Organizational Tips?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by leighbball, May 18, 2008.

  1. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    May 18, 2008

    Year after year when we write our "new school year resolutions", organization is always at the top of the list for everyone. So...in honor of that, what are some organizational tips you have to share with those of us who seem to be organizationally-challenged? :D

    My tip is to have bins for each day of the week and make copies of lessons and activities for the week in the bins. I also try to do my lesson plans by the end of the previous week, but that doesn't always happen!
     
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  3. cMcD

    cMcD Groupie

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    I have stacking trays behind my desk labeled for subject (writing, spelling, reading, math, word wall, language arts, etc). I photocopy by the chapter, paper clip the worksheets and/or graphic organizers and put them in the trays. I put them in chronological order so I can grab it and hand it out.

    I put almost everything in 3-ring binders.

    I invested in a label maker. :)
     
  4. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    yes, a label maker is a wonderful thing to have! so is an electric stapler:)
     
  5. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 18, 2008

    I'll do the best I can, leigh!

    I have a binder for all my lessons. I also use the tubs for every day of the week, and I add any manipulatives or other stuff I might need for that particular day.

    I also color code each subject; red-Reading, Green-Math, Yellow-SS, and Orange-Science.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm not shy about using the recycle bin. If I don't need it now and won't be needing it for the foreseeable future, in it goes!

    I have an RB--Random Binder--on my desk. It's where I put all those miscellaneous papers that I need to hang onto but don't have any other place to put. I keep copies of my time-off requests, sub contact info, observations/evals, handouts from the district, etc. I also keep a small amount of lined paper in there where I write down all my neat ideas for projects and all my to-do lists.

    I find that keeping all these odds and ends in one spot has worked wonders to de-clutter my desk!
     
  7. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    May 18, 2008

    Cassie, I love the idea of a Random Binder. Those are the papers that tend to end up piled on my desk for months. I'll have to do that!
     
  8. cMcD

    cMcD Groupie

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    I ditto the random binder. I always lose those papers in my piles.
     
  9. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Use in going and out going bins. When students turn in an English assignment it goes in the bin marked English it is also the same color as their English work book, which is blue. Spelling is yellow and all spelling papers go in the yellow spelling bin which also is labeled spelling and their spelling file folder is yellow. The green bin is science and etc. Reading is red. You don't have to sort all subjects using this system. Students sort as they hand in work. All student file folders are labeled with the correct subject and laminated. Add student's name in the top right hand cover at the last minute. This also helps to keep students organized. Each student has a planner and take home folder. You will need two take home folders because one will only last half a year. We use our school colors and mascot. White file folder with the red mascot for the first half of the year and a red file folder with a white mascot the last half.

    A container to put your pencils and pens in.

    A coaster to sit your water bottle on so it doesn't drip water on your desk.

    A waste basket under your desk. Put the big waste basket away from your desk and avoid being by the student's germs. Also have a box of tissues for you to use. The student's box should be close to the classroom waste basket.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 18, 2008

    I thought of a few more!

    I have an in basket and an out basket dedicated solely to student work. The in basket sits on the front corner of my desk, and I train students early in the year to turn in all their work there. Don't set it elsewhere on my desk, don't hand it to me personally...it will get lost! When I'm ready to grade, I grab the basket, grade the assignments, enter scores in my gradebook, and group student papers with paper clips into class bundles. These clipped bundles go in period order in the out basket, which sits on the same corner of the desk, but closer to me. This way, I avoid random piling (which I hate!). I just grab the top bundle and have a student pass back papers during work time or bellwork.

    I have a "student center" (which is really a bookshelf) where I keep student supplies: stapler, tape, 3-hole punch, kleenex, huge bottle of hand sanitizer, crayons, markers, colored pencils, extra copies of Cornell note paper (I pre-print these since most of my students can't afford to supply their own paper). I like the student center because it prevents students from using my supplies, which they get all germy and sometimes forget to return to me. I train students at the start of the year to look for what they need at the student center first, before asking me.

