Smooth Sailing Back to School Tips

Hey everyone! I hope you've had a chance to sail over to my friends' blogs and read their advice for smooth sailing into a new year. We want to share our tips and tricks to get you on your way to a new (and smooth) year!


For my school year to get off to a smooth start, I always need to have everything ready to go and at my fingertips, so I don't have to lose a moment searching for anything. Here are some of the best ways I have been able to have everything ready and instantly accessible for those beginning weeks:

1. Make Student Supplies Easily Accessible
I like to have all the supplies my students will need during the day right at their fingertips (no roaming around the classroom!!). So last year I tried Student Toolboxes:

These toolboxes hold everything we normally use in a school day and worked like an absolute dream! No supplies were lost, no supplies were put in the wrong places...everything was right where we needed it:

With all student supplies are easily accessible in one places, activities and transitions run more smoothly, leading to increased instructional time. 

2. Number Student Storage Areas
Those of you who have read my blog over the years know I like to use a numbering system. This is an organizational technique that has helped me in so many ways--especially on the first day of school.

My class list tends to be in flux during the first couple of weeks. Students move away over the summer, newcomer EL students arrive in those first weeks (and not necessarily the first day).

With numbers, I am able to set up the whole classroom in advance, without any names, until my students arrive:

This allows me to have all my students' materials right at my fingertips...actually, at their fingertips!
If you are a fan of the numbering system, pre-numbering student areas will allow you to have all student materials and paperwork ready to go for those first days, before your students even arrive.

3. Label EVERYTHING!!!
This probably sounds like an obvious statement, but I have learned over the years that the more I label every single thing in my room, the less I misplace.

This is the case with my teacher toolbox:


Subject area baskets:
and so many other parts of our classroom.

If something is labeled, you will always put it back where it belongs and be able to find it at a moment's notice.

4. Get Ahead on Copying
This is something I have started getting better about more recently, thanks to the incredible units out there on Teachers Pay Teachers. With so many in-depth and long-term resources, it is possible to prepare units well in advance.

I will be copying numerous resources to get my students and I set up for the month of September, allowing me to have all the papers we need at our fingertips.

Here are just a few of my favorites I'm already prepping for September:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Interactive-Math-Journal-315177
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Calendar-Math-for-the-Upper-Grades-5th-Grade-Starter-Kit-776253
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spelling-with-Morphology-An-Entire-Year-of-Differentiated-Spelling-Lists-1233025

The more you have copied and right at your fingertips, the more time you will have to focus on building those crucial classroom routines in the beginning weeks.

5. First Day Organization
And then there's the first day itself.

No matter how long I've taught I still get those jitters...and that leads to a scattered "Um, where were we? What are we doing next?" feeling that I just cannot have on that first day.

So I made a first day of school sheet to keep track all of the important things I would like to remember for the day.

There are places to record the activities and routines I'll cover for each subject, any important notes from parents I meet that morning, dismissal notes for the first day, things to prep for the next day, and more. I'll be keeping this sheet on a clipboard with me throughout the first day.

Please click on the image below if you'd like to download a copy for your big day:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2ARzMSbNzXNWDFjSjlnRmJpMEU/edit?usp=sharing
Keeping all important information for the first day of school at your fingertips will keep you on track, allowing you to focus on the most important thing--welcoming your students to a new year!

To help you sail smoothly into a new school year, please visit my friends' blogs to read their tips and tricks...

441

Organizing Running Records

Running Records. Love the assessments, can't stand storing the materials. You should have seen the mess I've had over the years. Oh wait, you can! I have photographic evidence...
(promise not to pin these two pics?)

So I knew this would be the a great project for me to tackle this summer for Tara's Monday Made It:
http://4thgradefrolics.blogspot.com/2014/07/monday-made-it-summer-week-6.html
Since I work with an international class of EL newcomers and mainstream students (all 5th grade) I encounter quite the range of reading levels...so I need both of the benchmark kits for our running record assessments.

But they are just awful.

The folders are jam-packed and totally disorganized. And they have to hold both the fiction and nonfiction materials, which leads to this:
 and this:
(don't pin these either please, HA!)

So I decided to do away with those separate kits and bought a huge file box. I also purchased green and blue hanging files (to keep consistent with the green and blue benchmark kits I used to have). 

Most importantly, I bought enough folders to separate the fiction and nonfiction testing materials for each reading level:

which means I can easily get into each folder and grab exactly what I need:
 (I have these labels to share at the end of this post)

I decided not to make a label for this box (shocking, huh?) as it's pretty obvious what it is. But I did want to adorn it with some necessary information...namely some district charts I tend to misplace each trimester.

So I typed up the charts and used a little color-coding to identify the benchmark levels for each grade (the numbers on the left chart are used to enter data online for each level). Then I laminated the charts and velcroed them to the box, so I could grab them when needed:

And I did the same on the other side of the box, for the primary grade levels:

Now I have everything I need, all in one happy, organized box!

If you would like to use the file folder labels, please click on the image below:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2ARzMSbNzXNbDNRMmNFRnNlNUE/edit?usp=sharing
This system would also work well for organizing your guided reading materials. Hmmm...I may have just found my next Monday Made It project! 

I hope some of you can use the file, thanks for visiting!
47
Back to Top