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AN ORGANIZED CLASSROOM
I cannot express enough how important having an organized classroom is to me. It is important for me to spend some time before the school year starts getting my classroom organized for the coming year. It doesn’t always stay that way, but with some systems in place is can be maintained.
There are desks to set up, bins to fill & label, furniture to place strategically + more to organize around my classroom, materials to get ready, and a curriculum map to write/plan to keep me organized so I don’t forget to teach anything. 😉
I’ve been teaching for 8 years and let me tell you that I am still learning new ways to better organize my time and my blocks of instruction. I am not perfect and things do get a bit chaotic at times, yet having my classroom organized helps me and my students in many ways. Today I will share some of the things I do to stay organized and what things I plan on changing.
Today, I will share a few of the things I do to stay organized through the year. I like to get most things ready before the school year starts.
1. Classroom Books
I really like the way I have organized my hundreds (probably thousands) of books in my room. I have 5 systems that keep things organized so piles of books don’t start appearing.
1. SMALL BINS – I have small bins of leveled readers lined up on the shelves above my library. After my assessments are done at the beginning of the year, I place a clothespin clip on the side of the bin that corresponds to that students current reading level. That way they know where to find their “just-right” books all year long. I love that I can easily move them along the levels.
2. CLASSROOM LIBRARY – Below the leveled readers, I have our general picture book library, where I have organized books into fiction/non-fictions, chapter books, magazines, and according to theme. I have a label on the front of each bin so students know where to find a type of book and where to return it later.
3. PERSONAL BOOK BINS – Every child in my rooms has their own personal book bin on the window ledge above my small bins. This is where they keep their books for our Drop Everything And Read time. They each have 3 “just-right” books inside, as well as 3 of their choice. They get to switch their books once a week before reading with me at the guided reading table.
4. TEACHER BOOKS – I am very lucky to have a large shelving unit above my kiddos cubbies. This is where I use fill boxes from Ikea (I think they are 5 for $2) and have all of my picture books organized into a different box for my favorite authors (Jan Brett, Mo Willems, Nick Bland, etc.), the different holidays (from Back-to-school to Summer), and themes (Weather, Animals, Canada, Friendship, Family, etc.). These are the books I don’t want in our general rotation all year long because I use them during our daily read alouds and for teaching lessons. The kids love that there are new books put out every month too!
5. GUIDED READING BOOKS – My school has a leveled book room where we can grab the books we need to teach to small groups. I then have those books in a separate book bin (Ikea again) behind my rainbow table for each group.
2. Students Supplies
I have a bit of a control problem when it comes to student supplies, but my goal is always to have our supplies last as long as possible. I like to have 2 colored containers on each table group that has our most used classroom materials – all the markers, pencils, and glue sticks. That way they are visible to my students and I and we work together to keep caps on and pencils sharp! In desks, we keep our crayons, pencil crayons, scissors, erasers, and binder.
5. Classroom Supplies
This year I started to organize all the “extra” supplies in bins on a separate shelving unit. I LOVE how this system works…we always know where everything is and we don’t have to go searching for things in our desks! Please tell me you have had the dried glue bottle or “I forgot to close the cap” moments like I have!!?? With this system…no more dried glue and no more ruler sword fights either 😉
4. WOW Work Bulletin Board & Portfolios
I use student portfolios in my classroom to organize and showcase the “BEST” work my kiddos produce throughout the year. It’s great to have ready to show parents during my student-led conferences and it’s a great keepsake at the end of the year! If you are interested in making these, you can read my full post HERE with all the details & freebies.
I use my WOW work bulletin board to display the work my students complete that they worked hard on. I love how easy it is to switch the work with clothespins, instead of staples. Thanks to Pinterest for the inspiration.
5. Bulletin Board Letters
Loving this system I saw my colleague do using mini filling boxes. I decided to use cue cards cut and wrote the letters of the alpahebt on the cards. Then placed the cards and bulletin board letters inside these little plastic containers I found at the Dollar Tree. It is so each to grab the letters you need and put them back. They stack nicely on a shelf and don’t take up much space. I have 4 boxes full. 🙂
5. Mailboxes & Student Numbers
Love this mailbox from Scholastic. It keeps all the notices to go home in my convenient place. I have clip with their student numbers under each mailbox so it is ready to go for the next year (thanks Pinterest for the idea). Love using student numbers as well…my kiddos know their numbers off by heart and it’s great for mixing up groups and organizing materials.
6. Curriculum Map
I use a curriculum map to plan out my entire year. Below is a page from my map that I used to teach first grade. It keeps my weeks organized with all subjects and on track so I don’t forget to teach anything. Things do change along the way, but having a plan like this helps a lot. I also have a bin behind my desk that is separated by week and inside are all my words and phonics/sight word activities for that week. If you are interested in a blank curriculum map, you can grab it HERE.
There’s always a few improvements to be made each year…something that drives me crazy and I just don’t have time to tackle until the end of the year or beginning or during the summer. This summer, I will be searching for better ways of organizing…Pinterest and other teacher blogs will hopefully have some inspiration!
1. Student Work
This is where I keep all the work we finish that I don’t keep for their portfolios, send home, or keep in duo-tangs or binders. It becomes one massive, overflowing heap of work that takes us a few hours to organize at the end of the year. I have my students hand it out on desks, then I stuff it all in a folder and send home with the other end of the year stuff. I’m looking for suggestions here…
2. Sentence Strips
I have tons of sentence strips that I use for all of my poems of the week. I organize each month into one clip, but it becomes quite heavy for the hanging system I have right now on my cupboard walls. They always end up on the floor due to the weight, which drives me crazy. I’m thinking about buying those boxes that hold bulletin board borders and putting them in there, but then there’s a space issue of where to put those. Another project to tackle…
3. Focus Wall – LOVE love love my new Focus wall.
I recently switched from a full calendar wall to this focus wall. I like that it can change easily with clips and there’s room for me to change my anchor charts and weekly words. I have started to collect and organize a bin with small anchor chart posters for the various math and reading topics. However, I have a lot to still collect and make this summer. I plan on creating anchor chart posters for all my yearly themes, as well as all the phonics skills I teach thoughout the year.
4. Math Bins for Centers
I have all my math manipulative organized into separate bins with labels, which I love because all my kiddos know where everything is all year and it stays organized and mess free! (sorry no pictures) But next year I am going to start incorporating math centers into my math block. I will be teaching a grade 1/2 combined class next year, and teaching 2 grades of math frightens me some….so with centers organized for groups to work on when I’m working with another group will be super helpful. There are tons of great organizational ideas I have seen out there for having math centers and I can’t wait to start this new adventure.