Leveraging Google Calendar to Improve Organizational Cognitive Skill in Boys.

Life at my school can be hectic and overwhelming at times, maybe most of the time. Being organized and leveraging the technology available in a smart way will help you manage your workload and reduce stress. I plan to develop a way to organize yourself using the framework of David Allen’s “Five Simple Steps That Apply Order to Chaos” and Google Calendar.

Facilitated by advancements in technology we are becoming increasingly accessible. The result of which has our inboxes dinging at all hours of the night, enticing us to check them and luring us back into our virtual offices.  Think about how many times you checked an email and it lingered in your mind late into the night. “I’ve got to remember to take care of that in the morning” you say to yourself. You toss and turn in your sleep holding onto that important memory, your brain working overtime to plan and solve the issue in preparation for dealing with it the next day. Allen says in his course “Your brain is for having ideas not for holding them”. This is where your ability to leverage the tools at your disposal to capture and organize important action items in order to “get things done” comes into play.

Students of the 21st century are bombarded at an unprecedented pace with information. Status updates, emails, texts, feeds and media in many different forms are overloading the brain and competing for their attention. So what are we doing as educators to help students manage and organize the flow of information? Not much in my opinion. My proposed action plan works to try solve this dilemma by creating online training geared towards improving the organizational skills of the students at my school. I’m focusing mainly on boys because I work at an all boys school but many of the strategies I develop will be applicable to any busy person.

The plan is to take David Allen’s research and apply his “Getting it Done” framework to a specific organizational tool, which in this case will be Google Calendar. The course is entirely delivered online through our learning management system (Haiku). Some boys will be required to complete the course as part of their individual plans with the Centre For Learning. However, the rest of the boys will be encouraged to complete it in the form of a game. My hope is that boys will complete the “enhanced learning booster pack” (the learning module) to upgrade their characters organizational skill set in the game. The idea is to add a visual representation of their learning in the form of a virtual character whose skill set is improved over time by completing online training and continuing to apply the skills they learn to their academic lives. The students can continue to receive skill points by showing evidence of the use of the strategies they learn. Badging could be utilized when students reach certain thresholds of achievements and those badges could be displayed on their profile and in their CVs much like additional qualifications(using a service like Credly).

Here is a snapshot of my brainstorm for the project (not including the gamification).


4 thoughts on “Leveraging Google Calendar to Improve Organizational Cognitive Skill in Boys.

  1. Ryan, this is exciting indeed! I like how you’re going to leverage the calendar as a collaborative tool with the students. When creating the adviser program at my previous school, the calendar was a pivotal piece to coordinate assessments, extra-help sessions, sports/drama commitments, and personal commitements. It is a fundamentally important executive functioning skill. I’m excited to see how this goes for you!


  2. Ryan, I love this idea. You raise an important question in your post: “What are we doing as educators to help students manage and organize the flow of information?” As my school continues to roll out the IB-MYP in Grades 7 – 10, we’ve been brainstorming how to explicitly teach the Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills – which include “organization” and “information literacy” skill clusters. I’ll definitely be interested to hear how this works for you – I can see the Google Calendar being a very effective tool for teaching and practicing these important skills.

    You might be interested in checking out example of how a mathematics teacher used Google Calendar for her classes: https://sites.google.com/a/gdrsd.org/ms-durling/

    Good luck!

  3. YES! I want to high five this blog post.

    I’m so looking forward to stalking your action plan and seeing where this learning takes you. As mentioned in our Google Hang a few weeks back, this is going to be a game changer (pun intended) and such a worthwhile project.

    Your comment about how to use technology appropriately and with boundaries (not checking email right before going to bed, for example) speaks to something so important, I believe. We have these incredible tools, but do we really know how to use them in way that is healthy and supports what we truly need?

    I just read Danny’s Neville’s post about mindfulness in the classroom. While it sounds like you have a pretty clear organizational framework for your action plan, I really encourage you to keep a close eye on Danny’s mindfulness work. There could be something valuable in his learning that could influence your own project: http://cohort21.com/dannyneville/2014/12/31/mindfulness-in-the-classroom/ at the very least, his writing is worth a read a supportive comment!

    Keep being amazing.

  4. Hi Ryan,
    What a great idea!! As we move forward with GCal next year, I look forward to seeing how this goes! Gamifying with boys and organisation is a great combination! You’ve got your work cut out for you and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    Have you checked out Google in Education’s Get Trained programs? These could be used for staff or students to help them understand their calendar features. https://www.google.com/edu/training/get-trained/ Could save you a lot of time of creating new things. Specific skills could be highlighted as well or you could just ask them to explore!

    I echo @ckirsh point of checking out @dneville ‘s blog on mindfulness. http://cohort21.com/dannyneville/2014/12/31/mindfulness-in-the-classroom/ so great!

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