The start of any year or semester provides the space and time to reset, reflect, refocus, and plan. This is true for our students as well. In the first weeks of school this year, instead of talking about doing the work, grades, and time management, I’ve decided to have students try out an activity in which they will investigate their own phenomenon. In this activity,

1.) Student will fold a piece a paper horizontally into three sections.

2.) They labeled each section with 10 seconds, 1 minute, and 5 minutes.

3.) For 10 seconds, they are to draw what they did during winter break. Scarcity in time freaks them out and by the time the 10 seconds runs out, most student chuckle at their own art.

4.) For 1 minute, they are to draw that they did during winter break. During this time, quiet is necessary so that students are able to focus on task. After the 1 minute is up, I had them quietly compare the 10 seconds drawing with the 1 minute drawing.

5.) For the final 5 minutes, students drew the same topic but now they have more time. Walking around the class, I see students putting more detail. With the time they have, I encourage students to look at their scene and determine what their environment was like, whom and/or what they were interacting with, and the what clothes they were wearing.

An examples of that piece of work is below;

After the 5 minutes were up, they all compared each others work and reflected on the difference between the 10 seconds, 1 minutes, and 5 minutes draw. Most importantly, I had them reflect on why I had them do this.


When we talk about the practicing the growth mindset, a goal needs to be set. In this case, the goal was to draw what they did for winter break. In my class, and I’m sure in your classes, our middle school students in general are not the best at managing their time so it’s hard to grow in the specified goal when you lack the time to progress even if you place your effort into meeting that goal.

During a PD at our school, our AVID team showed this graph on their presentation. It shows that one is able to recall info when given the time and frequency of review. I find this true not only in the classroom but also as a boxing coach and as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner that it will take more than 1 day to fully understand and movement and will more a period of time to successfully implement the movement.

When one acquires the necessary skills and is given the time to put effort into placing those skills into practice, growth and result happen. How do we make sure that this happens?

A strategy that I use is to break up the time. Projects in our class range from 2 weeks to 2 months long. Break up the 2 months into 1-2 week intervals. Each week is focused on a particular goal or objective that will help our students get to the terminal goal. Backwards planning in needed to make this happen.

There are a number of tools that you can use to plan backwards. One of those tools is Padlet and in the following blog post, ( I model what backwards planning looks like using the tool. Once all the tasks have been outline, you place those tasks on a timeline or calendar as checkpoints. By the end of the 1 or 2 weeks period, this is a deliverable that students must have to reach that checkpoint goal so that they are on time in meeting the objective for the project.

In providing 1 or a 2 week checkpoint, you provide scarcity in time which will have your learners focus on that task at hand rather than the whole 2 months and having them focus on the task in the last two weeks of school. Having checkpoint allows for progress checks and allows for the class community to provide feedback for the deliverable which are all necessary for one’s growth.

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