Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Few of My Favorite (Teacher) Things


I've been wanting to share some of my classroom organizing tips, and I finally got my ducks in a row enough to remember to take my camera to school so I could snap some pictures to share with you.

This first picture is my classroom set of number magnets. Each child is assigned a number which is purely for organizational purposes. I never refer to the kids by their numbers, which is the first thing that parents worry about when you start assigning numbers to their kids.

I get that. But it's not used in an impersonal way so it's really not an issue.

I have to give credit for this brilliant idea to my friend, Janet. She came up with this and it's being used by quite a few teachers in our school now.

As I mentioned, each student has their own number. When they enter the classroom in the morning, their first job is to move their number magnet to their lunch choice for that day. This enables me to take the lunch count and attendance at the same time and with the same tool.


The kids have two choices for lunch each day. The first choice is assigned the color purple, so I write that choice in purple dry erase marker in the first lunch choice section and that is where they move their magnet if they choose that for lunch. The second choice is assigned the color black, so I write that choice in black and the students move their magnets to that section if that is their choice. Finally, if they brought their lunch from home, they move it to that section.

When they're all done, I know how many students want choice number one, how many want choice number two, and the magnets that are still on their numbers are the students that are absent.

It's brilliant and efficient and I love it. Thank you, Janet.

For this system, I just went to Sam's Club and bought a magnetic white board. I sectioned the boxes off with Vis-a-Vis wet-erase markers. I use these because when I go to erase today's lunch choice and put up tomorrow's lunch choice, the border won't erase with the words. You can still erase those lines, but you need something wet to do so. That way you don't have to redraw the lines every day, and that's a big time saver.

I found the different colored flat glass marbles at Robert's and I hot-glued some strong button magnets to the back. I just used a permanent marker to write the numbers on. If you have students in the primary grades, you might want to go for the larger flat glass marbles, because they're still developing their fine motor skills and all that. And they have sweet little chubby fingers and hands.

These are my bathroom, library, and hall passes. They aren't anything fancy.  I also made little corresponding signs which I adhered to jumbo sized popsicle sticks with packing tape. Whenever a student leaves the room, they have to put the sign that goes with their pass into their number pocket so I know where they are.

They do have to get my permission to leave the room first, but my short-term memory stinks so the signs remind me where the missing students are when I look to their desk and wonder where they are.

When I was teaching before, I had my students put a ginormous rubber spider on their desk when they were at the bathroom. If I were teaching middle school, I would probably do that again, except I'd maybe use fake plastic vomit instead of the spider. I would do that for middle school because you rarely have more than one student out of the room at a time. Elementary school is a different story. 

I got this idea from my Organizational Hero, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, who I taught with many years ago. He probably doesn't even remember who I am, but I got scads of anal organizing tips from him. People always ask me why I number my cupboards, and I get that it seems silly, but it can be incredibly helpful when you are asking a student to retrieve something for you and you don't have to waste time trying to describe which cupboard or drawer they can locate an item in. I wouldn't do it for my kitchen cupboards, but in the classroom I wouldn't do it any other way.

Since I first put this post up, I've made new numbers for my cupboards, and you can get some for yourself in this post.

For this last idea I don't have a good picture. But I can tell you what I use these for. I post an agenda on my white board every day because it helps me stay on track and it keeps the kids from constantly asking me what we are going to do next. Many things recur over and over again, so I just typed those things up on the computer, printed them out on white paper, cut them out, adhered them to cardstock, laminated them, and finally I stuck magnets on the back. This way I can just stick the appropriate item up in its place on the agenda, add any details that need to be added, and it saves me lots of time every day.

These are just a few of the things that I do in my classroom to save me time each day.

33 comments:

  1. Great ideas! Your hadwriting is beautiful, by the way. When I was in the classroom I had to type up everything I wanted to look decent!

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  2. If I were a teacher, I'd totally steal your ideas.

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  3. WOw! YOu have some great ideas! I can tell you are a totally organized teacher! I try, but I am definitly nowhere near where you are:)

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  4. Wow, i am impressed and amazed....

    Suzanne

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  5. I love the magnet idea! I am currently trying to figure out how to steal that idea to make it apply to our classroom needs.

