Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Organizing for Instruction

Day 3 of linking up with Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week '13

Today's theme is Now Teach!: Organizing for Instruction

Organized is one of those things I have always claimed to be, however, after my first year of teaching last year, I learned that I was not nearly as organized as I thought I was! SOME of my organization strategies worked last year but others were a disaster!

Here's what worked last year...
Daily by Day Organizer
This organizational system was easy and fabulous! I liked to be one week ahead in lesson planning, copying, etc. I used this fantastic (simple) organizer to put any worksheets, read alouds, etc. for the upcoming days. When I needed to copy items for the following week I would put it in the "to do" section of the organizer and then fill up the compartments for the following week staying about a week ahead of time.

On the day of, I'd take the work, books, etc. out of that day's bin and put math in one bin under my easel and ELA in another bin under my easel. I only have this one picture of my beloved easel that I am so sad I couldn't take to a new district/school. There were 4 slide in/out bins at the bottom of the easel.

Since I couldn't take my easel with me... this year to stay organized, I bought this wonderful set of drawers (only $28 at Big Lots vs. $50 at Michaels) I'm going to use the drawers for the day's work like I used the easel's bins. I'll use all the extra drawers for all the goodies I kept behind my easel that are needed for the learning circle (markers, erasers, pointers, pens, tape, timer, etc. etc.)

Papers & Files
Last year, I tried to use hanging folders in hanging file bins to keep all my paper work organized... it DID NOT WORK for me... so this year I bought a fabulous editable teacher binder set on TPT and have created a binder for: ELA, Guided Reading, Writing, Math, Guided Math, Parent Contact, Student Info, Lesson Plans, Meeting Notes and Sub Plans. I'm hoping this will keep me more organized and less likely to have to look for missing papers! I may even create a binder for field trip info such as permission slips, money, chaperones, etc. This is the best picture I have of the binders... check out TPT seller Haley O'Connor's binder product to have a better look.

Another note on my lesson plan binder... I have a template that I use that condenses the week into 4 pages (I plan on reworking the template for this year, I will post it when it's finished!). I put these sheets in page protectors and then I can leave my lesson plan binder open (on a recipe book stand) so I can refer to it during the day.

Centers Organization
Another plan of mine this year is to use my file cabinet more effectively. Last year I left A LOT of center ideas, etc. that the teacher before me had left and never ended up using them. This year I want to use my file cabinet to organize my literacy and math centers as I go throughout the year so that the following year I have them to refer back to. I plan on keeping at least 1 file folder per unit to further organize my centers.

Although I didn't have the best method for organizing centers once we were done using them, I did have a pretty good organizational system for literacy and math centers when they were in center rotation. I usually have 5 math centers that rotate for the "hands on" part of my guided math block. I have anywhere from 8-10 literacy centers that rotate during guided reading.

For math, I keep the games along with any accompanying manipulatives in tupperware containers. If there are various levels of the game, they are copied on colors to distinguish what level they are at (i.e. blue paper for below level, yellow paper for on level, green paper for above level). The kiddos names are on my center pocket chart to coincide with the appropriate level/color they should work with. Next to each center number on the pocket chart shown below, the names of the kiddos (in the appropriate color) would go next to what center they would work at on that day.

For literacy centers, all work and manipulatives are stored in these fabulous bins I found at the dollar store. The bins are the perfect size for folders. Each bin has colored folders that coincide with the students' levels and I use the same type pocket chart with colored names so the kiddos know which folder work they should use. I am very strict about bins being put back in number order as well as all the folders, tools being put back exactly how they were found. The kiddos did a very good job of this past year!

Here is how my center area looked last year...
Literacy Centers
Math Centers
Here's how it looks this year...

Here is a close up of the centers pocket chart. The kiddos names will go next to the number center they are at for literacy centers. For math "centers" they will go where their group number shows.

Okay, I think I have officially talked your ear off on Organizing for Instruction :)

Check in tomorrow for Taming the Wild: Classroom Management! Learn about my clip chart, rewards system and classroom WBT scoreboard!

Teach Run photo ScreenShot2013-07-29at32149PM_zps10463e60.png


  1. Thank you for sharing your excellent organization ideas! I love your center ideas! Your papers and files ideas have also inspired me! Have a super year!

    1. Wow it means a lot that one of my ideas inspired another teacher :) Thanks for your interest in my blog, have a super year as well!!!

  2. Where did you get your pink pocket chart at for your math centers?

    1. Unfortunately I'm not sure. I might have actually got it as a hand me down from another teacher. Wish I could be more helpful :(


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