Friday, July 23, 2010

Organizing the Classroom

One interesting side effect of teaching is the feeling that you are a seasoned veteran when you are in your early 30s :) I don't feel like an "old" teacher, but am one of the most experienced teachers in my department. However, no matter how long I've taught, I still hope I feel like a first year teacher :) One of the joys of teaching is the fun of back to school shopping. For me, that not only includes fun new school supplies, but also looking at new ways to organize my classroom. I love finding ways to make my life more streamlined, so several of my favorite "teacher books" are actually ones aimed at new teachers and the chapter that I always love to read is the one on classroom forms. So I decided to share my favorite forms with you, the ones that truly make my life easier...

FYI - I did lose some formatting and almost all of my cool fonts when uploading these to google docs, but hopefully you get the idea :)

Weekly Planner
While I absolutely love digital toys, there is something about physically crossing items off a list that just makes me happy :) I print off 36 copies of this form and put it into a 3 brad folder w/ clear cover. This acts as my to-do list, lesson planner, appointments, etc. This is pretty much my brain during the school year. I cannot claim original ownership though - I did find this online several years ago and have adapted to fit my needs :)

Textbook Checkout Form and Book Roster
One of the issues that plagues most schools is keeping track of textbooks. For me, I've tried about everything from notecards to list making, etc. But finally I settled on this combination of forms that helps to simplify my life. When I hand out textbooks, students get the quarter sheet to fill out with their info, rating, and comments. My student aide then transcribes that info onto the Book Roster. I use the book roster throughout the year to do book checks for our holds list and then when a student turns in their textbook, I give them back their quarter sheet as a receipt. That way, if I accidently turn them into the office for an outstanding book, they have proof of having turned it in.

Cornell Notes Bookmark
A few years ago, I was at AVID training and our presenter had a bookmark that he made for his students. The bookmark can be customized with whatever information you want on it - grading policy, contact info, Costa's levels of questions, etc. I encourage all of my students to use Cornell Notes (and required w/ AVID students), but I hate the messiness of a hand drawn line. The idea here is for the students to put the bookmark in their notebook and use the right edge to draw a straight line down their paper. I copy this onto cardstock for my students and then while watching a great movie, spend a ton of time cutting them out :)

Attendance Sheet
Many moons ago, I used to keep track of my attendance in my paper gradebook. However, I didn't like the cluttered look, so instead, I use this instead. Since an entire quarter can fit on one page, I hole punch these and put into a 3 prong folder that stays on my podium. I put the seating chart for the class on the opposite page so that when I open my folder, I have the seating chart and attendance all facing me. Also, since it's a Word table, I can copy/paste my roster and don't have to write in the names!

Birthday Calendar
In the past, I've had students neatly write their name on this calendar and I've posted the monthly names on my birthday board. For this year, however, I read somewhere about a teacher that has the kids decorate an index card with their name, hour, and birthday and then she just posts the cards during that month instead. I really like this idea, so I will probably not use the calendar, but thought some of you might find it useful :) (Again, sorry about the formatting!)

Final Thoughts
What forms and organization tools do you find useful in the classroom?


Lisa said...

I love the forms you shared - I can see using some of them. I have a copy form that fit 4 to a page for central copying that I use often. I have (in the past) also prepared generic half sheets of paper with a place for student name, period, and a blank place for assignment missed. I don't do that anymore - this year in particular, I will expect them to check the web as to what we did in clsss. We also have a sign out/in sheet for the restroom I use.

I really liked the weekly calendar form - I have thought about doing that in the past (like you, I like using technology but there is something about being able to visually see the list printed out and cross things off). I'll have to think if I have any more forms I can share.

KFouss said...

I'm seconding Lisa on the love for your forms. :) Thanks for sharing! I'm definitely going to use the notecard/birthday calendar thing, especially with my homeroom (if I have one).