Sunday, June 1, 2014

Classroom Organization

Welcome to week 1 of Diggin' Into Next Year. A fantastic group of bloggers will be getting together once a week this summer to reflect and share about important components of structuring student learning. 

Organize my classroom!

A few years ago organizational headache number one was student supplies. After my head nearly exploded over pencils, I knew I had to do something. This is when I started my number system.

The clips you see on my number list are my classroom jobs. This is another organizational tip for the unorganized and forgetful! I have 4 jobs in my classroom: Person of the day, Helper 1, Helper 2, Caboose. If I need something done, the person of the day takes care of it. If the person of the day is unavailable or needs assistance, helper 1 can assist. The person of the day is also the line leader. After their turn being line leader, the helpers line up behind the line leader and hold the doors, the caboose turns off the lights when we leave. These jobs change daily.

At the beginning of the year when the kids bring in their supplies, it's really overwhelming. I try to limit the number of things they put in their desks, so I created little cubbies. All their markers, glue sticks, crayons, scissors, headphones, and erasers go into their cubbies. (I keep pencils separate). I ask parents to label every item (except individual crayons) with the students' class number. I explain that I know it makes me seem crazy, but it really is incredibly helpful! I sharpen 3 pencils for each student and put their numbers on them. Every so often I sharpen a new set, number them, and pass them out. If a student brings a pencil from home, They are supposed to bring it to me to get it numbered right away. This system works really well for me because it is easy to maintain, and there is never any question about who left their glue stick in the middle of the floor, because we know whose it is! When pencils need to be sharpened, they put them in my red pencil cup. I sharpen them and put them into their cubbies.

Another former organizational headache was center storage. One summer I decided to get things organized in a practical way. I got some cardboard magazine holders and started sorting by skills: consonant sounds, short vowels, long vowels, high-frequency words, blends, word endings, counting, basic facts, making ten, subtracting, equality, etc. Now I know right where to find any activity I'm looking for, and I don't forget what I have.

Functional, Not Very Fancy!

Guided reading books have always been another challenge. Specifically, how to have them organized for students to read independently after they've been read in group. Like most teachers, I always had individual browsing boxes. The biggest nightmare with these was collecting the books, but that was just the beginning. Finding places to store them, students trading books, students using them as extra personal storage for all kinds of things. The problems seemed endless.

This year I switched from individual browsing boxes to FLUENT baskets. I have 6 FLUENT baskets. Each one is labeled with a letter F-L-U-E-N-T. One fluent basket gets used for each of my 6 student tables. We rotate them, but they are all pretty similar.

After reading a book in a reading group, I put a copy of it into each basket. I also put in some of my personal books that are 'just right' for each group. I leave it up to the students to find 'their' books. This year one of my lower students had her own basket. One problem I ran into was that my very high readers had to have some books in the baskets, and then other kids would think they should read the really hard books. If I have that situation again next year, I think that the one VERY discrepant reading group might have their own basket in a different location. These baskets have been so much easier than managing individual boxes.

I hope you are enjoying reading all about how we organize our classrooms! Don't forget to follow me around the web!

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  1. At my school, our admin requires that each student have their own box, and that they may only have books in their box that they are able to read independently. It makes it easier for each student to have their own box.

  2. I love using classroom jobs! It helps with keep the classroom running smoothly, behavior management, and classroom management! Each student in my room has a job at all times, and since there are so many, we only rotate jobs once every 2 weeks. I like the idea of have students listed and putting the job next to the student. I currently have jobs listed, and place a student next to a job.

    Theresa @ True Life I'm a Teacher!


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