Final Thoughts

October 8, 2007

My final product may be viewed by clicking here

I am once again amazed by Google.  I used the presentation document within Google documents to create my slide show.  It’s very similar to Microsoft PowerPoint and simple to use.  My power point presentation does not incorporate too many scrapbook elements as I previously thought it might.  Although I’m a paper scrapper, I haven’t delved into this world yet.  I decided not to learn a new skill in the midst of finishing up one inquiry.  Digital scrapbooking would have been a very interesting information inquiry topic! Oh well, maybe next time :)

I’d like to mention a few more books that I found most helpful during this whole process and refer to in my final product.

Title : Cut the clutter and stow the stuff : the Q.U.I.C.K. way to bring lasting order to household chaos Book
Publisher, Date : Emmaus : Rodale, c2002.
ISBN : 1579544932 (hardcover : alk. paper) - Description : x, 372 p. : ill. : 24 cm.
Call Number : 648 CUT

Title : Real simple. The organized home Book
Author : Cronstrom, Kendell.
Publisher, Date : Des Moines, IA : Real Simple Books, c2004.
ISBN : 1932273565 : 27.95 - Description : 191 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm.
Call Number : 648.8 CRO

Title : Organizing plain & simple Book
Author : Smallin, Donna, 1960-
Publisher, Date : North Adams, MA : Storey Books, c2002.
ISBN : 1580174485 (pbk. : alk. paper) : 16.95 - Description : x, 309 p. ; ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.
Call Number : 640 SMA

More thoughts

October 8, 2007


How did it go? I think overall this project went fairly well. I’m really pleased with my final product. I enjoyed searching for and discovering all the useful new ideas in regards to organizing my office space. I have even begun implementing many of the ideas. In chapter 17 of The Blue Book on Information Age Inquiry, Instructing and Literacy Preddy gives a list of self-evaluation questions for students to use at the end of their inquiry research (p. 265 & 268). I decided to use some of these questions to help reflect the strengths, weaknesses, and challenges of the project.

What did I learn about my topic that I didn’t know before? If I had more time, what would I still like to learn about my topic?

I learned that all my past attempts at organization have really been just cleaning and picking up stuff. Without a true system and plan in place, things will not stay organized. I also learned many ways to organize an office space and tame the paper. If I had more time, I would further explore filing paper systems and how to use the computer instead of paper to organize many day to day tasks.

What was my best and worst research question? Why do I think it was the best/worst?

My best question was ‘How do you avoid piles of paper?’ because it is the key to having an organized home office. If a system is implemented and followed, paper will not pile up and be a problem. My worst question was ‘What is the best way to organize a home office in a multi-functioning room?’. I think this was a bad question because ultimately, it doesn’t matter if a room has more than one purpose as long as the space for each purpose is designated. Organizing a home office within a kitchen is no different than organizing a whole room as an office except for the fact that you have less space to work with.

What source or type of source did I find most and least useful? What was good/bad about it?

My most useful sources were books and my sister. I enjoyed looking through the books about decluttering and organizing. I especially liked being able to zero in on chapters that addressed home offices and paper management. The books that included vivid color pictures helped me to visualize the ideas. The least useful sources for me were internet sites. Although there are many dedicated to the same ideas I found in books, I didn’t feel the same sense of satisfaction when reading and looking through them.

Which people were most helpful? How did they help?
My sister was quite helpful during this exploration because she listened to ideas I found and suggested new ideas based on her personal experiences and knowledge. She sent links to pictures in catalogs of organization tools she used in her home.

What could I do better next time? What would help me do a better job next time?
Next time, I would spend more time on the Wiggling and Weaving steps instead of the Webbing portion. For me, it was difficult to gauge the amount of time that would be needed to work through all 8 of Lamb’s Ws in her Model for Information Literacy (2001). It was also difficult for me to continue through the steps and not get side tracked on other possibilities. I think a suggested timeline would be helpful for me next time and would improve my efficiency. This could be a calendar that tells when different phases of the process should be completed and keeps students on track working through the 8Ws with the final deadline as the goal.

