I undertook after my first year of teaching was the single best thing I did all year. It has saved me so much time and continues to do so.
Martina Bex and Angela Watson both really helped me figure this out for myself. But remember- before teaching, I was an opera stage manager, and an exceptionally organized one!
Why I organize my stuff:
- I mostly teach with a particular curriculum (SOMOS)
- I want to spend as little time looking for things or prepping as possible.
- I want to be able to grab what I need (e.g. I have a great follow up reading that talks about that thing that came up in class, or I have a song activity that I found on the interwebs that is perfect for tomorrow because this kid sang it today, etc.) quickly.
- I want a place to collect things that I find from the internet.
- I want a place to keep notes about what did and did not work.
- I want a system to collect reflections.
Things to consider when thinking about your own organizational system:
- As you are planning (if you do such a thing), how do you think about your units/strucutures/whatever? Do you group them in your head? This is important for consistency.
- If you are totally non-targeted, you probably still use movietalks and other digital resources, and you would probably benefit from organizing them.
- How would you like to keep track of ideas that you find on the interwebs?
- How would you like to keep track of homerun activities and stories? How are you going to collect your reflections?
I decide what to call things FIRST. My units are called Unit1-Dice, Unit 2-Camina o corre, after the unit titles the curriculum designer gave them. Everywhere that I have materials they are called the same thing. It is HUGELY important.
Materials that I use for paper organization:
- small lidded boxes (from IKEA) that are big enough to put file folders in
- page protectors
- vertical file folders and file holder
- large zip lock bags
- Paper copies of the basic outline of activities to write and reflect on.
In a binder:
Each unit is divided by a labelled, tabbed divider with a pocket.
Each unit has:
- The basic outline of what I am going to do. Here is an example. (Feel free to make a copy and use it). Note that it has a LOT of space to write notes on.
- All the handouts that I am going to give to the students for me to have on hand.
- Directions or explanations for games and activities as needed.
- In a page protector (I like the ones that take 25 sheets at a time), all the master copies: things that I want to copy and pass out. This may be readings, song activities, assessments, etc.
- A post it note (if I think I need it) to remind me of where I put the manipulatives.
- I make a (very, very simple) cover and vertical title to go on the vertical binder edge. I use the exact same name. I also made an index. Yes, this took time, BUT the payoff is that I truly know where things are supposed to go.
|Index in a page protector at front|
In the vertical file folders
- Input based games that involves manipulatives.
- I make a file folder for each game and call it [Unit name +game name], e.g. "8-Chain reaction".
- I usually make games and put each set in an envelope or small zip-lock with a label, and then put those in the file.
In lidded boxes: Novel units
I found that I needed to do something different for novels because I had a lot more going on for novels, and they usually needed more space than a binder. This is where large zip-lock bags come in. I also use lidded boxes for my breakouts. More about that later.
|Lidded boxes from IKEA, with labels|
- Novel sets if they fit.
- All the manipulatives, by chapter. Sometimes these are just clipped together by binder clip with a post-it note (but each game set says "Esperanza, cap. 7, timeline" or whatever it is) and sometimes I will keep stuff in a large zip lock. My naming protocol for novels is [title, chapter, activity name].
- If there are special props that I don't want in the general prop box, I put them in the lidded box as well. For instance, I have a three little pigs unit and those costumes are *NOT* in the general use box because I hand made the wolf costume.
- I still have a binder with paper and plans, kept with all my other binders.
In lidded boxes: Input based stations
If I am going to take the time to create input based stations, which are hard to prep, I want to make sure they are grab-and-go. I keep stations in large zip lock bags with all the paperwork.
- Masters for copies that need to be made, in page protectors,
- Folders with station materials in each.
In lidded boxes: Breakouts and Breakout supplies
It took me a while to figure out how to store breakout supplies. This is what I finally came up with. Note: When I do breakouts, I create enough materials for teams of kids to compete, so I need 4-6 copies of all the materials, plus pens, tracking sheets, etc. for each team. This is how I decided to organize it:
- Large zip lock with small baggies of team supplies: UV light pen and hint cards
- Large ziplock with envelopes for disposable team supplies: stickers or tickets, tracking sheets, scrap paper
- Strong bag with locks, ring binders with combos for every lock, divided by breakout, and extra keys.
- Extra large zip locks with game folders, labeled by game.
- Plastic folder with master copies of team tracking sheet, teacher forms, etc., my uv pen
- Page protector with all combos, all lock directions.
- I keep the locks inside the box, with a tag of the CURRENT combination.
|Notebooks in Evernote|
- Dropbox folders: electronic copies of everything in folders with the same name as I used for the binders, including downloaded videos from youtube.
- An evernote notebook to keep track of things that I find around the interwebs that might connect, even loosely (the tag function in evernote is amazing),
- Youtube playlist for video resources- all with the same name.
- iTunes playlist for "Class songs" by class AND a Master Class songs playlist.
- I have not taken the time to be super organized about google drive, because if I find something I love there, I just download it (in a perfect world) and save it to my dropbox.
THINGS THAT DON'T FIT UNDER UNITS HAVE THEIR OWN BINDER and/or DROPBOX FOLDER (OR TAG)
- General games (mafia, circumlocution, etc.)
- Forms that I use all the time (freewrite form, password collector, missing work form, absent student tracking, etc.)
- Beginning of the year: Things that I only use during the first weeks of school, like my syllabus, my cuaderno set up instructions, form for parents, personal inventory, etc.
- TPRS activities that can be used for any story or text. (these are mostly just electronically stored in my dropbox)
If you use a mac, look up how to use TAGS.
- Frequently displayed: Things that I show often or always have a "frequently displayed" tag in my finder (macbook). This may be directions for an activity that we do all the time or visuals for a favorite brain break, etc. (electronic only)
- Signs and labels (electronic only)
- printouts for FVR (electronic only)
- Class lists and info, divided by school year and class (electronic only)
- Business (PD, budget, documentation) (electronic only)
- Rubrics that I use (electronic only)