A list is a collection with purpose.
Recently I realized I’ve gotten in a rut with my daily to-do list. It always has about 10 or 15 random items on it. I jot down as little as possible, just a word or two, to remember the task. I love striking through items as they are completed, and have even developed the sad compulsion of writing down a task not on the list that I completed, only for the pleasure of striking through it.
I decided to experiment to see how reconfiguring that simple to-do list might reshape my thinking about tasks and priorities. I did some research and tried a bunch of different strategies, from writing my to-do list at the end of the workday instead of the beginning to adding some sketches to it. In the end, there are two techniques that stuck.
If you are like me and find yourself adding items not on your list only to strike through them, you might try keeping a Done List for a few days as an alternative (or addition) to your to-do list. The Done List starts out blank, and you list items as you complete them. On my most hectic professional days in the past, I not only didn’t complete more than a handful of items on my list, but ended the day thinking, What the hell did I accomplish today?
With the Done List, you can jot down the impromptu and meaningful tasks that rarely get noted on lists, like “Counseled Jessica about coaching position” when you help a colleague decide if she should stay in the classroom or take the new literacy coaching job. The “Done List” chronicles all you accomplish in a day, and it is especially comforting when nothing goes as planned.
The other change I’ve made is to follow the 1-3-5 rule for organizing my to-do list. It’s simple:
I start by listing one big thing I plan to accomplish during the day.
I then list three medium tasks that need to be done.
The last part of the list is five small things that need to be completed.
I confess my 1-3-5 lists are often more like 1-2-7 lists (there are always a lot of little things to get done). But having that big priority task at the start of it is wonderful for helping me focus.
I now have a to-do list with prioritized tasks. And I have a daily done list. I don’t stop and add items to the done list throughout the day, but I pause at the end of the workday and list a few satisfying or unexpected moments when I accomplished an unplanned task.
But I’ve decided not to get stuck in this new rut with my to-do list just yet. I just discovered Leonardo da Vinci didn’t keep a to-do list, but preferred a daily to-learn list. How would my day change if I listed a few things I wanted to learn at the start? I’m about to find out.
This week we look at ways to clean up and close out the school year in literacy. Enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris explain how ending the year is all about making space for memories, and provide some texts to help in the process.
Jillian Heise shares a marvelous poetry writing activity for students who are transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school.
Levels are one tool for analyzing readers’ needs, but it’s tempting to over-rely on them. In The Limits of Levels online course, Cathy Mere demonstrates a range of strategies for understanding and meeting the needs of young learners. The course runs June 18-30. Choice Literacy members receive discounts of 20-40% on the course fee.
The Lead Learners Consortium is offering a 20% discount to Choice Literacy subscribers to their Summer Institute on June 20 and 21 in Warsaw, Indiana. Use the promo code CHOICE to claim the discount. For more information, visit their ticketing site.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Cathy Mere considers the dilemma teachers face when the bookroom, library, and tech departments require books and devices to be returned late in the year . . . but there are still a few weeks of school. She shares many suggestions for fostering literacy and community when there are far fewer books in the room.
Jennifer Schwanke shares some quick tips for spring cleaning of classrooms and literacy supplies.
We continue our video series on options for student annotations during read alouds in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade classroom. In this installment, Kara uses Google Slides with text boxes to record predictions and thinking.
You can find more ideas for organizing literacy spaces in the Classroom Design section of the website.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
What should literacy coaches do at their last meeting of the year? Cathy Mere remembers how she closed the year with students to plan her closing activities with coaches.
Here are some quick closure activities to help you finish out the last study groups and meetings with colleagues on a high note.
Tammy Mulligan helps Katie, a sixth grader who lacks confidence in her reading abilities, reflect on her strengths and make plans for summer reading. This demonstration conference includes a prebrief and debrief with Katie’s teacher.
Diane Sweeney shares ways that coaches can end the year strong in the month of May.
Just because something belongs to you doesn’t mean you should keep it for the rest of your life. Things are meant to be transitory.
That’s all for this week!