Saturday, October 22, 2016

Five Organization Tips for the Elementary Classroom

Have you read the bestseller The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I did last summer and my house and my classroom have really benefited. But teachers need more organization tips than the Japanese guru Marie Kondo offers in her book. So here are my favorite tips I've implemented this year.

1. Extra glue caps - this idea came from our STEM lab teacher. You just collect the glue caps as you throw away old used glue sticks. And then when you find one that has lost its cap you don't have to crawl around on the floor looking for it. Just grab one from the basket! As some of my fourth graders said, "That's genius!"

2. I like to keep my books organized by type - board books, bilingual books, non fiction, etc. My students never used to know which bin my books went in until this year when I finally color coded them. If it has a pink sticker it goes in the bin with the pink sticker. 

3. I also color coded our interactive notebooks. Each class has a different color sticker in the corner and then each of my small groups of 4 have a number. Then I use our Kagan partner mats to assign which student in each group will collect the notebooks and put them up - that way each groups' books stay together and are easier to get out the next time. If one of them does get out of order the color and number help me figure out where it goes. With over 200 notebooks this saves a LOT of time!

4. Pencils used to be a struggle but now I keep it simple by training the students to put broken pencils in one cup and grab one from the other cup. No more "Can I sharpen my pencil?" When the needs sharpening cup gets full I either do it or get an eager helper to do it for me.

5. I get more names on papers with this little sign that reminds students to take a minute and make sure they are ready to turn in their paper. The key to this is to teach and model to the students exactly how to stop, read the sign, look at their paper, and then put their paper in the basket. But the best part is that it teaches students to be reflective and prevents (most) kids from rushing through their work.

What are your favorite organization hacks? Share in the comments below!

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