This is week four of the Sunday Funday blogging initiative. It's never too late to join in! You can read more about the challenge here if you like. This week's challenge is to write about organization.
Organization: Well, seeing as how I'm posting this entry several hours past the deadline, I certainly could use some organization pointers for sure. However, I do have a few pointers.
Do everything digitally if possible. My students will have 1-1 iPads before the start of the second marking period. Until then, I'll continue to use my class cart of laptops. I am fortunate enough to have those as part of a grant that I signed-up for circa 2007. The machines were updated one time in those 10 years, so the technology available is anything but cutting edge, but it is functional.
The reason I love organizing digitally is that it is easier for me to make lots of folders inside of other folders and to move/update things as needed. I still have lots of binders (one per unit per course) but I use them very infrequently. In fact, I'm hoping to ditch them in the next year or so. I even scan answer keys and name them similarly to the student documents so that they show up next to each other in my folders.
Every year, I create one digital folder per unit per course. Then at the end of the year, I put it all in a dated folder. That way, I can can look through previously used items or create new ones.
I organize for my students in a similar way. I use the free version of Schoology. I create one folder per unit and I date documents for each day. That way students can get started independently while I'm greeting kids in the hall. They can also easily find make-up work, or work ahead if they know they will miss school.
Classroom layout: This year, I'm trying to de-front my room. Student groups are along all four sides of the room and my small group instruction area is in the middle. I have also added group white boards for Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces. You will notice there is also lots of room for movement based activities like Dance Dance Transversal and Quiz Quiz Trade.
My only concern so far (our first student day is tomorrow, so I'll probably have more issues soon) is about having my back to two groups during small group time. In the past, my small group instruction table was in the front and I could monitor the independent groups easily.
Gradebook: My pointer here here is to have a category weighted at 0% of the grade. This is where I record information on work completion and participation. I also keep partially graded assignments there temporarily (so no one's grade is negatively affected if I'm only halfway through grading the assignment).
Managing Students and Email: First, make mail groups for each class you teach. Then you can easily send out information quickly as needed. I send out a welcome letter at the start of the year. I also send out a FAQ document with my grading policy, required materials, tutoring info, etc. Later in the year I'll send out reminders about the end of the marking period and school events like parent conferences and free lunches over the summer.
Second, create a folder/label for every student and keep every email for them until the start of the following year. This is great for documenting academic/behavioral issues if needed.
That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure more ideas will come to mind as I start the school year :) Please read along with the other #SundayFunday posters and join in yourself!