I don't know about you, but I love seeing other teachers' classrooms. I get so many classroom organizational ideas from colleagues, Pinterest, and Instagram. Today I thought I'd share some of my favorite organizational ideas I've implemented in my classroom.
First up are my monthly read alouds. I use Ikea magazine files for each month of the school year. When it's a new month I simply take the books out of the file and place them in the rain gutter underneath my whiteboard. Throughout the month I read the books to the class and then scoop them up and put them away at the end of the month. A couple students actually really like helping with this at the beginning of the month and since it's so easy they can do it for me flawlessly.
One of the first jobs students have in the morning is to "shop for books" from our classroom library. They get their book boxes off the of the shelf and pick out some books they are interested in. Their book boxes are actually ice cube bins from Walmart. At the time they were a little over a dollar a piece and they've lasted a couple of years now. I number my students so they are able to be used year after year.
On Fridays we have "Friday Choice" in the afternoons where students get to pick a preferred activity if they have turned in all of their work for the week (including homework and library books) and have made smart choices. For those that have not turned in their work it is a time for them to complete the work and for those that have not made smart choices it is a time for them to fill out a reflection or owe some time thinking about their decisions.
We have one of the school iPad carts on Friday afternoons so iPads have been a popular choice this year. We also have games, puzzles, art projects, and more. I love seeing the students interacting with each other and solving problems while playing games and working on creative activities like art. To organize the many activities, I bought canvas bins from Target and hot glued labels onto the front for the different subjects. The students are really good about keeping the items in the right bins, as they know that if they don't, Friday Choice will not happen.
I also use canvas bins to organize my math manipulatives and volunteer activities. I have a parent helper who comes in to work with students in reading groups and I leave the directions and materials in the bin for her. I also have a classroom aide that comes in a couple days a week to work with students and her materials are in a different bin.
When I first started using student cubbies I numbered them with labels. Eventually the labels started to peel and look gross, so I now use binder clips with the students numbers written on them. I love this idea because, for example, this year I don't have a student that is #28 or #29 in class, so I simply take off their clips. I also had #25 move to another school, so I took off her clip. Now when my parent helper is passing out papers for the entire class, she knows not to put one in those cubbies. On Wednesday afternoon the parent helper (did I mention how much I LOVE parent helpers?!) staples all of the papers together and the students take them home in their Thursday Folders the next day.
When it comes to student supplies, I like everything out on the top of the desks. It seems to cut down on lost pencils, erasers, etc. Inside the group bin I use plastic cups to organize the different materials. On the bottom of the markers I use a Sharpie to color code them. If we find a marker on the floor we can easily see which group it belongs to. Markers, highlighters, scissors, and pencils all have students names written on them.
I love my Monday through Friday bins from Lakeshore. When I make copies and plan ahead of time, I stick all of the activities in the corresponding day I'll be teaching them. I found that the folders that came with the bins weren't working for me though, so I quickly moved to green cardstock. The cardstock separates the weeks. I've copied homework for the rest of the year at this point, and it goes home on Fridays. So in my Friday bin I have the homework separated by weeks with the green cardstock. I love having things done WAY ahead of time!
When it is time to get ready for the next day of teaching, I simply grab the items out of my Monday through Friday bin and stack them in a wire holder for the day in the order I will teach them. These items are ready to go for tomorrow. Below you can see an absent folder is ready to go for a student who was not at school today. I leave the folder on their desk and when students hand out papers they know to include the absent folders on the desk. At the end of the day I collect the absent folder and keep it in my wire rack so that I can go over the items with the students when they (hopefully) return the next day. Want the absent folder cover? Check out my blog post where you can snag it for free. Glue it on a folder and laminate!
There are a lot of things that get piled on my desk throughout the day. Students are handing in random things like yearbook order forms, late slips, and more. Throughout the day I put everything in my blue "To Do" bin that hangs out on the top of my printer. If there's something that needs to go up to the office (like the yearbook money or late slips), I put them right in front of my printer in a stack. Every time I go up to the office I grab that stack of items to take with me.
At the end of the day my rule is that I can't go home until that To Do bin is empty. Throughout the day if I have a free minute I will work on To Do bin items like putting papers back in my filing cabinet. I love that it keeps me on top of things because there are so many forms and papers that come our way as teachers.
Finally, I thought I'd share an easy way to let others know where your class is at when you leave the room. It seems there's always a student out at speech when it's time to go to computer lab or a staff member looking for us when we're in an assembly. I have a metal door so I hang a laminated piece of paper with the places we could be on it using a magnet. I put a clothespin at the top of the magnet and a student moves the clothespin to where we are and hangs the sheet on the outside of the door on our way out. Easy!
I hope you've enjoyed taking a peek into my classroom. Make sure to head over to my blog to check out my Birthday Giveaway where you can win some great prizes!