Wednesday, January 22, 2014

O-H so organized!

I have found myself becoming more and more organized lately.. on top of the organizational skills I "thought" I had! I think I am finally fine-tuning my preferences as I settle into my classroom more and thought I'd share some of my organization strategies with you. Comment below and let me know what you think and share other strategies for keeping yourself, your students, your classroom, and your life in general [O-H so organized!] :)

One thing I use is a Take Home Binder system with my students. A fellow teacher friend of mine did something similar to this in her first grade classroom a few years ago, and I borrowed the idea and ran with it from there.

This is a cover I made for each of their binders with their names. I do purchase their binders. I like them to be a certain size and of good durability. I have found that parents don't EXACTLY follow class lists when they go shopping [which is fine!] so I pay for their binders on my own. I tried some from the Dollar Tree my first year since they were cheaper... but I paid a higher price to replace them less than halfway into the year -- it's worth the investment in the beginning!

In order to keep parents as informed as possible [I like them to know what's happening in the classroom and I have an Open Door policy for them to contact me at anytime] I have a Communication Log in each child's binder. Parents can write to me at any time and I can do the same. This works great for my classroom management system with the Parent Contact choice ;)
Students also get a clear pocket [I get them at Target at back to school time when they go on sale for $0.50 each] for money & important notes that need to go back and forth. Much safer than anywhere else I have found!
[*note* when purchasing the pockets, purchase some extra.. a few of the zippers have broken and I cannot currently find them at Target!]

During my first year of teaching I placed notebooks in this section. I realized by the end of the year that for many students/parents, most of the notebook was not used. Others needed to use quite a bit! They are also difficult to turn. I decided instead to use loose leaf paper so that more paper can be added if needed, and I can take the rest out at the end of the year!

Of course, every binder also has a Take Home Folder.
Students put their papers that need to go home in here each night.
I also have clear page protectors in their binders [not pictured]. I put in their spelling lists, Bible verses for memory, Speller's Choice menus, and any other important papers they need for studying/schoolwork. This is a great way to provide them tools they need to help them and you can differentiate it for each child! One student has difficulty with addition and subtraction, so one of her clear pages has a set of Touch Points for addition homework and a 100s chart for subtraction homework. Just this week they each chose a poem to learn for our upcoming Speech Meet, so I also put their poem in a page protector.
In the packet you see in the folder above, I included a page about our grading policy. Some students [or should I say, some parents] took that out of the packet and placed it in a page protector to have on hand. I am so glad the idea for those dawned on me one day - they are a great organizational tool!
Their binders also include two calendars, one that is a homework log I created to keep them accountable for homework each night, and another calendar that logs their behavior choices each night. These are updated monthly and they write other information on them, such as test dates. I also include student birthdays and holidays for them to see as well :)
My goal with this system is to [hopefully!] teach my students organization and independence. They have everything they need for success at school and know where they can find it because it is always in the same place. They also know exactly what is expected of them and can take responsibility for their homework each night.

To keep myself organized and to make lesson planning as simple as possible to do and understand, I use post-its! For the last two years I have been doing this, I was hand-writing them.... and though it wasn't a ton of writing, it was still a drag. I realized I could accomplish it much faster on the computer, but I still liked my post-it system best. Perusing the amazing universe which is Pinterest, I came across a post about printing onto post-its. I checked it out and it looked SO easy, that I had to try it! After setting up the template in Power Point and laying it out like I wanted...
it was time to try it.......


It REALLY worked! Now, I just plug in my information for each subject and the other stuff [specials/lunch/snack/tutoring] all stays the same.
No more re-writing those things over and over again! I just love it! My only regret is not trying it sooner! Now I want to make a template for every post-it note I'll ever need!

Here's a a link to the post I found via Pinterest with templates so you can create your own post-it planner too! If you choose to make your own, here's what I did:
I just purchased an At-a-Glance planner with a page per day and put the post-its on that so it's reusable. I also use transparent flags at the top for the date so nothing is written into the planner itself and I don't have to buy a new one every year!
I set up my plan book by chunks of time rather throughout the day rather than by subject. It's much easier for me with how my days are set up, and it requires less post-its/space :)
I also printed the template with a very light gray text box so it doesn't appear in case the alignment isn't perfect and on the template page I put a faint note as to what color post it goes in which box so I'll never forget or need to keep checking.
I highly recommend using Power Point to create your plans in. I make a slide per day and just duplicate every slide for less work. I saw a lot of teachers posting about it on TpT and other blogs for creating their documents and resources and when I finally tried it [I was originally using Word] WHAT A DIFFERENCE! It is so much faster and more streamlined to make anything you want!

I'm definitely a font snob, so printing these with cute fonts as opposed to writing them in my boring, sloppy handwriting calms my type-A, OCD so much more! I seriously have a problem, but there is not enough space in cyber world to discuss that....!

I hope I helped you discover some new ways to keep yourself and your classroom "O-H so organized!" or at the very least, got the ball rolling and inspired some new ideas for you. Share them below and let me know what you think! Stay tuned for some fun stuff coming soon! 

No comments:

Post a Comment