    I feel like my high school classroom should be fairly autonomous, and these two tips help it be that way. Whatever the students can do for themselves means less work for me.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 18, 2008

    Cassie-I love the Random Binder idea and the "student center"
     
  12. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 18, 2008

    *Get binders and sheet protectors for all your master files. Do either 1 of 2 things:
    -Get a small binder for each unit you teach.
    -Get a large binder with dividers for each unit for each course you teach.
    -On top of that I also have a Misc. Desk binder like Casiees on my desk. Along with a Student Binder, and I also have several PD binders.
    -I use a desk apprentice to hold all my office supplies I use frequently (I only keep extras in my desk), along with a vertical file tray, and several small containers to organize my desk.
    -My 2 file trays holds folders labeled: block 1 to be graded, block 2 to be returned, for each block.
    -I keep a small file drawer for each class that is locked that contains already ran off and ready to be handed out worksheets.

    For make up work and extra hand-outs I have a large file box with files labeled 1-31 and last month. I keep all extra handouts for each day we have school in that folder, I also keep a short list of what we did in class that day, as well as all papers/assignments handed out or assigned and homework.

    I suggest having one place to turn student work into, that way it doesn't work--for me thats on a tray on my desk in my office.

    I have a side board on which I have a spot for each class' daily agenda, homework, as well as due dates. I also have an office calendar put on the wall to list all school events and important events.
     
  13. Calliope

    Calliope Companion

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    May 18, 2008

    At the beginning of the year I have two huge 3 ring binders. I put tabs for my A day classes in one and B day classes in the other. On the first day of school each student fills out a contact sheet, & I put them in alphabetical order in their class's section. After that, any behavior document, parent contact, "love note", 504 mods, spec ed mods, note from parents, etc. is put behind that student's contact sheet. So if I have to look up anything on that student I have it all in the same spot, right with parent contact info. If I have a parent teacher conference all that stuff is right together. At the end of the semester, I pull each class's stuff out, put my gradebook sheets for the semester on top, staple the whole thing together, & throw it in a file.

    When I take up homework I put it in a folder. I write the class name, assignment, & date in pencil. That way each class's stuff is all together, & I know what I've graded at a glance. Each student has to turn in a piece of paper. If they don't have their homework, they write a quick note saying they don't have their homework, sign it, & date it ("love notes"). Those love notes have answered a lot of questions in P/T conferences & stop those "you lost my homework" arguments dead in their tracks.

    In my grade book (a 3 ring binder), I have a two pocket folder that clips in. Any make-up work goes in that folder. I drove myself crazy trying to keep up with make-up work because it was separated from the rest of the class. Instead I just started keeping all make-up work in the same place -- with my gradebook, so if I have a missing assignment I check the m/u work folder to see if it's been turned in.

    Oh yeah, and I have a basket on a table in the back of the room with a stapler, three-hole punch, tape, hand sanitizer, and tissue for the students. I have my own on my desk, and they are not allowed to touch mine. I found out the first year that students find many creative ways to break staplers and other office supplies.
     
  14. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    May 18, 2008

    I totally love that idea, and I may steal it for my 3rd graders! :) Thanks for sharing!!!
     
  15. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    May 18, 2008

    I love the ideas given so far. As a "new" old elementary teacher, I have learned a few things. My third graders (student teaching) taught me that 1) they can break ANY pencil sharpener, electric, battery, or manual; 2) there is NEVER enough paper to last the week; and 3) Mama never hears the teacher's side of things until several phone calls and notes have transpired and Mama, student, teacher, and Admin are together in the conference room (and teacher has documentation, of course). My first graders taught me that 1) they, too, can break any pencil sharpener; 2) no matter how many times I say "it's YOUR responsibility to remember your [homework folder, conduct sheet, fill-in-the-blank]," it is always still Mama's fault; and 3) you can NEVER have enough Kleenex and Sanitizer! Most of my organizational ideas come from years in the business field (and the accompanying collection of office supplies), so please bear with me.

    That being said, here are my (hopefully) helpful tips:

    1. I have two desktop incline sorters. I have one I keep on my desk, and it contains my "working" folders for each student (the lessons I am developing for next week). I have another I keep on my table (actually an extra student desk) up front by the board. It contains folders labeled and color-coded for each subject. Each folder contains the lesson plans and worksheets, etc. for the current week.


    2. I have several generic file folders: To Be Copied; To Be Graded; To Be Entered; To Be Returned; To Be Filed; HR (human resources papers), etc.

    3. ALL of my file folders are laminated (I do a few at a time, so the librarians still like me) ;) I label the generic folders BEFORE lamination. Because I have not assembled a full year's worth of files, the others tend to be labeled after lamination.

    4. I have several binders in which I am collecting "stuff" for future use

    5. I sharpen all pencils each evening (usually while watching the boob tube). Students are NOT ALLOWED to touch my sharpener (or my desk, unless I send them for something).

