Optimum Organization: It's All in the Numbers


Hi and welcome to another week of Optimum Organization! 

One more day and I am officially on summer vacation! I can't wait to catch up with everyone and their wonderful ideas for keeping things running smoothly :)

Today I wanted to share one of the top organizational methods that has truly made a huge difference in my classroom. It's neither new or original, as so many teachers have turned to this system over the years. 

But it did take this teacher 'til her 11th year to figure out how useful it was! 

It was numbering my students.

After reading so many great ways of organizing students by numbers, I decided to give it a try last summer. I didn't realize at the time how much I would end up using this system in class this year! 

Here are some of the ways I've use student numbers to keep my class organized this past year (the green links below the pictures will take you to the original posts and free downloads for each):
Number Drawers for Student Materials (original post here)

Numbering and Highlighting Papers (original post here)

Managing Pencils (original post here)

I know we always say this to one another, but isn't it funny how the littlest thing can make such a big difference in your classroom?

I love the numbering system so much, for so many reasons. Numbers are...
  • Orderly: students can be numbered in alphabetical order (at least, until a new student arrives!). Everything can be kept in numerical order and managed by the students. Workbooks sorted by numbers? Not a problem for my class to find their books or to put them away.
  • Easy to Remember: all of my students can be assigned a number and remember it with ease, even if they are a newcomer student just learning English. They remember them better than their teacher, in fact! ;)
  • Ideal for Management Systems: many of my management systems were ideas that evolved later in the year (The Great Pencil Challenge didn't come about 'til this spring, for example). Yet the numbers are extremely easy to incorporate into any system you might envision.
  • Eye-Catching: Ok, so this last one sounds a bit flaky, but it's true! Numbers are lovely design-wise. They don't take up a lot of space on a label and they look nice and uniform throughout the classroom.
Do you use student numbers in your classroom? How do you use them?

And!

Would you like to link up with Elizabeth and I? If so, please join in on the fun below...

31 comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your numbering ideas! Have a wonderful weekend! Eye-catching is always important, I think... :0)

    Smiles,
    Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

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  2. Kristen,
    I have used numbers that past few years. I use them in the ways you mentioned....but for me it really works when lining them up for bathroom break..I will say line up High to Low or Low to High...line up Willie Nellie-that means mix it up. During Fire Drill it has proven essential. I will even call out odd, even..so we are doing Math and they don't even realize it. when we pair share..I may say #3 and #7 hook up..I think what ever is easiest for you . The kids enjoy it as well. :)
    Thanks for sharing.
    Debbie

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  3. I number my kiddos too! I use it on their mailboxes and cubbies so I don't have to relabel them every year. They are always so excited to learn their numbers at the beginning of the year :)

    Sarah
    A Sunny Day in First Grade

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  4. I have ALWAYS used numbers, I don't think I could function without them! We use them for everything. If I am making a list of missing work, I use their numbers instead of their names- faster. I have number cards that are in a pocket chart in random order that shows when it is someone's turn on the computer. Number cards for library checkout. Put the card where the book came from so they know where the book belongs when they finish. Numbers on mailboxes for paper return. We line up in number order ALWAYS. (Of course sometimes some kids have to change places in line bc of behavior.) The list goes on and on.
    Gina
    Third Grade Tidbits

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  5. I use numbers as well and I wouldn't have it any other way! :) Much easier for the kids as well!

    -Allison
    Adventures in Room 204

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  6. Not sure if it will make you feel any better but it took me 22 years to do this! DUH! I started doing it this year and it works like MAGIC. I hate trying to alphabetize work and this makes it so much easier. Everything can be organized this way...IN FACT YOU JUST GAVE ME AN IDEA! (Did you hear the sizzle?) I have been using a CAN filled with large popsicle sticks with the student names on them to use for draws etc. BUT if I just numbered them, I could use them again year after year! Thanks for giving me some inspiration! Have a great Saturday...it's rainy and dull in Toronto:(
    Sidney
    Teachingisagift

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  7. I am so glad you are finally almost done for the summer! I love the idea of numbering items. It is great because you can reuse items each year because you just reassign a student to that number! Whoever came up with this idea many of year ago was a genius! Have a great last couple of days of school!

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  8. I learned about using numbers in my classroom when I was student teaching. It saves so much time! I can re-use a lot of materials from the year before since they have numbers on them instead of names. My second graders never forget their numbers. The most important way I use numbers, though, is to line students up during a fire drill. They can easily line themselves up (without talking) and it is super quick and easy to tell who is in line and who is missing.

    Sara :)
    Smiling In Second Grade

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  9. I love numbers too :) Thanks for hosting!

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  10. I also use numbers in my classroom and it is a HUGE time saver! I have kids turn in their homework in "reverse number order" so that when I have them in a pile, they are already in the order of my grade book. When I have to take a quick head count (field trips, fire drills, etc.) I call off numbers & the kids say "here!" Love it!

