The Course Organizer Routine

"Course Organizer Routine manual cover photo"

Through use of the Course Organizer Routine, a teacher helps students understand the "big picture" of the course and how units fit within it. The routine helps teachers launch a course and create a learning community, including identifying critical concepts that will be central to understanding the course content, establishing rituals that will be used throughout the course to guide discussions and learning, agreeing on values that serve as the basis of classroom interactions, and introducing the ways the teacher and students will communicate about progress throughout the course.

Studies show that the use of the Course Organizer Routine helps teachers and students keep the big ideas in mind and focus their attention to understand important relationships. Instruction results in learning more about the big picture and less in trying to cover large amounts of information.

Teachers using the routine spent more time introducing major course ideas, concepts, themes, and routines to students than did comparison teachers who did not learn the routine. Students with LD answered an average of three "big idea" course questions correctly at the beginning of the year. The students with LD in the class that used the Course Organizer Routine correctly answered an average of eight "big idea" questions by the end of the course, while the students with LD in the class that did not use the Course Organizer Routine answered an average of four of the "big idea" questions correctly.

Please note that professional development, coaching, and infrastructure support are essential components to effective implementation of SIM instructional tools and interventions. It is highly recommended that you work with a SIM professional developer. Please email to learn more.

Author(s): B. Keith Lenz, Jean B. Schumaker, Donald D. Deshler, and Janis A. Bulgren

Publication Info: Edge Enterprises, 1998

This product is published by Edge Enterprises, Inc.  Professional development is recommended, see the SIM Event page for sessions.


  • Course Organizer Routine Research (.pdf)
  • Research Articles
    • Lenz, B.K., & Adams, G. (2006). Planning practices that optimize curriculum access. In D.D. Deshler & J.B. Schumaker (Eds.), Teaching adolescents with disabilities: Accessing the general education curriculum (pp. 35-78). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. This chapter reviews issues related to planning for students with disabilities, different kinds of planning interventions, and studies on teacher planning, including a review of lesson planning, unit planning, and course planning research.

An accessible version of the documents on this site will be made available upon request. Please contact the KU CRL Professional Development Research Institute, at to request the document be made available in an accessible format.