Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teacher Week '13: Now Teach! Organizing for Instruction

Five of My Tried and True Organizing Tips and 
Why They Are Must-Dos in the Classroom 
{freebies included}
1. Calendar Book Ring System

I have a thing for book rings...They make it SO EASY for my Calendar Leaders (one of my classroom jobs) to manage calendar.  No more losing or searching for pieces, just flip the pieces!! You can get this set of calendar pieces for FREE in my TpT store. 

My Calendar Leaders (two students) lead the class in calender takes less than five minutes and is a great way for the students to review specific objectives (that they may have trouble with) everyday. The Calendar Leaders also make calendar interactive by having the rest of the students echo what they say. For instance, the Calendar Leaders will say, "Today is Tuesday comma September 3rd comma 2013 period," and then the other students echo. The echoing is a great way to keep all the students engaged.

2.  Essential Questions Book Ring System

Like I said, I have a thing for book rings...all you have to do is flip! No more writing and erasing the essential questions/objectives on the board! Perhaps you keep your posters in a binder and switch them out with every unit and that's cool too! Not only are the book rings super easy and time efficient but they are great for content integration since you have easy access to all of the essential questions. These pages are for the 2nd grade Standards of Learning (SOL) in Virginia and you can get them for FREE [here], [here], and [here] in my TpT Store.

3. Student Work-in-Progress

I L-O-V-E pocket charts too! This pocket chart was a lifesaver last year when it came to managing students' work-in-progress. Each student is assigned a pocket and they  put any unfinished paper-based task in their pocket. Lost papers are no longer an issue (I have a "no loose papers allowed in desk" policy) and the whole "Whose still working on that?" is an easy problem to solve!

4. Homework Folder Pocket Chart

One can never have too many pocket charts, right?! This pocket chart is near the classroom door so when students enter the classroom in the morning they put their homework folder and/or Porter Pocket (folder that goes home once a week with student work) in the pocket chart. Again, each student is assigned a pocket so it's a great way to check attendance and see who is being responsible with bringing their folders back to school. What I love the most about it though is it makes my job super easy (every minute counts!) to collect anything from their folders AND students are not bombarding me in the morning with notes, forms, etc.

5. Why Have a Leveled Classroom Library?

I REALLY don't like gathering books for Guided Reading...there's not enough books for the group or I can't find books that I feel passionate about the students reading. So I leveled my classroom library. The students are given the levels they may "shop" for and they use those books for our Reading Workshop. Not only does this help me out but it works out better for them too because they're more engaged and have ownership over  what they're reading. The only time I assign a specific book is sometimes for a Book Club or content related study.

6.  Math Manipulatives: Easy Access and ALL-IN-ONE Spot
Needless to say prepping and distributing math manipulatives can be time consuming! I don't know why I didn't do this sooner...put all of the math manipulatives in one spot that is easy for the students to access. Since the manipulatives are easy for the students to access, I can put them in charge of gathering what they need. For instance when it's time for small group math instruction, I can tell my small group to get twenty unifex cubes instead of them waiting for me to pass the unifex cubes to each of them. 

The small things can make a big difference! 

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