This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. Click here to see his earlier posts, and check back here on our Classroom Literacy blog frequently to see if he's got a new post up! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.
After fifteen years in the same school, I began this summer packing and unpacking due to my decision to change schools. Once the city movers unloaded all my things, this photograph shows my classroom after a week of unpacking. YIKES! After days, it appeared as if I had not accomplished a thing.
Now that the move is behind me, I’m pleased to be able to share some organizational tips with you in this guest blog post. To begin with, an organized classroom library is essential to foster a love of literacy. Here you see a number of blue and orange tubs. These are actually coolers—the kind intended to fill with ice and cold drinks during a hot summer day. They double as sturdy book bins.
I’m always looking for ways to store things. Here you see some orange buckets. They are perfect for holding reading pointers, phonics phones, etc.
Teachers often ask me how I am able to store so many things in my classroom. The answer is that I put bins in high spaces. Here you see clear and colored tubs. In these, I place items that I don’t use on a regular basis, such as fabric, scraps, extra sentence strips, yarn, etc. Over the sink, I store my stickers in photo boxes—one for each month.
A great way to make things look neat and organized is to purchase shoeboxes. They are relatively inexpensive, so you can buy them in great quantity. As you can see, rows of the same container look more uniform and tidy. What you don’t want to be seen, cover with fabric and tension rods. You don’t even need to know how to sew—just use a glue gun.
Another favorite way I keep things organized is by using hardware holders. This handy-dandy organizer is perfect for keeping tiny things in their places. I use it for my student banks (a form of positive rewards), magnetic letters, calendar pieces, etc. I suggest that you always glue an item on the outside for easy ID. Oh, and—BONUS!—they are fairly inexpensive.
If you are like me, you have loads of posters and a lack of wall space, or should I say FREE wall space. To solve this problem, get a portable clothes-hanger rack. These are way sturdier, less bulky, and cost tons less money than a pocket chart stand. I use one to organize my charts for instruction. This way they are easily accessible. I can put one up using the hanger and do not need to fuss over tape. Easy up, easy down.
I hope you have gained an idea or two and are off to organize your classroom. As I always say, an organized classroom is a well-managed classroom.
I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.
Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.
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