March 23, 2011

Classroom Organization: Take 2

As you may have noticed, I have been obsessed (to put it mildly) with getting my classroom organized.  So, when I found out school would be open this week, of course I had to go in.  Uninterrupted, quiet, kid-free time to get my room in order?  I'll take it!

Let me introduce you to my new friend and ally in the battle for the organized classroom...My Labelmaker:
Be still my heart...
I know, he's beautiful, isn't he?  I'm in love.  The rational part of my brain has managed to convince the psychotic obsessive part of my brain that I do NOT need to label every single thing in the classroom.  Thankfully, Rational Brain HAS allowed me to do some pretty awesome labeling damage.  Observe Exhibit A, my beautifully labeled binders of literacy transparencies and originals:

Do you keep your papers in files or binders?  I keep all of my math and literacy units in binders because it's easier to keep everythign in order, but everything else goes in files.

My other organization LOVE of late has been these amazing bins from IKEA.  I searched high and low on the website to link them to this post, but couldn't find them.  Odds are they're there and just called something silly and amazing like a fraya or preuge...I love IKEA.  Anyways, these bins are deep, fairly sturdy, and (drumroll) only $1.99!  I've already made a second trip back for a bunch more, and used them all up today.  They are helping me immensely get my messy cabinets under control.  Once they all have their own labels, I will truly be in heaven:
 Misc. supplies that heretofore had been shoved in any open space now have their own homes!

4 more also solved my problem of messy text books.  Our literacy texts (which are all numbered on the spine) are now organized into bins.  It's WAY easier to get 10 year olds to put text books neatly in a bin with 5 other books than to hope that they can manage to get all 25 neatly in order in a cabinet.  I have the bins in the front of the room under the white board for now, and as long as I don't trip over them when I'm teaching, I think they'll stay there.  Gotta maximize every available space, am I right?!

Because I am on the never-ending quest to cram more literacy into my day, I decided to make two new little independent literacy activities: Word Watchers and Book Recommendations.  Vocabulary and Word Work is an area that I have definitely been brainstorming ideas for improvement lately.  I decided that encouraging kids to be on the lookout for words would be a good, easy addition to what I'm already doing.  Enter Word Watcher.  In the pocket on the left are little slips that ask students to write down the word, where they saw/heard it, and what it means.  Then, they will put the slip in the empty (for now) pocket on the right.  I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I'm thinking a raffle--I'm planning on asking the kids what they think a good reward for being a Word Watcher would be.

Also new to Miss Teacher's classroom are Book Recommendations.  I recently read some research on best practices in literacy that said teachers should give kids real life opportunities to talk about books, just like adults read and share and discuss books.  Adults rarely do dioramas or mobiles when they finish books!  Instead, we like to tell our friends about them or discuss them with someone we know!  Taking this into consideration, I've been talking to the kids lately about my own book club and how my friends and I love to share books with each other.  I think that one crucial element of good quality literacy instruction is modeling what it really looks like to BE A READER, and to me, this example is part of it.  So, today I made book recommendation slips that ask kids to record the book they enjoyed, who they would recommend it to, and why they think that person/group of people would like it.  For now I'm going to have them just stick the slips in the pocket, but my plan is to have a recommendation time maybe once a week where we share them.

BTW my idea for making the pockets like this comes from the fabulous Ladybug Teacher who uses laminated construction paper for pockets for her exit slips and things.  (I STRIVE to be as organized as she is!!)  It always looks fabulous on her blog, so I thought I'd try it!  Success!  (And I jump at any opportunity to laminate...)  One more organization idea I'd like to pass on is this beautiful To Do List printable I got from another fabulously organized teacher, Persnickety Pickles.  How cute is this??  I think my world would collapse without my To Do Lists.  I usually make them in a notebook, but I loved the spaces on this form for meetings and reminders for the week.  Thanks, Pickles!
Of course, while I was at school I just HAD to restock my snack drawer (aka the most important part of my room!).  Since I pretty much live in my classroom and since I have the metabolism of a 15 year old boy, a snack drawer is crucial.  Currently in the drawer: Oh My Omega trailmix from Trader Joe's, chocolate covered edamame and chocolate covered espresso beans (YES!  Both of my addictions in one convenient snack!) also from TJ's, variety of Kashi TLC crackers, brand new jar of sunflower butter (YUM!), and nutrigrain bars leftover from ISAT testing...not as appetizing as the rest of the goodies!  I also have a little fridge in the room with yogut, cheese sticks, and chocolate milk boxes.  Wow, after listing all of that out, it seems like a completely ridiculous amount of food!  But I like to have a mid-morning snack, plus a little something right after school, so it works. :)  Do you have a snack drawer?  What are your MUST HAVES?
I'm glad I went in today, but I still have gotten nowhere on the grading pile...if there's one part of my job I HATE it's grading.  Anyone want to do it for me?  Please?  Pretty please???

As always, if you are interested in my Word Watcher Slips or Book Recommendation Slips, I would be happy to send them to you!  Email me at juiceboxesandcrayolas AT gmail DOT com
(One of these days I'll get my you know what together and hop on the google docs band wagon...)


  1. I am loving your organization posts!

    I really, really love that "To Do" list!

  2. I only do grading if I am rewarded with snacks AND I get to draw smiley faces...

  3. I love how planning an American Revolution is on your To Do list!! =)

    I LOVE reading your blog - very entertaining and great ideas! Thanks for sharing!!


  4. Such wonderful ideas! As a first year teacher, I'm struggling to just keep up with the everyday...but I'd LOVE to be this organized. One day...

    I love these literacy ideas! I started a "book club" with my middle schoolers. Unfortunately, there hasn't been as much motivation as I would have hoped (they picked their own books), but it's been a good first try!

  5. My biggest snack drawer "must have" if beef jerky. Quick and delicious protein!

  6. I'm so glad I stumbled across your blog. I love this post! Your classroom looks great.



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