The Organized Binder is good because it keeps all of my papers in order and I know where all of my papers are. It also keeps me from having a big mess of papers everywhere.
The Organized Binder is really helpful because it makes things much easier. I have everything in one place and I don’t need to worry about having so many random papers in my back pack or losing them. Our binders have sections for what we’re going to do, our bell ringers, notes, homework, and our Articles of the Week. The way our binders are organized is so helpful to find what I need or what I have to do.