Sunday, May 20, 2012

Organizing the Classroom Library

This can be a daunting task if you don't have a system already in place or you decide you need a system.  It can be a bit of an investment too.  First decide on how you want to sort your books.  Do you want them by author, themes or reading levels.  I personally have a little of each in my classroom library.  Next decide on what you will keep your books in for easy movement from a shelf to the floor or tables.  I use these.  I've had mine for about 14 years.  They are made by Rubbermaid.

I purchased them over 10 years ago at Walmart for about $2 each and they are still going strong.  Every time I see one on our freebie table at work, I grab it.    Check your Dollar Store for dishpans, they work great too.  Although I like the look of the clear boxes, they do tend to break if dropped.

Book Box Labels
Once you decide on how to organize your books, you will want to make some sort of label to place on the front of each box.  You can get my labels here. Before you start making and printing your labels, play with the size of label you will be using and how you will be attaching it.  Velcro or packing tape work the best, unless you are using Avery labels, even then, you may want to secure them with clear packing tape or clear contact paper, just to be safe.  Laminate your labels for durability.  They will take some abuse, especially if the boxes are being moved frequently from the shelves.

Label Your Books Inside and Out
Label your books.  Invest in a stamp mine reads- This book belongs to Mrs. Mugurussa or use address labels or make your own labels on the computer.  Place inside the front cover of each book.

For the outside of your books decide how students will know where to return the book to when they are finished.  I use a number system. Each box is assigned a number and every book in that box has a sticker on the upper right corner with the same number.  You could also place the number inside the front cover of the book too, just incase the sticker falls off.

Some people use matching book labels and box labels.  I too did this, however I found that the labels I made didn't adhere and students weren't paying close attention to the picture on the label.   It could be that  I was trying this method with kindergartners and the previous number method was with 2nd and 3rd graders. Check out my Labels pages for some matching labels for your tubs.

Another idea to help students know where to return books to, would be to use alphabet letters.  This works if you have no more then 26 boxes.

Check out this gadget
Intelli Scanner

This little scanner allows you to scan the isbn number of your books in order to create a customized library list.  Genius and not too expensive.  I have hundreds of books in my class library.  It is hard to remember all of the titles or the box they might/should be in.

For those of you with Smartphones, there are several apps that can do the same as the barcode scanner.  It uses the camera on your phone to take a picture of the barcode then scans the web for the title.  I've tried Book Catalogue for the Android.  I can email the database to myself and make a print out out all of my books for quick reference.  Within the database I can add notes such as the location of the books  Being that my books are organized in numbered buckets, I can quickly locate the book, once I know what boon to look in.

With the right organizational supplies and some time, organizing the class library can be accomplished.  Go slow, don't expect to be done in a few hours.  Go through the books to see what types of books you have.  As you browse, you will get an idea as to how you will want to group them.  Once you decide how to croup them, start sorting in 5 easy steps

  1. If space is a concern know how many containers you will need- buy a few extra- just in case you need more.
  2. Make your labels for the front of the  books (either numbers or letters)- I used round sticky dots and a sharpie
  3. Sort your books.
  4. Add the labels
  5. Make your book box labels and attach
Once it is complete- send my a picture- I'd love to share what you've done with everyone.
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Math and Literacy Work Station Containers

I'll admit it, I LOVE containers.  I can't go into a store without stopping in the organizational container area.  I have many crates, bins and boxes.  Each type of container is designated for specific items. I also only buy containers in specific colors.  I find that color coding when possible is extremely helpful.  My newest, most favorite bins are these.

Click box image to find at Target
Math Work Stations

They are Sterilite latch clip containers.  made especially for Target.  The best part is that on-line they were 6/$19.99.  In the store, they $4.99 each. I first found these containers last August, in the store with black clips.  I use the black ones for my Math Work Stations.  Next year, I will use the red clip boxes for my Literacy Work Stations.  They are durable and super easy for the kids to open. They stack nicely on my shelf and are able to hold everything I need for my stations.  They even make  a smaller vernon of these containers 6/$14.99.  I just wish I could rationalize why I need them.  Being cute and matching isn't a reason.  I made labels for the fronts so the kids can quickly find the container they need.  Labels will be in my next post.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Organize Your End of the Stress

Are you stressing about the end of the year and all you need and want to do before the final bell rings.  Start making your lists and marking your calendar to stay on track with all your Must-DO tasks
Head on over to Teaching Blog Addicts to read more
and get your free lists and calendars here.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Organizing the Teacher Files

Over the years I’ve used many different methods for organizing my classroom files, books and materials.  Like most beginning teacher I started out with the must have 4 drawer file cabinet.  Mine now resides in my garage storing my children’s library collection from when they were little.

As the years went by and my files grew.  I found it hard to find what I was looking for.  All the hanging folders were the same putrid olive green and all the folders were manila.   I had been given several boxes of slightly used colored hanging file folders with matching file folders.  It occurred to me that I could color code my files, making it easier to find things and to put things back.  I began with red for language arts, blue for math, green for science, yellow for art and black for social studies.  As the years went by, my grade levels changed frequently and my files grew and grew.  I was now up to two file cabinets and a ton of files.  At the end of each year I’d weed through the files, pull out what I knew I’d never use, and get rid of the extra few copies I had saved.  

As time went on I found that some of my files were enormous, especially the unit studies like the solar system or life cycles.  I started placing all of these units into binders.  Having everything in a binder made it easy to flip through the pages to find what I needed and put back immediately.  No more pulling random papers out of file folders, heading to the copy room then returning to the classroom and telling myself, “oh I’ll file those later.”  I even had a tub labeled “To Be Filed” 

Well, that “To Be Filed” tub grew from an overflowing tub, to a copy paper box.  It was then that I decided to make the switch.  I love the clean look of binders sitting all nice and neat and labeled on a shelf.  I love that all the papers are in plastic sheet protectors.  Now I just take the binder with me, take out the sheet protector, place it on the copy machine, then put it right back in the binder when I’m finished.  Yes, I still have to put the binder back on the shelf, but that only takes a few seconds.

Just in case you were wondering I haven’t let go of my obsession for color-coding I’ve now started buying red binders for Language Arts.  I use pretty printed scrapbook paper for the front and spines of the binders, if they aren’t already colored.  I make a cute cover and adhere it to the scrapbook paper.  I then laminate it so it can slide easily into the cover of the binder.  Here’s a trick, I discovered, maybe you already know this- when inserting the piece for the spine, open up the binder bending the covers backwards towards each other. This helps to slide the spine right in without bending the paper. 

The best place I’ve found to buy binders is Costco for the white ones and Target or Walmart for the colored ones.  As for those page protectors, Costco wins hands down.  They have the best price and they are nice and sturdy. 

So, I hope I’ve inspired you or at least got you thinking about how you keep your files.  This was a huge task that couldn't be done overnight, but you can make it a weekend project or add to your "To Do" list for the summer.  
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