    6. Each day before I leave school, I make sure that my desk is clean and organized for the day to come. Papers to be copied the next morning go home with me, because I copy them before I get to my classroom in the mornings. I generally grade papers at home, too. I make "shopping" or "to-do" lists in a steno pad for each subject each day. These contain short notes about the lesson to come, papers needed, manipulatives, etc. I generally can get an entire day's worth on one page.

    7. Each student has a number (I only have one class, so this works well). I have a 31-day expanding file sorter (see it here: http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/391181/Office-Brand-Recycled-Expanding-File-Letter/)
    All papers are organized by number. As I enter each item into the computer grading system, I place it in the "to be filed" folder. During boob tube time, I "file" the papers in the expanding file. Then, on Wednesdays (when graded papers go home to be signed), I print out their grade report, grab their papers, staple them together & hand them to the student. It's easier for me that way.

    8. This is probably only applicable to elementary: I have an 8.5 X 11" poster on the wall. On it is a picture of Dubbya Bush with the caption "Tell it to the President." I don't remember where I stole the idea from (probably here), but it definitely keeps the tattling down!

    9. My folders are color-coded. Blue is for literacy (reading, language arts, spelling & writing. Green is for science. Red is for math. Yellow is for social studies. Manila (uncolored) is for student files (kept in a locked file cabinet). Luckily, I have some pink folders from a previous stash, and they are used for administrative items.

    10. All of my binders are white, D-ring varieties with clear plastic "sleeves" on the front and spine for labeling. They vary in size.

    11. I also invested in a label-maker -- I love it!

    Hello, my name is Patti, and I am an office-supply addict....
     
  16. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Wait until you see my millions of pens once I take a picture of my desk. I am an office supply addict.
     
  17. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    May 19, 2008

    This year, I went to dollar tree & bought a ton of their food storage containers (the square ones that come 4 to a pack). I put alll of my office supplies in my desk in them organized. I always know where everything is (staples, rubber bands, tape, erasers etc). I have kept up with it throughout the year too.

    I am giving up my teacher desk next year. I am going to get one of those huge rolling organizers w/ the three pull out drawers to hold everything. I am hoping I can keep organized without the desk lol. I just need more space in my classroom, and it seems selfish to keep it (especially when I spend so little time there).
     
  18. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I also give my students numbers. They are on their lockers, we line up by them, I use numbers for everything. I even give them textbooks with their number on it. That way I can always tell which one is missing or if someone has someone elses.

    I also sharpen pencils (I have my daughter do it after school to earn extra money). I grade each day. I find if I don't I get bogged down and get overwelmed.

    I keep a journal that is divided into sessions. I write little notes to myself about students in each section. It looks nice, it is easy to carry, and I take notes in it during phone calls to parents and student conferences.

    I type my lesson plans on a template. I keep them in a three ring binder. If I don't do a lesson, I can cut and paste it onto next weeks.

    We spend five minutes at the end of the day looking for secret trash. This is special trash that I reward whoever finds it with a sticker. (Usually the kid that is really working.) It is amazing what they pick up.


    I use magazine holders to keep like subject teacher books together. That makes it easier for me to find things.
     
  19. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    The first week I had papers to grade, I used red ink, and one of my 3rd graders tried (but didn't succeed) to change a bad grade. Then, I decided to use different ink colors. Not just red, blue, and green, but also orange, pink, purple, brown and different shades of blue! The kids love em, and they never know what color I will use for grading!

    I'm on the lookout everywhere for "interesting" ink colors! Gotta love the gel pens!
     
  20. cMcD

    cMcD Groupie

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    To keep students from stealing my pens I taped frilly pink flowers to the tops. All of them have stayed in my room. :)

    A. They don't want to take the time to pull the flower off.
    B. I would most likely notice them struggling to get it off.
    C. No one wants to walk around with a pink frilly flower on the top (at least the males).
     
  21. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I have those too, and have yet to have a kid ask to use one or have one come up missing. I'm having a Hawaiian theme next year and I found pencils with hibiscus print. I bought them for my teacher pencils next year.
    I was having problems with my grading pens coming up missing. I didn't know if they were getting stolen, or if I was taking them home, leaving them in purses, etc. Since they are light grey I put my initials on them with marker and put clear tape on top. Now if a kid is using my pens I know right away. They can't claim they got it from home.
     
