Manage Impulsivity with Scissors

Pic 1Scissors are a great way to help students to better manage their impulsivity. And no, I’m not talking about not running with scissors, or being careful not to cut yourself – although they are both important things to learn!

Managing Impulsivity includes being planned. The ability to organize and prioritize. To sequence and work out all the steps needed to complete a task. Unfortunately it is often the teacher who does most of this planning for the students. We provide “recipes” for projects that tell students to do this, and then do that. To work through these steps in order. This is great for helping to learn the content, but not so great at helping them improve their management of impulsivity.

There has to be a way to do both: teach the content AND develop the Habit of Mind.

In my science classes I provided students with step by step instructions to carefully follow – before I learned to use scissors to manage impulsivity.

The problem with asking student to plan for them selves is that often they aren’t very good at it. There are too many steps, and too many decisions to be made. We either believe they can’t do it, or that other learning outcomes (that might not be met if we asked students to plan) are more important.

What I discovered was that, using scissors, I could cut up instructions into manageable chunks. My 20 step science prac first got cut into 5 pieces, then 8, then 10. Then I started leaving pieces out and asking students to work out which steps were missing. The concept is simply, but very very powerful. It can be applied to any task that has structure, order or priority of some sort. This includes the structure of an essay, a recipe, a computer program, the process for developing a budget just to name a few.

Students learn how to plan so become better at managing impulsivity. And all you’ll need is a pair of scissors!