The portable desk

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I’m a huge fan of the what I’ve coined as the “portable desk.” Most kids don’t really like to work at a desk so having an easy way to bring the contents of a desk to any place in the house – the kitchen table, the sofa, the floor, etc – is key to making sure your kids have what they need to get their work done, no matter where they are working. And the best thing about a portable desk is that when your kids are done, they can load everything back in it and your kitchen table is cleared for breakfast the next morning.

Think of the portable desk as vehicle for transporting everything your kid needs get work done  - pens, pencils, erasers, ruler, tape, glue stick, post-its, highlighters, colored pencils or pens, a hole punch, stapler and extra binder and graph paper to and from a work space. I recommend the Snapware Snap ‘N Stack Portable Organizer, 14.1″x10.5″x3.7″ Rectangle found on Amazon or at Target. What I like about this particular container is that is has two different compartments. You can use the top for storing pens and supplies and the bottom for paper. And the handle makes it easy to move to and from one study space to another.

 

Designing for students

Organizing and prioritizing can be two of the most challenging tasks faced by today’s teenagers. A teenager who masters these skills is well on their way to achieve success both in school and in life. My goal is to offer students the tools and the tricks that will get them there.

In the course of developing ClassTracker® Planners, I recognized that there were many gaps in what students needed to help them become better organized and what they were being offered in the marketplace. Most books on this topic were, in fact, written for parents. I visualized ClassTracker as an opportunity for me to create a calendaring system for students that is not only approachable and interesting for teens but also works in consort with their individual/specific classes and scheduling.

Books geared towards high school success have traditionally been written more like textbooks, rather than designed for a teen reader. In Make the Grade, I worked with the publisher to develop both content and a design that will have great appeal to a teen reader, peppering the book with short sidebars filled with digestible quick tips. I share strategies about how to learn and make the most out of school, including how to manage stress, set goals, and how to learn how to study. In Where’s My Stuff, we went further, describing tips and tricks for organizing school stuff, managing time and activities and setting up your room by engaging the students with graphics, quizzes and step-by-step directions.

 

Tools to help students succeed

When I started tutoring I realized that students had to be masters of time management, organization and self-advocacy skills to keep up with the demands of seven different classes, extra-curricular activities and family life. Through each of these experiences, I increasingly recognized the ways in which I could help students unlock their potential for success.

I drew upon these collective experiences and expertise I had developed to create something that could benefit students beyond my classroom or my private tutoring sessions. I wanted to develop educational products, informed by what I learned from working with students in these contexts, to share with students far and wide. Much of my tutoring focused on helping students to develop better time management skills. I realized they needed a better tool than what the schools were providing them. Specifically, the planners that the students used to record and manage their homework did not reflect the way that students viewed their days. Using my graphic design background (I worked as a production artist right out of college) and lots of student input, I created the first prototype of a ClassTracker customized planner and I gave to one to each of my clients. Seven years and many prototypes later, ClassTracker planners are now distributed by schools to over 7,500 students in the Bay Area.

Since not all students are provided ClassTrackers, I wanted to find a way to offer students and their families to create their own customized planner. At My ClassTracker™, Students design their own planner by selecting a weekly layout that best matches their own school’s schedule, adding in important dates and birthdays and choosing a cover design.