Let's Get Organized!

I've always felt like organization should be considered a category of multiple intelligence.  There are some people that are naturally stronger in this area than others.   It seems to be intuitive to them, just like the person who can play the piano by ear.  Other people can take piano lessons and become a proficient at playing the piano.  But, they needed guidance to get to that level of competence.  

I'm sure you can name at least three students in your class that you would consider organization to be one of their multiple intelligence.  Seventy to eighty percent of your class are probably competent for their age level.  You may observe the following with the other 10% - 20% of your class:
  • Incomplete classwork
  • Difficulty beginning assignments during work time because he or she is looking for supplies that are broken, missing, or hard to find in their messy desk
  • Turning in homework on an inconsistent basis
  • Lost hat, gloves, lunchbox, library book, etc.
  • Backpack is rarely zipped all the way because it is so full of wadded up papers, wrappers from snacks, special toys, etc.
  • Forgot to turn in picture money in time
  • Forgot to turn in field trip permission slip in time
  • Last students to leave the classroom at dismissal time because they are still looking for coat, backpack, hat, etc.
  • Last child to line up at recess because he or she is looking for the ball, jump rope, etc.

I like to teach in small groups as much as possible.  My students are used to groups changing frequently.  I have a clothesline that I hang sheets of colored paper that tell who is in different groups.  Each group is a different color of paper.  My groups are numbered.  It says Group #1 and list the names of the students.  Some students may be in 5 different groups.  Another student may be in 3 groups.  I have different amounts of groups depending on the need.  

One of my groups is for organization.  At the beginning of the year, I have this group sit at a table together.  If you have desks, I would recommend that you ask your custodian to find you a table to use with this group. Tables work much better because they have fewer cubby holes to stuff their papers and supplies in.  Students at this table have very few supplies.  They each have a supply box with 8 crayons (out of the cardboard box), scissors, glue stick, and 2 pencils.  I have found when they have 24+ crayons they take longer to complete their work because they either take a long time to choose a color or they want to use every color in their crayon box on every assignment.

During the first few weeks of school, we work very hard to learn the morning routine.  I greet students at the door.  They go and stand behind their chair.  One table at a time is dismissed to put away their backpacks and lunch boxes. Then the students go back to their desk/table and get out their binder.  I like to use a binder system to organize everything.  Each year I change the name of the binder to match the theme of my classroom.  Here is where I got the idea:

Click HERE to learn about this organizational system.

Click HERE for a list of acronyms.

When everyone has had a chance to put away their backpacks and lunch boxes, we work very hard the first few weeks learning to use the binder system.  We go through the binder in the same order each day so they will learn the routine. 

1st - parent note: If there is a note for me, they put it in the corner of their table/desk.  A helper will collect the notes. I have a basket that the helper will put the notes in.  Everything has an assigned place.

2nd - money:  If there is lunch money / book order money / picture money, they get it out and put it in the corner of their table/desk.  A helper will collect the money.   have a basket that the helper will put the notes in.  Everything has an assigned place.

I stress to the parents at Back to School night that money needs to be sent in an envelope or ziplock with their child's first and last name written on it.

3rd - homework:  If there is an assignment to turn in, they get it out and put it in the corner of their table/desk.  I have one person from each person's reading group collect their group's homework.  If I need to reteach/review something in small group, my papers are already sorted by group for me.  If students have a reading book that they need to exchange for a new one, they put it in the corner of their desk until they have permission to exchange it.

You might include other sections to your binder.  I think the important thing is to have a routine and teach your students the system at the beginning of the year.

During this time, I stand near the organization group's table to make sure they are following the steps.  Close supervision is important!

At dismissal time, we do a shortened version of this.  Once again, we open to the same section at the same time and put our homework assignment in at the same time, etc.  I am near the organization group's table to closely supervise them again.

After a few weeks, the majority of your class will know the routine and will be able to follow it without prompting from you.  At this time, I will continue to give verbal directions to the organization table if I see they have forgotten a step.  Eventually I will stop the verbal directions and give them a picture/written list of steps to follow.  Some of these students will need this visual cue the entire year.

After we are past the verbal direction stage, I dismiss the organization group 5 minutes before the rest of the class.  They need more time to prepare to go home.  It helps when there are only a few students getting their coats or lunch boxes.

One of the things parents usually ask me at Back to School night is how do my students respond to the different groups.  I think they worry that a student might be looked down upon because he/she needs more help from the teacher.  I explain that once the system is up and running and the students see how often the groups are changed, students move in and out of groups based on need, it no longer is a problem.  

1 comment

Rae said...

Great ideas! I love how you broke down each part of your day and your tips to keep your classroom organized and managed. If you are interested, I would love for you to share this post on my first linky for classroom management tips. You can find the post here if you wish


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