Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting Organized for the New Year, Part 1

     One thing I am really good at is getting organized.  Every summer I work in my classroom and decorate it with a new theme for the school year.  I put away all my charts, paper, books, etc. in their tidy little boxes and nooks.  I make copies and prepare materials for my new batch of little first graders.  My tables and chairs are lined up just so.  By the end of summer my room is just the way I want it.  AND THEN SCHOOL STARTS!  My room very quickly becomes a mess with stacks of papers on my desk, piles of books that need to be put away, and who knows what else just laying around until I just can't stand it and have to clean!   I'm getting tense just thinking about it!
     So my goal for the rest of the school year is to work on organizing my room and materials.  For one thing I don't want to spend so much of my summer at school trying to get ready for the next school year.  I would love to have all of that stuff done by the end of this school year so I can enjoy my summer (You know, sleeping late, reading, taking a nap, snacking, etc.  The fun stuff.)  One thing I have already done to help me stay (a little) more organized is to adopt the number system for my students.  (OK, I actually did that before school started but I have to say I love it and it has helped me to become more organized, so I figured it had to go in this post.)   Most of you have probably heard of the number system, but for those who haven't here it is in a nutshell.  Each student is assigned a number.  At the beginning of the year I write my students' names in ABC order and number them accordingly.  Each student gets a number and has this same number for the rest of the school year. 
     There are a lot of ways having numbers can help you be more organized.  For example, I have a mailbox with a slot for each student.  This is where I put students' papers for them to collect at the end of the day.  Rather than making new name labels every year, I simply use mailbox number stickers to label each cubby and I am good to go.  This is a real time-saver.  Here is a picture.
(Sorry it's sideways. I can't figure out how to flip it.)

I also use numbers to choose partners for games and activities, to pick a person to read a selection, to select a new Star Student for the week, and lots of other things.  I bought some really cute little popcicle sticks with stars on the end and labeled each one with a number.  This year I have 22 students so I have 22 popcicle sticks labeled 1-22.  Well, actually I have the number 1-25 in case I get any new students.  I keep them all together and the numbers I don't use I just turn over.  Whenever a student transfers I do not give their number away because quite often students will leave and then come back after a few weeks.  When I want to pick a student for anything I simply pull a stick.  Again, I don't have to remake these every year with students' names so it's another time saver.  Here are a couple of pictures.

I also use students' numbers to identify their property.  An example of this is the water bottle each student has.  I prefer my students not drink out of the water fountain (So many cooties!) so I buy each student a bottle of water to keep at their table.  Instead of writing their name on the cap of each bottle I simply label each bottle with each student's number.  Students are only allowed to fill their bottle in the classroom sink and I clean the sink area everyday.  I'm not sure if this helps cut back on sickness, but it makes me feel better.

One other way I use numbers is for my behavior system.  When my students exhibit inappropriate behavior, they have to pull a card.  I have a pocket chart hanging on my door for the cards.  Each pocket has a number for each student and 4 cards.  At the end of the day I can tell at a glance who has or has not pulled a card.  Plus, I don't have to make new name tags every year.  

So, wish me luck on getting more organized this year.  I am definitely going to need it.  Do you have any resolutions for the rest of the year?  If so, good luck!  And, remember, we're halfway through the school year!   

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