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Success Snapshot: May 2015: A Classroom at Union High School, Grand Rapids, MI

Posted by 
Mitch Weathers
May 26, 2015



School: Union High School | Grand Rapids | Michigan

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.



Teacher: Diane Nienhuis | Spanish 1 and Spanish 2

"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!

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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."



Kiamyeli Rivera

Kiamyeli Rivera - Union High School Student

Orialis Marte
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.

Indy Velasquez-Lewis
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.

Sarai Vargas-Ortiz
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.

Raquel Petree
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.

Iyonna Davis-Wallace

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.

Pilar Martinez
I like the organized binder because it helps me stay organized so I can find my work and notes faster and easier.

Halima Abdi
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.

Jaitasia Suddeth
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.

Kourtnei Rowe
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.

Sierra Ferguson
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.

Miguel Mejia
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.

Derrick Peoples
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.

Keyona Bledsoe
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.

Richard Gibbs
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!

Derius Peoples
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.

Esther Sierra
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.

Marisa Bustamente
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.

Kiley Stevens
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.

Armando Miguel
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.

Miguel Fernandez
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.

Kiamyeli Rivera
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!

Adrian Galvan
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.

Carmen Lopez
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.

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One comment on “Success Snapshot: May 2015: A Classroom at Union High School, Grand Rapids, MI”

  1. Awesome job, Grand Rapids, MI!!! My Spanish classes are also still using The Organized Binder years later! We are at Ottawa Hills High School - the same district as Union HS (GRPS, Grand Rapids, MI). After I saw you at a conference in Oakland, California, years ago, I knew my students and I would be Organized-Binder-Lifers! Diane is a wonderful teacher, and it's so great to see that we, both, are still using The Organized Binder with our students and achieving similar results! Thank you so much, Mitch, for your expertise and the AMAZING system we use each day in the classroom....especialmente en la clase de español 🙂

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