Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bulletin Board Border Storage

Good afternoon sweet friends!  I hope that you are not in the area of the US currently affected by all the snow and storms!  Here in the south is it pretty cold and windy (for us Southern folks)!

I stole an idea shared by a friend that I have to share with you today.  Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am very organized.  For the most part I agree with that statement, but there are some areas that I just get plain tired and lazy so I throw the items in a box and pretend it isn't there.  One of those such items would be bulletin board border.  I HATE IT!  Border never stays rolled or once rolled slips from the inside.  I've tried lots of organizational methods in the past, but for me ... shoving it all in a box was so much easier!!!  Am I right???

My friend Mary is a genius!  She stores her border in icing containers!  Brilliant!!!

How many of those containers have I thrown away in the past?  I don't want to know.  Guess what?  I won't be throwing them away any more!  They will go in my school closet with my border rolled nicely inside it!  I love that the containers are clear enough where you can see what the border looks like too!

Another option to border storage is Dollar Tree round Tupperware boxes.  I like this method, but free is better so I will probably stick to the empty icing containers!  

So simple and so practical!  I've stolen this idea and I am sure that Mary won't mind if you do as well :)

Thanks for reading!  To keep up with all things Mrs. Harris, please follow my blog Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

1 Unit Bucket at a Time

Hey friends!  I'm Meghan from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris and I'm going to share with you all how I organize all of my center games, activities, and unit materials.  So for my first 4 years teaching, I thought I had the perfect system.  I would start a unit and then as the unit went along, I put an extra copy of everything in a file folder labeled with that unit.  Then at the end of the unit I put all the items  in the same folder and pushed it into the filing cabinet.

This is an exaggeration of the reality, but you get the idea.  After years of pulling through the same files and crumbling up dice and other center necessities, I decided that there had to be a better way!!!

Who loves Target?  (My hand is raised!!!  Ok, both hands are raised!!!)  I do my best thinking at Target.  While walking the aisles of the organization section, it hit me!  The perfect protection for all of those odd shaped center activities would be a Tupperware box.  No cramming, wrinkling, or shoving!  So I started with the three units that I was teaching that week:  Nouns, Short Vowel Words, and Measurement.  I purchased three buckets ($4.50) and as the week went along, I gently placed all the WS copies in a folder at the bottom of the bucket and when the unit was complete, I put all of my center games in as well.  It worked perfectly!!!  I was so excited.  So I then purchased tubs for my next few units and so forth.  It literally took me a year to get everything in their boxes, but it was so worth it!!! Here's what my unit buckets look like today (3 years later)!

I used the cheap shelf rack things and zip tied them together in a way that worked for me below my guided reader buckets.  I threw in seasonal buckets as well for those activities that really save a teacher's life!

Here's a closer look!  I have all my reading bins together, ELA, and Math.  I decided to keep my Science and Social Studies units in the filing cabinet, because they don't have as many centers and crushable pieces as the other three subject areas do.  As you can see some bins are full and others are not near as full.  I think if I return to the traditional classroom in the future, I will probably divide out some of the buckets.  For example addition will be split addition with single digits, double digits, etc.

Now that I am out of the classroom, I still have my bins set up for checkout by other teachers.  I can't tell you how many times this year my bins have already been used by fellow teachers who need a little extra supplemental materials.  

Who knew $1.50 at a time could literally change my school life!  That's all the boxes cost at any given store.  Don't get the shoe size, they are a little too small and will bend the WS!  If you are interested, the labels for the top and front of the boxes are in my TPT store that you can check out here.  Thanks for reading and I'm so glad to "meet" you!  Comment below so I can get to know you!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Organize Yourself One Month at a Time

I am so excited to share with you for the very first time!  Thank you, Tiffani, for allowing me to join Time 4 Organization.  My name is Stacey from Teaching Ever After. I have been blogging there for just over 2 years, but I have been teaching for almost 10 years.  Where does time go?!  I currently teach 1st grade, but have also taught 2nd for the greater majority of my career.  I hope you enjoy my organization tips between my classroom and home!

  This idea was shared with me years ago from a seasoned teacher and I have to say it is absolutely brilliant.  I joined a team who liked to be ahead of the game.  This meant stacks of papers everywhere!  This eliminates the stacks completely and you are organized for a whole month of teaching.  Can you say AMAZING!  

I have 32 file folders in my file cabinet.  They are labeled 1-31 for the days of the month and one says "Sub Folder".  As my team makes copies I throw them into one of the dated folders where I think I will be using them.  For example, I know I do my reading comprehension test every Friday.  As my teammate makes copies of the tests I am able to pop it into the dated folder.  NO MORE STACKS!!  

