Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Cleaning Tips

organized I’m sure you have heard of Spring Cleaning but what about winter cleaning? Who says you only clean once a year? I have a closet that stores my seasonal clothes. In the fall, I switch out my fall/winter clothes and store my spring/summer clothes. In the spring, I switch again. That works for me and it helps me see what needs to be discarded or kept.

The same thing needs to be done in the classroom. At the beginning of the year I’m usually too busy and overwhelmed to do much sorting. I’m trying to get to know the students and plan my lessons. During the first half of the year, I notice that my classroom can get a cluttered look. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas tend to cause my focus to be on other things than the organization of my class.

January is a great time to reevaluate the materials and lessons for my class. I can’t tell you how many things that have been given to me that I think I might use and then never use them. I also realized that students were useful in helping and there can be many teachable moments doing this. Here is a list of things that I do in January and sometimes my students can help me do this also.

1. Holiday materials need to be stored in appropriate containers and stored so they can be found next year.

2. Sort through any games the students use. If they are missing parts, decide if I want to save the game and buy more parts or just discard the game. There is no use keeping a game that can’t be used.

3. Decide if bookshelves can be organized in a different way to be more effective in the classroom. Students love to help organize bookshelves. Once I decided to put my library in alphabetical order according to author, the students really stepped up and helped me.

4. If there is something that I haven’t used the past year, then I need to pass it on to someone who can use it so it is not being wasted. If no one wants it, then it is time to get rid of it.

5. I also need to look at the lessons I use that were very effective and file them so they can be found again when I need them.

6. I also like to look at the room arrangement. At the beginning of the year, the arrangement may have worked because the students didn’t know each other. Now I need to see if there is a better arrangement to make teaching and learning better.

7. Ask students for ideas for organizing the room and materials. Sometimes they might have a good idea and having a say in their classroom may help them feel like they have control over their environment.

8. Talk to other teachers about organizational tips that work in their classroom. I might pick up a tip that works well in my classroom. Ziploc bags and clear plastic tubs help me find things that I need when I need them.

Do you have special organization/cleaning tips that can be included? Please share!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Organized! http://www.flickr.com/photos/katy/19498026/ by katybeck


Sioux Roslawski said...

This is an "oldie" but empty frosting containers are great storage options for bulletin board borders.

Also, when we work with manipulatives (like unifix cubes) when collecting them, I have the kids put them into an array, so I can quickly count if they are all there. (Usually, I tell them rows of 5, so they can connect them in sets of 5 and it makes it easier when I pass them out the next time we use them.)

SaraR said...

It's also a great time to clean out your computer by deleting files and e-mails you no longer need, backing up the computer, and organizing the content.

loonyhiker said...

@Sioux Thanks for the great ideas. I like how you make it a teaching moment at the same time!
@Sara I didn't even think of that so thanks for adding that too.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you posted this now... I spent Friday after school tidying my bookshelves and sorting through things that are not being used. Our grade 6's have a bazarre every year to raise money for their end of year trip, I plan to donate tons of books.

Anonymous said...

I use binders and page protectors organized by unit to store all my master copies as well as general activities for reteaching and enrichment activities organized by skill. That way when I have a group that needs compare contrast help, I can go right to the Reading Intervention Binder, Compare Contrast tab and have a variety of ideas and resources available.

If you have homemade sets of game cards, I put unique geometric patterns on the back of each set. Not only does it prevent being able to see through the cards, if a card gets misplaced, it is easy to reunite it with its proper set.