  22. Falcon Flyer

    Falcon Flyer Companion

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    May 19, 2008

    My principal bought bright green binders for all teachers at school. In them, we put all info about special ed, GT, at-risk, etc. students in our rooms. Sometimes, you have so many kids with labels, it's easy to get mixed up about who's who. It's great to have for meetings with parents or ARDs. I also keep info sheets on kids and AR goals in it.
     
  23. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Red only here!
     
  24. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    I have "Absence Work" laminated posters on the wall labeled Monday - Friday that I fill out for each prep for what was missed each day. I only erase as I hit that day next week. I keep missed handouts in a file bin beneath them. It makes it their responsibility to find their work for whatever day they missed and copy it down. So I only have to write it once. I started out doing missed work sheets each day for each absent student- was way too much work for me!

    I also have a student center for supplies- works great. And I have bins by class period for turning papers in. Once graded and recorded, I have a file bin labeled with hanging folders for each period that I immediately put the papers in. The kids know if there are papers in the hanging files that they can help pass them out. So they look and ask me if they can help give them back anytime something is there. It's great since it keeps my paperflow moving!
     
  25. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    May 19, 2008

    I am not the most organized person...but I am working on it. I am the creative type so too much filing is not a good thing for me...simple is better.

    I have a little container next to my desk for all small papers: hall passes, breakfast order forms, nurse passes, reward coupons, post-it pad.

    I have to order breakfast each day with a little form. The only thing that changes is usually the date so I fill in everythign before making copies.

    I use an emboridery floss container for small office suppies except for my very fave office supply--one of those magnetic paper clip holders.

    for collecting papers...what works for me is having the students turn in the papers only to me. (literally hand it to me). It forces me to put a clip on it and then I place it in the try to correct or enter grades in the grade book. I use the same tray for all classes (I teach 4 classes.) Most teachers would probably go nuts with this system, but its the only thing that works for me. :)

    for makeup work, I write their name on it and staple it to the bulletin board by my desk.

    recycling can for paper by my desk.

    Systems for next year:

    I just read this in a book at Barnes and Noble last night: I will have 31 file folders that I will keep together with a black binder clip. Each of the 31 folders will represent a day of the month. I'll sort papers into the folders according to due dates or when I will throw out the paper if it is just something I feel I should hold on to for awhile.

    I created 5 binders that are organized by unit of our new textbooks. Every resource (worksheet, lesson, etc) has been filed in the binder by chapter and lesson (ie. Chapter 2 lesson 4) so everything to teach a particular skill is in the same place....no more searching, pulling out every book, etc. Its all together. Plus when I run off student copies , teh students will know what lesson it corresponds to if they need help with a particular assignment or want to organize their binder because they each have the chapter/lesson in the corner. This summer I am going to attempt to plan at least the first semester's lessons so I will have everything all together in one binder and this will help keep me from having papers all over my desk at home too! Plus we will have several new teachers next year and I can just pull out everything from a particular section of the binder and copy it for them so they have helpful resources too. :)
     
  26. maroki

    maroki Comrade

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    I'm an organization and supply junkie!! My husband gets me at least one set of new pens/markers every couple of months. Here are some things I do to keep my room/closets organized:

    (1) I use a 3 drawer organizer (the 12"x12" kind that can hold scrapbook paper) on top of my desk, and that is the only place that holds paper. I keep all attendance folders, binders, etc. in the top drawer, daily behavior sheets and records in the middle drawer, and my bus list/important class information and extra pads of paper in the bottom drawer.

    (2) I have a large desk calendar I keep on top of my desk, with everything of importance on it. The calendar is color coded, so I can glance at it and see what I have going on for the day/week. (Pink highlighter for meetings, blue for no school, etc.)

    (3) I invested in a label-maker, and have used it everywhere. My cabinets are all labeled, as are my binders and personal library sources.

    (4) I keep all my class information and emergency contact information in a bright orange folder right by my back door. Every time we have a fire drill or anything where we need to leave the building hastily, I grab the folder.

    (5) I have all my extra student supplies in clear tubs with lids in my closet. I keep them closest to the door and at chest height for easy access.

    (6) I keep all my resources in giant binders. Each binder is labeled with a theme or a subject, and I have sub-divided folders within each binder. Whenever I grab a resource out of the binder, I either file it back right away or put it in my "to be filed" tub so it doesn't get lost.

    (7) I keep all my copies and lessons in my small filing cabinet (right by my desk) labeled under day of the week and subject.
     
