Friday, June 14, 2013

Keeping It Organized!

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be guest blogging for Pamela... even if I am just a little jealous that her toes are in the sand and mine aren't. If you don't know who I am, my name is Gina and I blog over at Third Grade Tidbits. I teach third grade (clearly) and have for the past 5 years. In the past 5 years I have been the WORST at organizing. I change my mind all. the. time. Do you do that too? Binders, folders, binders. drawers, back to binders. Ugh! But one thing two things that I have been using for the past 3 years that work AMAZINGLY- that is what I want to share with you today.

The first thing is what I do to keep my desk less cluttered and keep my brain from being frazzled. See, my first couple years of teaching, I would have books and copies and materials and who knows what else just scattered all over my desk and table. To the point where I felt like THIS was what my room looked like...
But thanks to these little beauties fixer uppers, that is not the case anymore...

I have these in the corner of my desk (admittedly this pic is NOT my desk, it is my dining room table). Once I start planning for the next week and making copies/prepping materials/gathering books, I put them in the "next week" drawer. On Friday, I take everything that I am using next week and put it in the correct drawer. Then whatever isn't ready, I finish at home over the weekend and put it in the appropriate drawers on Monday morning. Everything is prepped for the week and I can use my planning time to prepare for the following week. It helps keep me sane and my desk clean. Sometimes I forget what I planned on giving for homework but I can easily check the drawer to find out. If I don't finish something on Monday, I just move it down to Tuesday's drawer.  (If you look in the picture below you will see my desk has no clutter- minus my computer bag that I had thrown up there for one reason or another.)

These don't only help me, they help if I have an unexpected sub. Sometimes I am just too sick to get things gathered for my sub. But this solves that problem. I can easily look at my plans, email them to my friend and she will give them to my sub. The sub can go in the drawer and take out whatever is needed for the day without having to know where anything is in my classroom. These drawers have saved me with substitutes on more than one occasion. And it helps my teammates because they don't have to run around trying to gather busy work for my kids to do if I am out.

The next sanity saver is another beauty work in progress (even though I have been using them for three years). This one helps with collecting student work...

Collecting work had always been an issue for me. Either I would be collecting and a handful of kids wouldn't be done or I would be waiting for that handful of kids while the ones already done sat there and doodled or did who knows what. I finally decided on this method. (What you don't see in this picture is a big stack of class lists. I put about 5 on a page and just run off a bunch of copies and cut them. They are clipped together and sit on top of the drawers.)If we are working on, let's say, grammar sentences, I will get one of my class lists and at the bottom of the list, write the assignment and date. "Grammar sentences 5/3. Then I tell the class "The slip says Grammar sentences in (whatever color I wrote it in) and it is in the grammar drawer." I know this sounds like a moot point, but sometimes I don't get all the old papers out and there are other slips in there, so they need to know which slip they are looking for.

When students finish, they go up to the drawers and highlight their name, put the paper in the correct drawer, then cross their name off the list. Very simple. When time is up, anyone who has NOT finished gets their incomplete work folder (these are hanging in a pocket chart on the wall, I have no pics sorry) and put the assignment in there. The folder then goes in the top blue bucket that says incomplete work.
Once I take out an assignment to grade, I look at the class list, put the papers in number order quickly (this helps because regardless of how many times I remind kids, someone will forget to cross their name off), and then list the assignment on the board with the student numbers of anyone who has not turned it in,

Any time students have free time the first thing they must do is their incomplete work. If I have NOT taken the assignment to grade yet, they find the stack in the drawer, put it in, and cross their name off. If I have taken the papers already, they put it in the bottom blue bucket that says Late Work and they go to the board and erase their number from the assignment list.

I know it seems like a lot, and you may be thinking, oh my word my kids wouldn't do that. But I promise you, they will. I had one student this past year (he ended up leaving to go to a different placement) that had a lot of learning disabilities and well, just a lot of problems over all. But after a few tries and the kids reminding him along the way, he remembered how to do it. It saves me time, keeps papers together, and keeps the students accountable and teaches them responsibility.

I hope you enjoyed my long-winded systems. And I am currently working on a new look for those drawers... they will be posted on my blog! Be sure to stop by and see how much better they look now!

-- Third Grade Tidbits


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