    I also assign student numbers, but mine are to help me when grading. As papers are passed in, I assign one student to put them in numerical number for me. Then when I put their scores in my gradebook, I just go right down the row. Major time saver. I assign their numbers based on whose birthday comes first in the school year. That way I always know whose birthday is coming up next. The last person to have a birthday is always the last person on my number list.

    I am amazed that you have 29 kids in your class! I have 31, but that's my total for 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th COMBINED. You are truly a teaching goddess.

    Thanks for posting teacher tips. I know not everyone who reads your site is a teacher, but many of these ideas can be adapted for home use.

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  6. Great ideas - I taught elementary school for 5 years before my oldest was born and now I miss it.

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  7. All great ideas thanks for sharing.

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  8. growing up our cupboards WERE numbered... not visually, but my mom taught us to start at the top and count around the room, and so when she asked us to get something out of the ordinary she'd ask us for "the salad bowl from cupboard 3" worked awesome

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  9. I love the number buttons! Totally my SO's step mom is a teacher and I might pass that along to her! :) I love the title of your post too!

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  10. LOve your ideas...especially the agenda! I wanted to purchase a pocket chart for a daily schedule, but love the magnetic idea. I'm gong to do that tonight!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Blessings,
    Lisa

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  11. Love all your creative ideas!!!
    As a former 1st grade teacher, I would have LOVED all these ideas!!!

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  12. Cute class! I wish that I had enough storage that I needed to label them with numbers. But I only have 19 students this year, so I guess I should not complain.
    I do a similar thing with my lunch menu. Only last year I wised up. The cafeteria only serves about 45 different menu items. So, I typed those up kind of like your agenda. Now on Friday afternoons I look at the menu post them all & have an "A" "B" & "H" slot for them to place the numbers. I tried the magnets, but they kept popping off (I used hot glue). Anyway I now use the calendar squares. I laminated them, & they last & last.

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  13. Hmmm... roaming the halls... Yes, that would be my child most of the day.

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  14. You have got to be the most organized teacher ever!!!! What WONDERFUL ideas!!!

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  15. wait - 10 minutes for recess? you've got to be kidding me.

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  16. Awesome ideas! I'd love to be in your class. :-P

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  17. Wow what an organized teacher! Sounds like a fun room to be in:-)

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  18. I'm not a teacher, but I'm going to think about how I can adapt some of those ideas to home use with my children. I love them all!

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing your tips!

    EWian

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  20. Are you teaching 6th grade? I thought that was what a previous post had said (I'm being lazy and not going back to double check) but this post said you are in elementary... I thought the ideas you were using were great but seemed elementary, not Middle School. I'm confused! In Kentucky, 6th grade is Middle School :)

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  21. Great blog! Just stopping by and wanted to say Hi. You should come check out my blog sometime. I have a couple giveaways going on right now.

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  22. Impressive! You are one organized teacher.

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  23. Great idea's!!!
    I'll be back to visit your blog more often!!

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  24. genius! i'm not a teacher, but i have triplets. that's like a tiny classroom, right? i can definitely learn some organizational tips from you.

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  25. The OCD freak in me just fell in love with the OCD freak in you.

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  26. Snazzy! Wish I could be so organized.

    Stopping by from sITS. Congrats on being featured blogger, you deserved it!

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  27. Fantastic! I love this. You're GOOD!

    Keri

    www.samwich365.com

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  28. Brilliant ideas!! Loved reading this. Thank you.

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  29. You're utterly amazing and I'm in total awe of you---because I'm your antithesis. I'm so not crafty, but I wish I was. I'm lucky if I can glue two pieces of paper together! Ack!

    I am stopping by from SITS and wanted to say a quick hello. I'm glad I've found you and I plan to be back soon to catch up!

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  30. Wow, what cool ideas! I'm a preschool teacher but definitely understand the concepts-- I'll have to see what I can do in my classroom!!

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  31. These are wonderful! I'm forwarding them to my teacher friends asap.

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  32. This is really a brilliant idea... My husband is a teacher and absolutely I will let him read this blog for sure he can adopt your technique in his class. I hope you don't mind if we borrow your idea. It is worth imitating. Thank you for letting us know about it.

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  33. Where did you get the magnets with numbers on them?

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