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Mar 28, 2015
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Classroom Organization Tips from Veteran Teachers

  • Use accordion folders with 10 to 14 slots to organize anything. It helps to keep assignments, activities, quizzes, tests, and lecture notes in order.

    Beth Hayes
    West Liberty, WV
    Grade Levels: 9-12

  • Teach your class an attention code. I say "Hey" in a sing-song voice and the class responds with "Ho." This code alerts the children that they need to stop whatever they are doing and immediately look in my direction. This is useful in the classroom when the students are working in centers and I need their attention. If we are on the playground, my class is quickly distinguished from the others by this code.

    Angie Dulaney
    Delhi Elementary School
    Delhi, LA
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Make a file folder for each child for all parent/teacher communication. Then all year you have a concise record of every note you have either written to or received from parents.

    Jerri McCreless
    Brookwood Elementary School
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Collect the kids' school supplies at the beginning of the year so they don't overfill the desks and floors. Label them with their names and do a bimonthly supply restocking.

    Jane Armbruster
    University Park Creative Arts School
    Charlotte, NC
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • You don't have to grade and record every paper or piece of writing. As a new teacher, I felt I had to read through every piece of their work, write comments, and record nearly everything in the grade book. Prioritize what work is important enough to grade, note which students aren't catching on, and then recycle the rest of the papers and worksheets!

    St. Cecilia School
    St. Louis, MO
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • At the beginning of a new quarter give each student a piece of paper with three bathroom passes drawn on it. They may use them during the quarter, but if they do not, add extra points to their report card grades. It motivates the students to use the restroom during their normal breaktimes, and really cuts back on classtime disruptions!

    Marissa Hurley
    Mt. Carmel School
    Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Assign each child the number that corresponds to the number in the grade book. Each child writes that number in the upper right-hand corner of everything that has to be turned in. With this done, I can simply put the papers in numerical order and call out any missing numbers. It also helps with recording grades in the grade book and saves loads of time.

    Angie Dulaney
    Delhi Elementary School
    Delhi, LA
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Make a class list with columns. Draw the necessary columns next to the students' names and assign headings that are appropriate for that specific list. It can be used to keep up as students bring in supplies, money for field trips, and important signed forms.

    Sybil Derderian
    Shrine of the Little Flower Elementary School
    Royal Oak, MI
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Offer extra credit when you need papers back ASAP. Give the extra credit to all that return the papers within two days!

    Jennell Ward
    Pines Middle School
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    Grade Levels: 6-8

  • Make an "Appointment Clock" at the beginning of each quarter. Draw an outline of a clock, but only label the times 12, 3, 6, and 9. Next to these numbers I draw a line. I run off enough for each student and use a different color for each quarter. Then give students 3 minutes to get an appointment (or partner) for each of the times. They must have four different people and can not repeat the previous quarter. They clip it into their binder and the next time I say, "Meet with your 12 o'clock partner" they know exactly who to go to.

    JodiLyn Simmons-Machota
    Dirksen School
    Joliet, IL
    Grade Levels: 6-8

  • The first week of school, write all of your student's names on 3"x5" notecards. When looking for "helpers," taking turns reading, or answering questions refer to the names on the cards. This will give everyone an equal chance and keep them on their toes. Use a blank card to separate the beginning and end; when you get to the blank card shuffle the cards before going on. It also cuts down on discipline problems because if students are not doing what they should be, then they forfeit their turn.

    Patti Kopp
    Sigel Elementary School
    St. Louis, MO
    Grade Levels: K-2

  • When I was a new teacher, I amassed materials. That was 12 years ago. Since then, I have taught many different subjects and ability levels. I have also moved classrooms more times than I can count. With the wonder of the Internet and scanners and CD burners, it is no longer necessary to carry (and move) loads of papers and books everywhere. If I were starting out now, I would
    a)choose a color-code system and stick to it from the get-go, and
    b)store as much electronically as possible.
    I'm preparing to go back to school to a new position and have spent much of the summer re-organizing, cleaning out files (wow, the things I'd forgotten I had!) and minimizing clutter. If only I'd started out that way!

    Good luck to all new teachers!

  • Shyrl Cone
    Third Grade Teacher
    Hartland, Michigan

  • Make sure you find out bus numbers for each child before school starts if you are a kindergarten, first grade or special education teacher.


More Advice from Veteran Teachers


Children's Choice Book Awards
We love books! Encourage students to vote for their favorite children's book, author, and illustrator of the year at Funbrain and Poptropica. Teens can make their picks too. Read the complete list of nominated books, as well as related activities, and get voting!

April Calendar of Events
April is full events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum. Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event, including: April Fool's Day (begins 4/1), Passover (begins sundown 4/3), Easter (4/5), Name Yourself Day (4/9), Encourage a Young Writer Day (4/10), Library Week (4/12-18), Volunteer Week (4/12-18), Holocaust Remembrance Day (begins sundown 4/15), Poison Prevention Week (4/15-21), Earth Day (4/22), Tell a Story Day (4/27), International Jazz Day (4/30). Plus, celebrate Deaf History Month (3/15-4/15), Mathematics Education Month, National Poetry Month, and Youth Sports Safety Month!

Teaching with Comics: Galactic Hot Dogs
Reach reluctant readers and English-language learners with comics! Our original teaching guides to the Galactic Hot Dogs comic series (chapters 1-4 and 5-8), as found on Funbrain.com, will take students on a cosmic adventure while engaging their creative minds. Plus, find even more activities for teaching with comics, featuring many other classic stories.

Poptropica Teaching Guides
Poptropica is one of the Internet's most popular sites for kids—and now it's available as an app for the iPad! It's not just a place to play games; each of the islands featured on the site provides a learning opportunity. Check out our teaching guides to four of Poptropica's islands: 24 Carrot Island, Time Tangled Island, Mystery Train Island, and Mythology Island.

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