The "Sub Folder" contains my generic lesson plans, class list, seating chart, extra work, and important information.

The best part is it is so easy to prepare for a sub or if you have an emergency you can send a teammate over to your room and direct them to the file folder for the day, week, or month if need be.  
I did originally post this as a bright idea on my blog and I have received some questions.  I want to be absolutely clear that I do NOT have my entire month planned in advance.  I simply have all of my pre-copied items organized as I receive them.  I am an organized person, but never could I plan out a month in advance. LOL!

I hope you enjoy this organizational tip and it is helpful as you begin your new year!

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

No More Messy Student Desks!

I am pulling this post over from my other blog because I know it is something we all struggle with in the classroom.  Right before break, we ran out of time to clean out our desks so we'll be doing that first thing on Monday!

We're about half way through the school year and the newness of the year has worn off off.  Our desks are messy with papers to grade, parent letters to answer, and post-it reminders to complete.  

And if your class is like mine, your students's desks are not in good shape either.  Papers are getting shoved into desks, notebooks are being pulled out at the wrong time, and work is getting lost.  Does this look familiar?

This desk wasn't even the worst of the worst.  I would be too embarrassed to show you that one!  

Well, first things first.  Make sure that small supplies are put away being put back into the desk.  That seems easy enough, right?  Yes, but so many kids need a reminder to do that. 

Also, if you notice in the "before" picture, this student had a few pairs of scissors in her desk.  One day, her desk was so messy that she could not find her own scissors and had to borrow a pair.  Well, that pair got sucked into the messy desk vortex too!  Make sure they only have their own materials in their desks!

Something that is very helpful is color-coding for subject areas.  I know it is common practice, but if you're not already doing it, I highly recommend it.

In our school, we use blue for Social Studies, red for Math, yellow for ELA, green for Science, and purple for the Take-Home Folder. That might seem like a lot of folders, but having a folder for each subject really combats having random papers floating around inside the desk.  

We have our students keep spiral notebooks for each subject as well.  The notebooks are difficult to tell apart when looking into the desk.  To solve that problem, I have students color the edges of their notebook so they can see the color from the side.  

This prevents students from having to pull out all of the notebooks while searching for the correct one.  It wouldn't be much of an issue but the other notebooks usually get shoved back into the desk in a hurry.

I like to have student stack all of their folders and then all of their notebooks on one side of their desk.  Notice how easy it is to tell which notebook is used for each subject!

Another quick an easy trick is to write the subject on the text books.  This makes it much easier for students to quickly grab the right text.  This is especially helpful for textbooks that look similar.  

And, Voila!  A neat and clean desk!  A place for every paper.  A spot for each pencil.   Everything is easy to access.  It makes me feel so much better to see a clean desk!

Now, if students would automatically keep their desks clean!  Ha!  I'm pretty sure that is NOT going to happen...unless you make it a priority.  Simple verbal reminders can go a long way.  Also, setting aside time to straighten up once a week is helpful.

In the past, I have conducted random "desk checks" after school and left a note on the desks that didn't pass inspection.  

What other tips do you have to help keep student desks clean?  I would love for you to comment with more ideas!

If you enjoyed this idea, please consider following me here on Time 4 Organization. You can also find me on my other blogTeachers pay TeachersFacebook, or Instagram.

Thank you for visiting and I hope to see you again soon!

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Friday, January 2, 2015

A Simple Way to Keep Behavior Charts Organized

Hi!  My name is Nicole Chavanne and I am so excited to join this wonderful blog!  I am a mom of two littles and a 5th grade special education teacher.  My life is busy so I try to keep it as organized as possible.  I've had to let some things go since becoming a mom, but I try to think of little hacks to make life easier and more organized.  I can't wait to share ideas and to learn a lot along the way!

As a special education teacher, I have worked with my fair share of behavior charts.  I have a love-hate relationship with behavior charts.  I LOVE them because I have seen them make a huge difference in the behavior of some kids.  I hate them because I hate clutter.

I like to keep behavior charts because they can show me patterns.  Maybe a student always has trouble on Tuesdays.  Maybe most of their behaviors come out on days they do not have Occupational Therapy.  It is so much easier to recognize patterns when I can see the data.  

But, I like to send behavior charts home.  Parents need to know what is happening in school and often, the parents I work with have worked out a home consequence for good/bad days at school.  It is so wonderful when I get to work with dedicated and supportive parents!

So, my choices are:

1.  Make copies each day before sending home so I can keep a copy for my records.  This choice is terrible because I need to waste precious minutes during the most hectic time of the day to go to the copy room.  Not to mention, I would be killing so many trees!

