A Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich and Changing the World

I get six minutes to change the world.

I host a lunch for freshmen four days a week in a classroom.

Freshmen who have missing homework are “invited” to come to my classroom and pick up a juice, milk, apple, and peanut butter & jelly sandwich and have a seat. I set the timer on my phone for six minutes and away we go.

I’m trying to change the world!

A place to begin for the reluctant studier:

“You have to T.O.P.A.!” I cry out almost everyday in order to begin my six minutes.

T.O.P.A. stand for Think, Organize, Plan, and Act.

Think and Organize – I challenge students to start their time of studying with five minutes of thinking. Set a timer on their phone set to airplane mode. During those five minutes students touch every piece of paper in their backpack, check their computer for missing assignments, and review notes or handouts from the day.

While hunting, students use a scrap piece of paper to make two lists: School and Personal.

The school list enshrines the tasks of the day in writing. The personal list is for all those random To-Do items that often pull a student away from studying. Items are listed and not acted upon during these five minutes.

Once that is over the student can now enter the second phase of T.O.P.A., the Planning and Action phase.

I like timers. It sets focus, expectation, and urgency to the task at hand. Students should set aside chunks of time, 15 – 30 minutes, to study. This studying is not the wussy studying: TV, couch, chips & salsa, iphone, laptop, and a textbook. This is the “I’m not moving unless the house is on fire” kind of studying. If an important To-Do item comes to mind, the item is quickly written on the scrap of paper (School or Personal) and the studying continues.

The Action and Planning phase continues in cycles of studying and short breaks until the student is ready for the next day.

The main problem reluctant studiers seem to have is how to begin. This simple process gives them a way to do that.


1 Comment on A Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich and Changing the World

  1. This is true for reluctant program starters as well! I’m forgetting phase one “Think and Organize” where priorities and purpose are set. Without this phase, I’m like a hamster on wheel. A whole lot of action but I’m not getting anywhere. Skipping phase one only causes fatigue and frustration!


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