Diggin' Into Next Year: Classroom Organization

I know many of you are already enjoying the lazy days of summer.  I still have another week with my kids before summer break begins.  Summer for me is a time for the 3 Rs.....Relax, Recharge, and Reflect.  
I am joining Laura with Where the Magic Happens for a summer linky party to spark reflection and get some great ideas for the new school year.  
Here is the schedule of topics that will be covered each week.
Organize My Classroom
This is one of my favorite organizational tips that has saved me a BUNCH of time over the past couple of years.
I use a ton of leveled readers for small group instruction in my classroom.  I love how I am able to provide just the right text for each student, but making copies of so many books eats into my paper supply....not to mention it can become extremely time consuming.  A couple of years ago, I began the process of binding the books using duct tape.  I make seven copies of each book....that allows for one for each student in a small group, one for me, and an extra one just in case.  Some of these books are now four years old and still in great shape!
I store each set of books in a ziplock bag.  
I store the sets of books in clear tubs with labels from Really Good Stuff.  This makes it easy to find the book(s) that I am needing for the week.  This system has saved a bunch of time and I made it through this entire year without having to copy a single book because I already had the ones I needed.  
One area of classroom organization that still drives me crazy is PENCILS....ugh!  We start the school year with hundreds of nice new pencils and can't seem to find a single one by Thanksgiving because they have been chewed on, broken, or just lost.  After spending way too much money on pencils for my class this year, I decided to try mechanical pencils.  My thinking.....maybe the kids will think they are special and take better care of them.  
Well...I was wrong!  This is what the pencils looked like after just a couple of days.  That same night, I saw a post on Instagram from a 2nd grade teacher....wish I could remember who it was so I could give credit.  This teacher had commented that she used pens with her 2nd graders to stop the constant chaos caused by pencils.  At first, I thought that would never work!  Then, I decided I was desperate enough to try anything!  
So, I went to the store and purchased three packages of basic pens for about $4.00.  I know these pens can be purchased at a much better price during the back to school sales, but I thought it was a pretty good deal for this time of the year.  Then, I dug into my supply of washi tape....have I mentioned....I LOVE washi tape??? I labeled each pen with a different pattern and passed one out to each of my kids.  I am VERY happy to report that four weeks later....not a single pen has been lost.  This is nothing short of a miracle for this group of kids!  I was worried that their papers would be a complete mess if they used pens, but actually the opposite was true.  Their handwriting was neater and I taught them how to draw a single line through a mistake instead of scribbling it out.  The result has been peace and harmony in Pencil Land...and I couldn't be happier!
You won't want to miss out on the other fabulous classroom organizational tips given my some of my blogging buddies.  Just click on the image above.  Also, be sure to stop back by next week as we take a look at Math Workshop.
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  1. thanks for sharing. I am moving up with my firsties to second and we already voted before school ended - fun pens next year for writing! Glad it worked well for you!

  2. This is very interesting, I have always insisted on pencils because it seemed like the thing to do, but since you mentioned it, I already have several good reasons for allowing pens. When using pencils, students fall into two categories, those who continue to use dull pencils until the wood scrapes on the paper, or students who insist they need a sharpened pencil after each sentence they write. Also, I often find out they are wasting huge amounts of time erasing things--and sometimes its things I WANTED to be able to see.
    Not very fancy

    1. Deb,
      I was like you....write with pencils because that is how it is supposed to be done. But....after my little experiment, the pros of using pens outweigh the cons, in my opinion.

  3. I am fascinated by the pen idea. Do you even do that for math? How does that work?

  4. Karen,
    Yes, this past month I have used pens for math as well. I just taught the kids to do a simple cross out for mistakes. Since, they can't erase I have been able to see their thought processes a little better as well.

  5. I love using pens, especially for writing and math! Two areas where seeing the path taken is just as important as the final product! Thanks for sharing!

    Theresa @ True Life I'm a Teacher!


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