Personal Experiences and Connections

I’m sure my personal inquiry experiences are quite similar to most students whether children or young adults who complete a personal inquiry project. I felt overwhelmed at many times because of the openness of this assignment, yet I also felt overwhelmed because of all the steps and questions that needed to be completed and answered. Each time this happened, I looked to classmates and information from Dr. Lamb to help work through these spots. Harada and Yoshina comment “as they stumble and hit roadblocks, instructors guide students to think through their problems by asking additional questions about strategies used and new options to try” (p. 2). My personal ideas and opinions about inquiry have been student centered and driven since learning about this radical idea in graduate school. In the classroom, several teachers and I tried out these new ideas (as listed by Harada and Yoshina, p. 2-3) of using questioning to drive the learning experience, depending on the students to direct the direction of learning, learning by doing, having products and show applied learning, and most of all practicing authentic learning. Elementary students overwhelmingly responded to these methods and embraced them. Authentic hands on learning is engaging and much more fun than teaching from the textbook for the test. During the scope of this project, I have been reminded of these things that I had almost forgotten from being out of the classroom. I remembered how students responded to being treated as if their ideas and questions were important. I, in turn, felt empowered while doing this project that I too could create something meaningful through the inquiry process and found myself agreeing whole heartedly with Preddy‘s statement: “Using the information inquiry approach to research is a powerful, fulfilling experience for students and educators” (p. 269).

Curriculum Connections (revisited)

I have given a lot of thought as to how my topic of home office organization could be translated into a curricular experience for children. Students at the upper elementary level could work together in pairs or small groups to come up with organization ideas for a chosen room in a house. They could be directed with a framework of questions such as:
What is the messiest room in your house?
How could you change the room to make it less messy?
How could you prevent the room from returning to being messy again?
Students could also generate their own questions. A variation of this idea Students could use books, magazines, and websites to find ideas. Their final projects could be presented as a collage of magazine pictures, drawings, power point presentation, poster, written report, or any other way that illustrated their findings and answered the questions.

5th Grade Standards
5.2.1 Use the features of informational texts, such as formats, graphics, diagrams, illustrations, charts, maps, and organization, to find information and support understanding.
5.24 Draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence and prior knowledge.

Listening & Speaking
5.7.15 Deliver informative presentations about an important idea, issue, or event by the following means:
Frame questions to direct the investigation
Establish a controlling idea or topic
Develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations

Older students in middle or high school could take this idea even further. They could be allocated a certain amount of imaginary money to spend on organizational storage ideas for the room. Final products could be any of the ones mentioned for elementary students along with a detailed list of how their money was spent. Most students would be familiar with this type of idea because of popular decorating shows such as “Clean Sweep” and “Trading Spaces”.

Standards for Grade 9:


9.2.3 Generate relevant questions about readings on issues or topics that can be researched.

9.2.4 Synthesize the content from several sources or works by a single author dealing with a single issue; paraphrase the ideas and connect them to other sources and related topics to demonstrate comprehension.

Skills, Strategies, and Applications

9.7.4 Use props, visual aids, graphs, and electronic media to enhance the appeal and accuracy of presentations.


October 7, 2007

Finding a K12 learning standard that fits with home office organization is, of course, impossible. But organization is extremely relevant to the K12 standards, isn’t it? I first reviewed the Career and Technical Programs without much luck. Then I explored the
Business, Marketing, and Information Technology Course Descriptions, Content Standards, and Performance Expectations

Surely there must be something in there about organizing all the business papers, files, and such! Well, not specifically. But I think it best fits under:

Business Foundations 3.1 Content Standard

Students will explore the unique characteristics of an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur must have organization skills to be successful! This idea helped me find the next tie-in.

Entrepreneurship Content Standard 2.1

Students understand the functions involved in planning and organizing a business.

AASL Information Literacy Learning Standards

Standard 4: The student who is an independent learner is information literate and pursues information related to personal interests.

Wiggling, Weaving, more about Wrapping & even Waving

October 6, 2007

What have I done with the information I’ve found? I’m a note taker. As I skimmed and read through various resources, I wrote brief notes and ideas down in a composition book. While online and looking at various websites, I used Google notebook to help organize and keep track of ideas found. In evaluating the content, ideas, and perspectives of these information resources, I used the analysis techniques recommended by Callison (p. 276) to evaluate each idea by its authority, source, context, and method used. The majority of books and websites I used were authored by certified organization experts. As far as I know, there aren’t any political, social, or economic agendas held by NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) :).   I used only recent publications posted or published in the last 7 years. The methods used to gather the organizational techniques and ideas in each source varied from personal experience, systematic experimentation, eye witness accounts, and primary sources. The resources I used while gathering ideas about organization in the home office were all quite practical. I didn’t have to worry about the types of information Mary Ann Fitzgerald warns about that may “present personal attack…provide overly broad definitions…ignore practical issues…and are based on sarcasm” (Callison, p. 31).

