One might think I own stock in plastic storage solutions, but I don’t. I just realize that a well organized classroom is beneficial for many reasons. Organization leads to students who understand structure and can carry out routines and expectations that you set forth. It also plays a big part in lesson success. Read on to discover my top five favorite storage solutions.
Three years ago I ventured into the world of paperless parent communication and adopted a classroom parent communication app. After careful review and testing, I chose Bloomz as my parent communication app. It keeps my students’ families and me organized on so many different levels! It is robust and covers a lot of different facets of communication that others don’t. You can check out my comparison chart to see the differences for yourself. My favorite part of Bloomz is that it is easily accessible and immediate. It acts like a folder in the sense that it stores all communication from me in digital form and archives it, meaning it is accessible until I delete it! I can communicate with my parents through a post, message, or announcement. I’ve reduced the amount of paper I send home by 97%.
For the remaining 3% and all other communication that is disseminated from the school office and/or district, I use Bee Books. These take home folders have been a staple in my classroom since 2005. It is simply a folder that has been decked out with academic learning stickers, labels, and help-sheets. I include a book pouch for students to store their reading book and reading log sheet. I also have a zippered pouch for notes and money from home.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to consider naming certain things in your classroom. I’ve named four specific bins that get used a lot. They are “Turn it in Tina,” “Mrs. Meacham’s Mess,” “Missing Parts,” and “Fix it Fred.” Because I don’t have a teacher’s desk , I needed a place to store the daily things that would generally get piled up on my desk. Students use Turn it in Tina to turn in all forms, work, and notes. I use Mrs. Meacham’s Mess as a place to temporarily store “need to address” items such as parent notes, admin tasks, and assessments. For the broken items we have Fix it Fred. From staplers and workstation materials to books and other odds and ends, Fix it Fred is always full. Classroom volunteers (or myself!) go on a fixing spree every once in awhile in an effort to empty Fix it Fred. Finally, our Missing Parts basket is a place for lost markers, workstation materials, and game pieces to find temporary sanctuary until they are reunited with their rightful owner or home!
I have book bins for students and book bins for me! We currently have roughly 3,000 books in our classroom library. They are sorted by genre and stored in sturdy book bins. Some are metal, others are plastic. All are labeled! I like using bins to store books because they can easily be transported to different parts of the classroom or school. For my teaching manuals and resources, I also went with bins as a storage solution. Similarly to classroom book bins, my teacher book bins can be moved from room to room (meetings!) easily. I’ve tried book shelves and filing cabinets. I like this storage solution the best– by far! And finally, the odds-n-ends – open laundry baskets! Open laundry baskets in our room serve to store things like 3-ring binders, clipboards, books from the public and school library, and headphones! Their portability is a nice feature, as we often need to move these items from one place to another in our classroom or another area in our school. Big Lots, Hobby Lobby, and Shopko are usually my go-to places to find bins.
Next up? The newest addition to my classroom! It’s durable. It’s versatile. It’s a tool we use throughout our day — even though we have a SMARTboard! While we use our SMARTboard a lot, we also use our easel. Students use it during workstation times (math and literacy). They love to play “school” and use it as a central part of their lesson time. As a class we use it for shared reading, and also during math and literacy times. It is called the Tech Tub2® Dual Duty Teaching Easel, from the creative folks at Copernicus. Being able to store and charge a class set of devices (iPads, laptops, Chromebooks), while also having a space to record thinking and learning during lesson time is awesome! This is a shared easel in my school and it can easily be wheeled into any area of the school. It’s probably the smartest easel I’ve ever encountered! Stay tuned for a future blog post that will detail our first year’s experience with this smarty!
I confess: It took me a couple of years to “trust” the cloud. Prior to using cloud storage I used no less than seven zip drives (also known as thumb drives, flash drives, etc). Dropbox and Google Drive have been wonderful methods of storing files. I have each of these cloud drives synced to my computer drives at home and school. It’s a three way “triangulation sync” (I made that term up). What that means is that when I make a change to a file on my school computer it syncs to my cloud drive. When I get home and turn on my computer, it then syncs to my drive on my home computer. I find that a lot of teachers don’t realize that they can download Google Drive for PC (now called Back Up and Sync) and Dropbox for PC. I highly recommend Drive and Dropbox for your cloud storage solution!