Friday, July 8, 2011

Organizing and keeping it organized

It's important that when organinzing your classroom that you keep the materials for the students where they can reach it.  If not, you'll spend most of your day getting things down and putting them back up.

The Dollar Tree is my favorite place to shop for baskets and bins.  In both my preschool and kindergarten rooms my bins were labeled with a picture and words.  Also, the spot on the shelf was also labeled with a picture and words.  So if a child took the bin of markers, they weren't putting the bin back where the scisosrs should go.  It may not seem like a huge issue, but having a place for everything makes the children feel secure and safe.  They know exactly where to find what they are looking for.  Imagine if you put your cups away in this cupboard on day, and this the next, and then here the next.  Imagine how annoying that would be!

In my third grade classroom I don't label the bins or the shelves.  I figure by now they should be able to put the crayons with the crayons and remember where they took the bin from.  I also have my books in bins and those are labeled.  I have holiday books, religion books, relaxed reading (aka easy reads-I don't want a low reader to feel "dumb" because they have an "easy" book).  Then if I have multiple books, like Babysitter Club, or Goosebumps, I have a bin for just those. 

When students "check" a book out, they fill out their card and place it in a pocket on a large piece of poster board.  I have a librarian that checks each week to see if the book is back, if the child still needs it, and to put the returned books back in their proper bins.

My students know where to find everything and know where everything goes.  Why?  Because it never changes.  They know exactly where to turn in their homework (the "in bin" by my desk).  They know where to find loose-leaf paper (on a caddy in front of the room).  They know where to get scrap paper and where to put scraps of paper (in the bottom drawer of my printer stand).  It makes for a smooth operation and not a lot of students asking where things are.

It's important that the first week (or more if you teach younger kids) to remind them where things are.  After that, I tell them, "I haven't moved it.  Where was it before?"   After me asking this, they suddenly remember!  Small miracles!

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