My sister, who I have previously mentioned as being a super-organized person, helped immensely during this project. We live states apart now and it wasn’t possible for her to come in and evaluate my space. Instead, I e-mailed a picture of my home office to her. She then made recommendations about what needed to be done. We talked about these recommendations on the phone. She also sent many pictures of her ideas to help me visualize ways to change the space and types of organization techniques/containers to use.

How did I synthesize and apply all of this information? I worked through the modified questions to see if I had found answers to all of them. I discussed the ideas that I had discovered with my sister and my husband. Often when I was researching, I would read and share ideas aloud to my husband. “Do you think this would work in our space?” I’d ask him and show pictures or explain more of the ideas. Then, I spent a morning applying this new found information to my office space. I stacked, sorted, and weeded through everything on my desk top and rearranged until I felt the setup was usable. I have a few more ideas I’d like to implement (when there is extra money), but for now I’m quite happy with the changes I’ve made based on the research I did.

The final product for me is my newly organized office space.  The presentation of these ideas and pictures will probably only be shared with Dr. Lamb and my classmates and my sister.  My findings were geared towards me and my space, so I don’t think it will have global appeal.


October 6, 2007

I suppose the most frustrating part of this whole journey for me has been verbalizing my thinking patterns. As I stated a few posts ago, I’ve moved through the stages but it is so difficult for me to stop and analyze what I’ve done and relate it to the stages. But, that’s what this is all about. Callison and Lamb state in their chapter on Authentic Learning and Assessment (p. 292-302) “information inquiry is at the core of authentic learning.” I know that I’ve learned a lot during this inquiry process and I hope I’m sufficiently explaining my process.

As I’m finishing the wiggling and weaving (will post more about this later), I’ve considered the wrapping portion of this project. All along, I’ve thought that I would use a simple before and after picture of my home office space to showcase the improvements I’ve made during this process. The past few days I decided that this would not be enough. I re-read through different ideas Dr. Lamb shared with us and also several of my classmates blogs and realized this wouldn’t cut it. I thought about the Powerpoint Presentation and then stumbled into the idea of doing a combination powerpoint scrapbook/presentation. As a scrapbooker, I like this idea a lot! It will combine some of the best tips I’ve learned along with pictures. So now, it’s a work in process…soon to be finished.

Google…where do they get all these cool toys?

October 5, 2007

**We interrupt this personal inquiry blog for a quick commercial/testimonial about Google. ** 

It seems like every day I find something else super cool that Google offers that makes my life on the computer easier.  This week’s discovery is the Google notebook.  Searching through lots of webpages for ideas and such, I found that all I had to do was download this simple tool (while in FireFox…my browser of choice) and now I can click and snip bits of info from web pages and it shows up in this handy dandy spot.  I can create different notebooks and use them to keep track of all the info I need that I find.  It’s useful for class, my job, and for fun too!  I was already a firm believer in Google documents.  Helps me keep info I might need to get to at work or home available without toting around a flash drive or such.  Of course g-mail absolutely rocks…why would you use any other e-mail?

**and now back to the Inquiry process :)**

October 5, 2007

Found this great clip today. [kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Thanks to my classmates Michael and Cindy for inspiring me to search for video clips after viewing their awesome blogs.

October 5, 2007

Reading through my blog, I noticed I didn’t report how I located books on my topic. Since I work at a library, I immediately turned to our online catalog when beginning my search. I did a keyword search for home organization as the subject and only found 4 books. 4? You’ve got to be kidding me! I knew I’d seen lots more books around in our non-fiction section. So, I clicked on a title to look at more information about the book…specifically the subjects listed in the record. It looked like this:

Title: Easy home organizer : 15-minute step-by-step solutions
Call Number: 640 PAY
Format: Book
Author: Payne, Vicki.
Publisher, Date: New York, NY : Sterling Pub., 2007.
Description: 128 p. : col. ill. ; 27 cm.
Note: Includes index.
Subject: Home economics.
  Time management.
  Storage in the home.
LCCN: 2006027139
ISBN: 140272442X : 19.95

Aha! storage in the home…that sounded more like it. Clicking on that search term yielded 40 books. This tactics parallel with the varying search tactics Callison mentions on pages 403-404; specifically Tracing, and Neighboring.

What next? Well, I waded through the 640s and 648s for titles that strike my fancy. The books I chose to explore had ideas for all parts of the house. Once I decided to narrow my focus to the home office, I began to gather ideas from chapters that specifically focused on this part of the house.

