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Teacher Week '13: Organization!

Today's link up in the Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week '13 is all about getting organized so we can keep our heads on straight this year! 

Every teacher has little secrets about how they stay organized and it's hard to put it into words.  For instance...my closet looks like this:
  But I know where everything is!  
Not really.  
I hate this.  
I shoved everything into my closet on the last 2 days of school because my daughter was graduating from high school and I was cray cray over that.  Now I'm suffering the consequences as I try to organize for a new year.  

Seriously though, here are a few tips I have found (through trial and a lot of error) that might make your year a little more...sane. :) 

Personal Classroom Supplies:
I have tables so my kiddos do not have a desk to keep their supplies in.  I use to keep a "community" tray in the middle of the table (in Kinder) but in First Grade we like to keep our own supplies. 
I set my tables up like this: 
  1.  Each kiddo brings their own plastic pencil box.  They keep their crayons, pencil (Ticonderoga-nothin' else), markers, and colored pencils in it.  
2. Glue and scissors are "classroom supplies" and they are kept in the middle caddy.
3.  Usually there are name tags on the table so it's easy to see where everyone should keep their stuff.  I took this pic in the summer...no name tags.  Sorry!
Here are the name tags I use.  I tape them to the table with clear packing tape. "Easy Start" packing tape is best.  It comes off easily and I can change out name tags often.  Which I do!

I packed as many resources as I could into a name tag so my kids would have everything they need at their table.

Book Boxes:  I love teaching Daily 5!  I really love that it introduced me to Book Boxes.  My kiddos keep their reading materials in individual book boxes from Ikea.  They check out books from the library, our classroom library, and individual readers from small group lessons.  They also keep their weekly fluency pages inside and a bookmark.   These book boxes are only $1.99 for 5!  At the end of the year I let them take them home, they love that!

What to do with all their STUFF??

We create a lot of stuff in our room. Daily math practice, word work, and just random projects that don't go home in our weekly work packet (I will get to that!).  My MUST HAVE item in my classroom are student cubbies. 
They come in really handy on FUN FRIDAY when we have messy art projects that need to dry!
 They are simply labeled with their name and the kiddos keep things there throughout the day. At the end of the day they take everything home and store their pencil boxes there. (I can wipe down the tables easily without pencil boxes in the way!)
Community Supplies:
I use A LOT of math manipulatives.  (My principal came into my room Friday and asked me if I really needed all these.  I told her YES!) I found this great shelf in a storage room one year and adopted it as my own.  A little blue paint and it matches my room! Most of my storage containers are the $1.00 shoe boxes from Walmart.  When I am teaching a lesson I can grab a box of manipulatives and put it on a table for students to share.  I have 4 tables so I always try to have 4 boxes of each type of manipulative. 
If I don't have a clear shoe box with enough manipulatives for a table I turn to these little red and green boxes....
 I bought these at Walmart in the dollar bin a couple of years ago.  They have held up well!  They make great bins for tables, partners, centers, or small groups.  I bought 10, so I always have enough to go around, although this year I have 25 kiddos, I think I need a few more!

My classroom is full of books.  Seriously I am a book hoarder.  I am aware of it and I own it!  The problem with being a book hoarder is eventually you will run out of room. Last summer I spent 1 week (yes, a whole week) organizing my library.  I organized all my books into bins by genre, author, character, or subject....whichever applied.  There is a mix of level in each bin so all my kids can shop from all my bins.  

This is just one section of my library.  Every book shelf has individual book bins with a label on the front.  All of my books have a matching sticker inside so the kiddos know where to put them. I have tried to spread my book shelves out throughout the room so the kiddos are not all shopping for books in one area.

I have a mix of containers in my room that I use as book boxes.  The white ones above are small dish pans from Wal-mart.  They sell them in the "college dorm" section right before school starts and they are only .97 cents!  I also have regular dish pans which are closer to $2.00 but I have just collected those over the years a few at a time.  I always buy red so if I ever re-do my classroom colors I'm in trouble!  I purchased a bunch of blue and green bins through Really Good Stuff a couple of years ago but they were expensive!!

Weekly Work Packets!
What do you do with all that work?  Well you can approach it a couple of ways.  I like sending everything home in one packet at the end of the week (they go home the following Monday or Tuesday, depending on when I get them done).  Once I grade or check through work I file it into a file box that are labeled with each child's name:
 At the end of the week I pull out all of the work and staple a student reflection sheet on the front: 
I monitor my kiddos every week during Fun Friday Centers.  On this reflection I update parents on their child's scores on important skills like reading (DIBELS), math, and classroom behavior.  I also report back on whether or not homework has been turned in.  This is a weekly parent/teacher communication tool that helps keep everyone informed.  It helps me keep track too!  

I love having the students reflect on their week.  My only "rule" is they can't pick recess or Fun Friday as their favorite.  I tell them they are helping ME become a better teacher by telling me what their favorite learning activity was! 

So there you have it...I could go on forever but I won't!  These are just a few ways that I stay organized in my classroom.  For more awesome ideas visit the linky party to link up with some really awesome bloggers!

Happy Teaching (always!)