On the third day of back to school, my principal gave to me, three supply bins with a mixed-up set of TEs.
Okay. I know that this post may not resonate with some of you because organization is not your thing, but organization is my thing. In fact, that is the first thing that many of my co-workers will tell you about me– “She’s so organized!” Organization is my thing, at home and at school. To prove it, here’s a picture of my office, The Routty Math Teacher’s headquarters (to the right).
With that said, today’s post is about organization. I am a true believer that organization and efficiency go hand-in-hand, so I spend a lot of time thinking about how to keep my classroom organized. Believe it or not, with a little advance preparation and organization, your students can accomplish more in less time. With my game boxes, I have been able to train my students to get two sets of game markers and a game board and then play one or more rounds of Connect Four and Connect Five in less than 10 minutes. This allows me the opportunity to use games as starters or as a quick brain break from an intense lesson sequence.
This level of efficiency takes preparation and planning. To support you with this goal, I have three organizational tips that I would like to share with you.
- Because we play lots of games in my classes, I like to have my game materials ready to go in an instance. Once, when I was shopping at Staples, I ran across some cute little half-cup containers. Given my
hoardingcreative personality, I grabbed a couple of sets with the thought that I would surely find a use for them. When the year got started and I found my class playing lots of cover-up type games where the students needed markers of some sort, it was a pain to have to either put the markers in bags or drop a handful on each student’s desk. But then I remembered my little containers. They were the perfect size for the markers. I decided to use the containers for game markers. I put transparent chips in half of the cups and centimeter cubes in the others (two manipulatives that I seemed to have an abundance of lying around). I then stored the containers in a basket in a location with which the students were familiar so that the basket could be grabbed easily when we needed it for games. See the picture to the right for the final product!
- After creating the game marker containers, I began to get excited about organizing my supplies for easy distribution and began looking for other ways to organize my materials. Then, I remembered a handful of extra school boxes that I had picked-up at Walmart when they had them on sale for 50 cents each. (At the time of this article, they are the same price!) I decided to use them to create game boxes that could be easily distributed during math and station time or could be grabbed by students as needed. These game boxes included two boxes of playing cards, four dice, two pennies, and four markers (enough materials for a table group of four). The variety of materials covered the majority of the games we played in class and the boxes could be conveniently stored in a cabinet where the students could grab a box as needed for class activities. See the picture to the right for the final product!
- The last organizational tip I want to share is in regards to organizing math manipulatives. Over the years, I have managed to create quite a collection and when I need to find a tool, it helps to have them in labeled tubs. I purchased the shoebox-size plastic tubs at Wal-mart, but they can be found in a variety of stores. This way of organizing does take a bit of space, but it will save a lot of time in the long run. See the picture below for the final product!
Freebie Alert: Click here to grab a set of labels that can be used to help identify the materials in each math tub.
These are just a few of the ways that I keep my classroom running smoothly. Stayed tuned tomorrow for more tips and strategies to get your year started on the right foot.
Sound Off: How do you stay organized?