I am a list-maker. According to my mom, I have always been on the organized, neat and tidy, methodical side of life. I have a particular method when I make lists. There is generally a rationale behind the organization even when it comes to making the list. I remember being in college and having to re-configure my list making because of the new demands in college.
I was terrified that an assignment would come due and I would have nothing completed for it. So, in this case I would divide each day in my planner. On the left side were the tasks to DO. On the right, things that were DUE. Clever, right?
Even now, one might say that lists rule my life. They help me feel in control, planned, prepared. When walking around my house, it might be evident where I have been and what I have been thinking about according to my lists. On the coffee table, next to my computer and text book is a list of things to do in general (one before August 1st, and one from August 1-15th). In the kitchen lists abound! A whiteboard on the fridge names things that could be looked for in a garage sale, a pecking order of things to remember when so-and-so comes to visit. Near the utility room is a grocery list, sectioned off by the different "departments" when shopping. We even have a menu list with the days of the week running down the side. On down the hallway in the bathroom might be a list of things needed written on the mirror with dry erase markers. At the end of the hall, in my room, lists of books read and to read, summer goals, birthdays, gift ideas, and things to research float around. Even on the computer where I am typing now, a virtual sticky note marks the tasks yet to be completed for my graduate course. Travel across town to my classroom... yes, lists certainly exist there!
All this to say, lists are important to me. They are a part of my life, routine, and sometimes, mental health!
It struck me this summer that given how essential this simple tool is for me, I have never explicitly taught this in my classroom. Sure, I have heard about different lessons that have referred to or mentioned list making, but not on its own. It occurred to me- why not? It's practical, useful, and valuable for everyday life! I think it may also help start the mental organizational process in students at an earlier part in the year. I might also make the argument that it could help some kids see things in a big picture and in smaller parts. Hmmmm... maybe it isn't all that trivial or obsessive compulsive after all. It just might have its own place within higher level thinking skills, independence, and writing workshop.
On the other hand, another thing I had to learn this summer was FLEXIBILITY! I had become too rigid with my lists. I was stressing myself over not completing them, and feeling devalued because of it. It was major feat for me when I realized it was okay to pick and choose things from my lists (depending on the list!), and throw away the list even when all of the things weren't complete.
So, this year I might dive into the waters of list making with my first graders. I hope to teach them all of the positive ways this skill can be applied to their life and their thinking. But I want to make sure that I teach them to ride the waves and be flexible with themselves and their learning. I might even reteach myself a thing or two!