2.  Send the original home and have the parents sign then return.  Well, this is terrible because sometimes the behavior chart doesn't come back and I lose that day's data.  Also, it prevents the parents from being able to try to keep track of patterns.  And what about the parents that want to celebrate a GREAT day by hanging that puppy on the fridge?

3.  Chart the results of the day's chart.  I used to have a table set up where I would enter the number of points a students would earn for the day and a small note.  It was never enough to really get a picture of what happened during the day and I was always having to tuck pieces of paper with notes in the back or make a copy of the behavior chart on really bad days.  

No matter what method I tried, I always ended up with a huge pile of unorganized behavior charts from multiple kiddos because who has time to organize them into a binder right away?  

Not great choices.  But that is what I've done for YEARS!  

Another thing I have done for YEARS is have a home-school journal with some kids.  Each day, I would write a short (or long if it was one of those days) blurb about the day.  Each day, the book go home and would come back the next day. That notebook held a wealth of information!  Hmmm...  That got me thinking!  

Wait for it...

Ta-da!  I just took a bunch of blank behavior charts and bound them into a book!  Then, the book can go back and forth between school and home.  There is a wealth of data in one place and I don't have to worry about organizing loose papers each day.

It is simple (I like simple) and it solves my problem (I LOVE that!).  

Say it with me, "No more behavior chart clutter!"

To see some of the behavior tools I have used in my classroom, check out my other blog or my TpT store.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Time to Re-Organize

Hello all, this poor baby has been so sadly neglected, however, that is going to change.  I am changing some of the features and turning this into a collaborative blog.  With the help of some of my fellow bloggers you will soon be reading about all the wonderful ways to stay organized at home, school and even in the kitchen.

Today I'm pulling over an older post from my other blog Time 4 Kindergarten  With the new year approaching it is a great time to start getting a handle on the pile of papers.

Finding a way to keep track of the papers you need to copy can be challenging.  Depending on how you keep your files can either assist or inhibit they way you plan.   Like most teachers when they first start out, I had the file cabinet.  You know the one, it's beige, has four drawers and can tip over if you open all four drawers at once.  Soon that file cabinet became one hot mess.  I'd pull out papers and place in my To Be Copied Folder, make my copies, then what???  I never had time to put them back, so I'd place them in a basket on top of the file cabinet to file later.  Eventually that basket became so full, that I had no other choice, but to shove them in a box.
old school teacher files, Ditch the file cabinet
It was a vicious cycle that I'd pay for at the end of each school year as I sat there filing all those papers. Thanks to a good friend and colleague, my paper chaos came to an end about 6 years ago.  With a small investment in some plastic sleeves and 3-ring binders, my mess became less and less.  Anything new goes straight from the printer tray to a plastic sleeve.
Ditch the file cabinet
Ditch the file cabinet
Now when I do my planning, all my resources are at my finger tips.  My binders are divided into themes, months, skills; you name it, I just might have it in a binder.
I use post-it tabs to tab the pages I need copies.  
Ditch the file cabinetDitch the file cabinet
This is only a small section.  I currently have 2+ shelves full.  Ditch the file cabinet Ditch the file cabinet 
How does this keep me from piling up papers that need to go back in binders? EASY PEASY as my kids say.  I DON'T take the papers our of their sleeves.  Instead, I use post-it tabs to tab the pages I need copies.  After the pages are copies, I re-stick these tabs to the inside cover of the binder to reuse at a later date.

Yes, I might be bringing several binders to the copy room, (it keeps me from needing to go to the gym) and it keeps my file cabinet clutter-free.  Yes, I still have a file cabinet- old habits are hard to break and there are some things that just won't fit in a plastic sleeve.  I do find that I am using less and less of the contents of my file cabinet. Slowly I am weeding through it.

So where do I find my binders and page protectors. Costco.  They have the best deals on both.  I use the 1-inch binders for thematic days such as the Polar Express, 100th Day and certain holidays.  I use the larger 3-inch binders for my bigger packets like my predictable readers and no prep monthly packs. Yes, at first it is an investment, but the time I was spending on always refiling is so worth the money.
I didn't start this process all at once.  Each week, I'd take home a small section of my cabinet and while I was watching TV, I'd place the papers in the sleeves.  Little by little my binders slowly filled up.

I hope you found this helpful.  Please check back often to see what other tips and tricks my blogger friends have to share.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The BIg Bag is Back

The Large Utility Tote is back this month as a special for only $10 after you spend $35.  Find a friend and split the cost of $45 for two bags. SUCH A DEAL!!! These bags are great for hauling around teachers manuals, students work and more. Just visit Thirty One Gifts  

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