If you’re anything like me, you are totally in SURVIVAL MODE right now. Standardized tests are done, most assignments are complete, and you (and your students) are just biding your time until that glorious bell on the last day of school. (Your house is also a total wreck, and you’ve let everything go until you “get through these last two weeks” – but that’s neither here nor there.) Part of the challenge of these final days is keeping your students busy and being proactive with your work days, etc. One of my favorite ways to do that is by putting my students to work getting my classroom organized for the fall.
In my end-of-the-year checklist post a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I number all the books in my classroom – this includes textbooks, trade novels, etc. I got a few questions about that and, since the end of the year is a great time to put your students to work getting organized for next year, I thought I’d explain it a little today… The idea really isn’t very novel (Ha! Pun intended. I crack myself up!), but it works well and is super easy to implement. Here’s the gist:
Every single book on my shelves has a neon label stuck to it with a number on it. (I actually had my students do this for me at the end of last school year, but I wrote out all the numbers myself. It works best if it is something – a handwriting style, ink color, etc. – that is not easy to replicate.) In addition, my students are all assigned a number at the beginning of the year – I just go down the list and number them alphabetically. That number is THEIR book number. Then, throughout the year, whenever we use textbooks (I just keep a classroom set in the room because we use them so infrequently) or start a new novel, they simply grab their book off the shelf. This system makes it really easy to keep up with lost books and saves me the time of having to have kids sign out books for every new unit etc. My students really like it too because they can easily find their books on the shelf (or when they are strewn all over the school) etc.
For bookkeeping purposes, I keep a document saved on my computer that inventories all the books – which ones I have and how many of each. Then, towards the end of the year, I print out the list and write down what numbers I’m missing from each stock. The students know that if their number is missing, they need to make a trip to Barnes & Noble and buy me a new one before the last day. Honestly, it is one of the best things I’ve done in terms of organization and simplicity in the classroom.
On a similar note, my classroom is set up in six rows of seats and each row has a drawer in the back of the room with basic materials – tape, markers, glue, scissors, highlighters, etc. The drawers are labeled based on the row number and so are all the materials inside. Then, whenever we do a group activity that requires these materials, the first person in the row knows to go grab their drawer (it is nice that they are removable) and everything they need is right there. Then, at the end of the block, all the materials go back in the numbered drawer and get put away. This is my first year doing this as well, and I am proud to report that I have not lost ANY materials. This makes my wallet (and my husband) so happy! 😉
Again, this requires a little bit of extra work up front (that’s what your students are for), but it saves you a lot of work later. Trust me, you will LOVE coming back to such a neat and organized classroom in August.
Do you use any systems like this? How do they work for you? What other ideas for organization do you have?