  27. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    What do you find works best... Binders or hanging files?

    I think for next year, I am going to organize my literature units (connections, inferring, etc) by using those Sterilite drawer units from Target or whatever. Each drawer will be for its own unit. In the unit drawer I'll put a folder with the book I'll use and any related masters (Venn diagrams, making connections pages, etc). Then, when I'm ready to teach a book, I can grab the folder, make my copies, and go! (I'll probably put an inventory list of the books I own on each drawer, so I know which ones I'll need to put on hold at the library).
     
  28. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    I need you to come organize my classroom! :D
     
  29. SuperMissM

    SuperMissM Rookie

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    Im gonna try this with my pencils that the kids can borrow... but yeah... my boys would borrow them. They wear my team-mates Mrs. Potato Head's earrings and hats to class... oi


    Some ideas I have/ or my team mate has had:

    I have While You Were Out folders and folders for the gifted kids that are out one day a week. I print out a sheet, give the sheet and folder to a kid who wants to be a buddy. They fill in the work for the day and collect the worksheets. Then we leave it on that kids desk.

    I have turn in baskets with large binder clips to clip a notecard label to it. We just label the basked with what should go in it and the kids are responsible to get it there. Then I paperclip and put it in my correct pile.

    My team mate has a binder with sheet protectors with a copy of each kids emergency card and any other important papers. She keeps late slips, parent notes, permission slips, refferals and nurse slips in the sheet protector!!
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2008
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't like hanging folders at all, but I seem to be stuck with them. I don't have enough room for all the binders I need!

    :(

    I'm trying to organize my files over the summer, so hopefully I'll be able to do away with the hangy things once and for all. We'll see.
     
  31. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Folders. I have them color coded by subject, and each drawer holds similar folders. Ex: Language Arts/Spelling/Vocab, Math/Science, Art/Music. I tried to do binders, but I have waaaaaaay too many subjects. If I have a phtotcopied book, I'll put that in a binder, though.

    I LOVE this idea! How fantastic. I may try this this year!
     
  32. maroki

    maroki Comrade

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    I love both of them for different uses.

    I really like hanging files for daily work and copies that I already have made. I have 5 files for each day in my filing cabinet: morning work, science, social studies, math, and writing. (Reading is seperate and I use a different hanging file folder box for that.) Each subject is a different color and is labeled and in the order I use them during the day.

    I also love hanging files for huge units that I've already copied or prepared. I have general "science" and "social studies" files where I put all of the copies/lessons/activities I prepare at the beginning of the unit. When I'm ready to use them within the next week, I just move them out of the general folder and into the specific subject folder under the day of the week though.

    For resources, I love using binders. I keep all my bound resource books together (although I have considered tearing them apart and filing them in binders, but haven't been able to make myself destroy the books yet), but all loose papers and copied resources I keep in binders labeled by subject and then concept. I have 12-15 3" binders right now, and they are stuffed as full as they can go. They do take up a lot of space, but I have found they are the easiest way to store my resources. (I used to have them in hanging files, but I found I didn't use/access them as much, so that was just a waste of space.)
     
  33. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    May 23, 2008

    Here's an idea that I forgot I had-that happens a lot. This year, I'm going to make a 'graphic organizer station', where I'll have a classroom set of each graphic organizer I use pre-copied. They will be in file folders, in a file-folder-holder. When I suddenly realize that a ven diagram would work great in this moment, I can walk over, grab them and pass them out. No more last minute runs to the copy machine, and a visual reminder to help those students that need to sort things out using a graphic.

    This is my collection of graphic organizers (I will only be selecting a few of these to have on hand):
    http://www.realclassroomideas.com/65.html
     
  34. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    May 23, 2008

    Organization has been the greatest key to my success (and sanity).
    As a professed neat freak, my room is CLEAN and ORGANIZED. My kids clean desks once weekly. They turn in all papers in a paper stacker (I don't know what they are called, but we call them that)- the plastic stacking trays. Once all assignments are in, I paperclip them together and move them down from the top to the "grade" stacker.
    I have a hanging folder container that I fill with any copies I have made for the week (in order of anticipated use).
    My kids owe me a minute of recess for everything on the floor at the end of the day (they even get my staples).
    All papers are touched (hopefully) only once- filed, recycled or in a "can't do now" stack on yet another paper stacker on my desk.
    Organization is the fuel that keeps me sane.
     

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