& I returned to my handy online catalog to see if we had any books that specifically addressed organizing the home office. Office organization as search terms yielded nada. Home office, a mere 7 titles and only the following 4 showing any promise.


  The home office planner   Book
  Author : Phillips, Barty.
  Publisher, Date : San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 2001.
  ISBN : 0811829421 (HC) : 24.95 - Description : 96 p. : col. ill. ; 25 cm.
  Call Number : 747.7 PHI
  Availability: 1 (of 1) - Current Holds : 0
  Availability | Add to Title List | Place Request | More Info

  At work, at home : design ideas for your home workplace   Book
  Author : Zimmerman, Neal.
  Publisher, Date : Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 2001.
  ISBN : 1561583790 : 29.95 - Description : 234 p. ; 29 cm.
  Call Number : 747.7 ZIM
  Availability: 1 (of 1) - Current Holds : 0
  Availability | Add to Title List | Place Request | More Info

  The complete home office : planning your work space for maximum efficiency   Book
  Author : Rosenbaum, Alvin.
  Publisher, Date : New York, N.Y. : Viking Studio Books, 1995.
  ISBN : 0670852937 - Description : 223 p. : ill. ; 29 cm.
  Call Number : 658.23 ROS
  Availability: 0 (of 1) - Current Holds : 0
  Availability | Add to Title List | Place Request | More Info

  The ultimate home office.   Book
  Publisher, Date : Alexandria, Va. : Time-Life Books, c1997.
  ISBN : 0783549482 - Description : 256 p. : col. ill. ; 29 cm.
  Call Number : 747.79 ULT
  Availability: 1 (of 1) - Current Holds : 0
  Availability | Add to Title List | Place Request | More Info

The one that looked most promising (The Complete Home Office) was of course, checked out. :(  I went back to the original list of 7 and clicked on the first title to see why it was coming up using my search terms.

  Title : Organizing from the right side of the brain : a creative approach to getting organized   Book
  Author : Silber, Lee T.
  Publisher, Date : New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2004. - Edition : 1st ed.
  ISBN : 0312318162 (pbk.) : 13.95 - Description : xv, 304 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
  Call Number : 648.8 SIL
Current Holds :
  Add to Title List | Place Request | More Info | Next Title>>
Availability Detailed Information Viewing: 1 (of 7)
Title: Organizing from the right side of the brain : a creative approach to getting organized
Call Number: 648.8 SIL
Format: Book
Author: Silber, Lee T.
Edition: 1st ed.
Publisher, Date: New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2004.
Description: xv, 304 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
Subject: Paperwork (Office practice) — Management.
  Storage in the home.
ISBN: 0312318162 (pbk.) : 13.95

Paperwork (Office practice) — Management. Bingo! That’s where most of my questions and problems were. Grabbed the book and dug right in! (What a great title…I’ve always considered myself more of the creative/right brain type.)



October 4, 2007

While webbing and finding information, I quickly became overwhelmed with the amount of information. I obviously had not focused in enough for the topic and had asked too many broad questions. I decided my specific focus in organization would be my home office. It is in my kitchen and the table becomes cluttered with mail, paper, etc. I reviewed the first questions I had wanted to explore, threw out a few, and generated a few new ones.

  • What is the best way to organize a family office in a multi-functioning room?
  • What do you do with all the paper (bills, school notes, mail, etc.)?
  • How do I help my children learn to be organized now for life long mastery?
  • What is the secret to getting organized and staying that way?
  • Toys? Do they multiply on their own? How do we contain them yet keep them easily accessible? 
  • How much time will it take to organize selected rooms? How much time will it save me in the long run?

    New questions:

    • How do I keep the office area from being cluttered?
    • How do I keep from having piles of paper?
    • What papers can I get rid of?
    • What papers do I have to save?

    I took these questions and began to re-explore the resources with my new focus.

    Callison reports that this change in focus and questions is a natural part of the investigative process for students. “How did your research questions evolve over the information search process? Show how the questions became more detailed, specific, or interesting as you explored…At what point did you know you had the question you wanted to focus on for your inquiry project?” (p. 173).

    October 2, 2007

    The deadline is looming.  All the thinking I’ve been doing about this project needs to be translated onto this blog.  I’ve already done my final product :), now to back up and blog the rest of the process.

    Stay tuned!

      Personal inquiry and exploration using the 8W's for SLIS 574.