Empowering Students - Pay Attention and You Will Find the Magic

Posted by Erica Warren on

As a learning specialist and educational therapist, I find an individualized approach for each of my students is key. I often begin by giving the Student Processing Inventory, but I also pay careful attention to my student’s mannerisms, sense of humor, and passions when creating a tailored intervention. Student on iPhone

Just this past week, I was working with Olivia, a 10-year-old that will be entering the 5th grade this fall. In school, Olivia has struggled with maintaining attention, reading comprehension, multi-step directions, and math. This student is a vivacious and voracious learner who loves color and order. In fact, this past week, Olivia eagerly showed me a strategy that she created to organize her iPhone, and quite frankly, it blew me away. It is not only an approach that I am now using myself, but it provides a wonderful glimpse on how I can best serve the needs of this creative learner.


What is Olivia’s Ingenious Approach to Organizing Iphone Apps?

an iphone

Olivia came up with a “Rainbow Approach” to arranging her apps, and her technique is spreading like wildfire as her friends are asking her to duplicate it on their devices. Olivia quickly organized my apps this way, and when a friend of mine saw it, she implored that I help her to reorganize her iPhone this way too.
Executive Functioning Coaching

Here are the Steps to Olivia’s Approach:

  1. Look at each app icon and organize similar colors into the same folder. This can be done by holding your finger down on an app icon until all the icons wiggle. Then, click and drag icons of similar color on top of one another. This will create a folder. Next, click and drag other apps of a similar color into that folder.
  2. Once you have all the app icons organized into color coded folders, drag the folders and organize the colors in the sequence of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. You can also arrange black apps as well as white and gray apps into their own folders.
  3. When apps are multicolored, Olivia suggests placing this in the “rainbow folder.”
  4. You can label the folders with a word, but Olivia uses emojis of the same color to define the folder. For example, Olivia helped me select a red apple for my red folder, a blue raindrop for my blue folder, and a lemon for my yellow folder. Of course, the rainbow folder features a rainbow emoji.
  5. Organize the color-coded apps in each folder, so that the ones you use the most are featured first.

Why Do I Like this Approach?


It’s a quick, no-brainer, and clutter free way to see all your apps on one page. Even if you did not recognize the apps icon color in the past, it doesn’t take long to learn the system and accessing them for future use proves quick and effective.

How Can I Apply Olivia’s Approach to Her Academics?

Olivia’s approach to organizing her iPhone, provides great information about how she likes to process information. Clearly, Olivia likes to see the “big picture” and enjoys a simultaneous approach that categorizes information. In addition, Olivia loves color, and this can be a useful way to organize multi-step directions and step by step approaches to learning. Here is how I can apply it to academics.

more phone apps

  1. Break the steps required to do math problems into a color coded (rainbow) approach. This is what we did for an order of operations math lesson and this made the activity, fun and memorable for Olivia.
  2. Map out assignments so that Olivia can see the whole approach. Use color to designate any sequence.
  3. Bring color into all assignments and activities. Olivia absolutely loves the Frixion markers and using them really brings the fun factor into our lessons.
  4. Use Frixion markers to underline and annotate readings. If Olivia has reading comprehension questions, she can underline each question a different color. When she finds the lines in her reading that answer a specific question, she can underline it the same color as the question.
  5. When writing, Olivia can use what I call, Color Coded Writing. This is great for any research based writing. Each paragraph is assigned a color. When a student finds information that he or she wants to use in a specific paragraph, the key text is underlined in the same color. 

organizing phone apps

    Allowing students to be the captain of their remedial approach not only makes the process fun and creative, but you will be honoring their most comfortable way of processing. What’s more, you will get them actively involved and invested in the learning process. Maybe you will even find your student’s genius qualities, as I did with Olivia, and start to employ their strategies in your own life.

    Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren

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