Ok, so here’s the first installment of my classroom organization series! Yippee!! Today we’re going to talk about how to organize and store student supplies (i.e. the things the students need on a regular basis); one of my secrets being to use shoe organizers to store things (like calculators).
I found that it really helped the chaos in my classroom if everything students might need were grouped together. That cut down on students having to get up and walk one place to sharpen their pencil, somewhere else to get a tissue, and yet a third place to grab their calculator. To try to ward that off, I created my “student station”.
1. Shoe organizers that I used to hold calculators. I’m not sure where I came up with this idea, but I probably stole it from another teacher. I think it is a super great way to store your calculators so that the kids don’t have to dig through a bag or box of calculators to find theirs, and you can tell at a glance if any are missing. I numbered my calculators and numbered the shoe organizer to match, then assigned each student a number. They knew which number was their calculator, and the numbered pockets made it easy to put them back in the right place.
I believe we found these shoe organizers at Lowe’s, and I was so happy to find pink ones that matched my classroom decor! I had the maintenance men screw them into the walls so that they would support the weight of the calculators. My first year I had a flimsy plastic organizer and it worked fine since all I had were scientific calculators, but the hefty TI-84s needed something a little more durable.
This is what I had my first year – I hot glued the numbers onto the plastic (rather than writing on the organizers with Sharpie like I did on the gray and pink ones above) and hung it up using Command Hooks.
This could absolutely be adapted to fit your needs if you don’t teach math or high school. You could assign each kid a number and they could use that pocket to keep their glue, crayons, markers, or whatever supplies they use in your class. Or you could use it yourself to store your own supplies or manipulatives and keep them close at hand.
So back to that first picture…
2. An example of what I wanted homework papers to look like. To be honest, I really wasn’t too picky about the formatting of homework – I just wanted the kids to do it and turn it in. But just so they knew what I preferred, I bought a poster-sized piece of “notebook paper” at the Parent-Teacher store, made an example homework paper, and laminated it.
3. Trays to turn in papers. I had five classes, and each class had a designated tray (the green labels that you can’t read because I didn’t get a close up picture tell which tray belongs to which class). The students knew to always turn in their papers to that tray. The sixth tray on the bottom held extra notebook paper in case anyone needed some.
4. All the other random stuff that the kids might need: tissues, hand sanitizer, extra pencils, pencil sharpener, hole punch, and stapler.
You can see in the picture that there is a cup of rulers sitting on the table with the hand sanitizer, etc. Later I changed that and put the rulers and protractors in the mesh pockets at the top of the shoe organizers.
I had a similar set-up in my first classroom. The tall drawers were where students turned in homework and I kept the extra paper in that tray on the left (along with the students’ flipcharts – a note taking device I like that I might share later). The bottom drawer is labeled “absent”, and that is how I did my absent work my first year, but it didn’t work that great, was really time consuming, and I came up with a much better method later, which I’ll be sharing later in this series.
So I’ve shown you where the students turn in their papers, but what about what I do with them after they turn them in?
I tried to zoom in on this picture, but it made it really, really blurry…so just use your imagination. Those trays on my desk (in the white circle) were labeled just like the ones at the student station. As soon as I graded papers, I would put them in the tray that corresponded to that class. Then I could just grab them and hand them back when I had that class.
Ideally, I would have trained several responsible students to immediately hand back the papers whenever they saw some in their classes tray (maybe at the beginning of class while we were doing our warmup, or if they finished their work early). That would be the best thing to do so that you don’t have to eat up instructional time to hand out papers. However, in my case, I had students absent all the time, and I really didn’t like to hand back work (especially tests or quizzes) when there were students who hadn’t turned theirs in or taken the test. So usually I would let the stack pile up for several class periods and then hand out a ton at once (which is bad since they didn’t get their work and receive feedback in a timely manner…don’t be like me, try to find a way to hand stuff back promptly).
Ok, there you go. Now you’ve seen the wonderfulness of the shoe organizer in the classroom. Did I leave anything out? Was that clear? Leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions.
Now go forth and organize!