    Jennifer
    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

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  11. I couldn't do without my numbers! They make life so much easier, no? :) Thanks for so many opportunities to link up this summer. I can finally get in the act here! :)

    Stephanie
    Teaching in Room 6

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  12. I sort of "dabbled" with the number system this year but I think I really need to commit this coming school year. I love the pencil challenge and I am definitely numbering the pencils!!!!! Last year I tried velcroing the pencils to their desk - I think your way is easier:)
    I have a side question - When I popped over to look at your "Number and Highlight" post I noticed your oval-like labels on your baskets with the subjects. How do you get that more rounded rectangle. The only shape I can seem to find is a rectangle with the corners rounded. I like how the whole end of your rectangle is rounded. Could I say "rounded" any more times...lol!
    Thanks!
    ~Natalie
    Natalies Nook

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  13. I started using numbers about my second or third year of teaching, but it wasn't because of organization. As I was trying to pull the old class name stickers off of the cubbies, I thought about using a number instead. I really don't like sticker residue, it drives me crazy for some reason. After I used the numbers for that, I numbered their journals. that made it easy for any one to put a stray journal back in it's cubbie. That worked so well, I endedup numbering lockers and homework folders. It's a great system!

    Kelly
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

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  14. I numbered my students the last two years, and it has been awesome. I love the idea of numbering their pencils, though- I think I will definitely do this next year, because I am tired of students saying "I don't have a pencil" when there were just 6 pencils at their table during the last activity! I also love that I don't have to re-label stuff- I did it once, and now I can use it again and again. Saves time and money!

    Erica
    Blooming In First

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  15. I didn't start numbering until last year, my 20th year and I thought why didn't I do this sooner. I go reverse abc order because as a child with a letter late in the alphabet I got tired of being one of the last aaaaalllllllllll the time.

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  16. I have used numbers for many years and I LOVE it!! It makes things so much easier!! We have everything numbered - lockers, mailboxes, book bags, name tags, etc. I love your idea of the great pencil challenge and that is something I will do for sure with my 2nd graders next year!! They were constantly losing pencils last year and this way we will know who's pencil is the one we find on the floor on cabinet. Thanks for the idea!!

    Carrie
    Table Talk with C & C

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  17. I took to numbering pencils this year, too! I was so tired of them disappearing all the time. It helped tremendously!

    Natalie
    Teachery Tidbits

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  18. Using numbers have saved me so much time! I love your last reason. It does make things look cohesive and pretty!
    Elizabeth
    Fun in Room 4B

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  19. I have seen this over and over again in the blog world - it definitely looks like something I will have to keep in mind. Thanks for the tip!

    Love to Learn

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  20. I love using student numbers and I love everything about this linky party!! Just linked up for the first time and am excited to link up again in the weeks ahead!

    Thanks so much!
    Becca
    First Grade in Foxwell Forest

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  21. Kristen, I loved your numbering pencil idea and I did that towards the end of the year. I number lots of other things, but hadn't tried that. I also have their numbers on their book tubs, their mailboxes, their "Take Home" folders, and on their hooks in the closet area. It is great for when a child has gotten sick and I have to round up their belongings so they can go home--no guessing which backpack and coat is theirs. I also labeled their chairs so nobody says, "Someone stole my chair!" :)
    Corinna
    ♥Teaching Fabulous Firsties!♥

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  22. Agreed...couldn't survive without numbering everything! It's funny how attached they get to their number too! When we get a new student, some students get shuffled to a new number to keep the list in ABC order. That takes a few days for everyone to get used to!
    The Teacher Chick

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  23. Hi Kristen!
    Great post on NUMBERING! I agree that I would be a LOST little puppy without this vital system in my classroom. Just the fact that it saves so much time "recreating" labels and materials from year to year. We can keep the same set of numbers EVERY year and it is so easy-peasy to get the kids on board too! Thanks for hosting!!
    Julie
    Ms. Marciniak's First Grade Critter Cafe

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  24. I think numbers are my number one favorite organizing tool! I use them for many of the same things you mentioned, plus I keep folder system for each student to hold notes, conference materials and other goodies that I number also. I makes it easy to use again and again, plus it helps with confidentiality too. I can have multiple folders out to go over, but no one besides the students and myself knows who they belong too.
    Thanks for hosting!
    ♬Kay
    On the Trail of Learning

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  25. Great idea, can't wait to try this next year. Any tips about how to do this when you have some different children for maths and literacy?

    Lou

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    Replies
    1. I plan on using numbers with my literacy classes. I will have 3 different groups. For my first group I thought about adding -A to each number, second class -B , and third class -C. Example.... 1-A, 2-A, etc.

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  26. & btw--happy almost last day! You deserve it :) My last day with kids is tomorrow, and then we have 2 teacher days before the official start of summer.

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  27. Hi Kristen!
    Thanks for your post, I use numbers, but just for homework and cubbies. I just remembered my college days, where my name was my social security number and it deterred me from doing much with numbers. But your post and your followers' comments are so full of wonderful ideas that I can't wait to use them!
    Thanks :)
    ☼Libby
    First Grade Dual

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  28. I am a new teacher this year, and I use numbers a lot! I numbered m students to make adding their grades easier (I have my students highlight their number on their papers too), and also, it allowed me to number their mailbox, writing folders, and student info folders in my filing cabinet so that they will already be ready for next year. I will just have to make sure they are empty. I just post a list in different places in the room of all of the students' numbers and it makes it really easy for my students to help file things.

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