I’m taking a quick trip down to Monterey and Carmel this week! It was sort of a last minute trip before the school year starts, so I didn’t have many choices with my budget for AirBnB. I DID find a gem of a place that offered a free ticket to the Monterey Bay Aquarium! That got me sold, knowing that an admission ticket is $50.
The purpose for this trip is simply some R&R and getting outdoors and taking it slow. I’ve been doing a lot of product development and work for Adventure of Letters. That means I’m sitting at my desk either on my computer or drawing, so my neck and back are really taking a beating, even with stretching and getting up! Next post will be a packing light post for my trip! Stay tuned…
We are at Round 3 of How to Quickly Purge and Declutter. If you missed Round 1 and Round 2, click the links to get caught up!
Round 3 is all curriculum. By this time, your classroom should be clean of all unneeded supplies/papers. All your games/materials should be organized and ready to go for next year. Now we get to organize paperwork by unit/topic/subject!
- Choose one of your subject/topic bins and separate by unit. My organizational method for units of study are to hole punch and put in a binder. I recycle all extra copies and only leave the master copy. I usually separate it by lesson plans/lesson materials, worksheets, homework, and projects within the binder. This works best for social studies/science units in my opinion.
- For math, I separate by standard, which I had briefly discussed in the last post. My games are all in Ziplock bags, but so are the worksheets, assessments, homework that goes with that standard/unit. All my math stuff is then put into IKEA buckets and put in a cupboard/cabinet (whatever you have in your classroom. I like this stuff hidden personally, but I used Sharpie OIL BASED pens to write on the plastic bins b/c it is permanent, but you can “erase” it by drawing over your letters in Expo marker, then wiping with a TISSUE if you need to change the contents of the bin later. I also used these Sharpie oil pens to write my students’ names on their desks. No nametags, no messy stuff. No picking at the nametag tape (I know it drives you nuts too! HAHA)
- For ELA, I separate by phonics basically. I also hole punch and put in a binder by phonics groups. The stuff for guided reading is materials (magnets, tracing, pointers, reading strategy bookmarks, etc). I had a book room I borrowed my guided reading books from, so I just return them. No need to organize. If you do, then you’ll have to do the extra work of making sure your book bins are in order.
I did integrated units, so English instruction and ELD were integrated into my social studies/science units, so I really don’t need to organize that. If you have to, then you can do the same thing as other subjects!
Binders are my favorite way to separate stuff because I can take my whole binder with me and make copies as I need. I can also add and make notes on the unit as I teach it.
And that’s it! Good luck organizing!
Today, I’m continuing to Round 2, which is a big one: CURRICULUM, GAMES, and ACTIVITIES MATERIALS!
Chances are that you have some center games or task cards that you kept on rotation that are “out”. You have the unit you’re teaching out and you have miscellaneous things here and there out and unorganized. Today’s the day to clear that alllllll up! Let’s jump in:
- Grab the File box from yesterday (or maybe 2 or 3 even??) that has everything mixed up and bring to your “clean table”.
- Put out trays/bins/boxes for each topic/unit/subject. I taught 1st grade, so mine were ELA, Social Studies, Science, Math, Writing, ELD.
- Go through your “To File” box(es) and drop papers into whatever subject/topic boxes you made. This usually takes me 2 hours MAX. Put that aside when you’re done and we’ll revisit tomorrow in Round 3.
- Go to your center activities and games and organize that by tossing broken parts, making sure all materials are accounted for and all facing the same way, etc. I’m assuming you have a designated center/game/task card/activities area for your stuff here, so I’m not going into how to set up your classroom.
- I rarely had to do this step because all my activities/games are in gallon ziplock bags that were labeled with Sharpie by subject and state standard. If you don’t have them organized by standard, I highly recommend it. I have my math/science/social studies stuff organized into units by standard, so if I’m teaching that unit, I pull out everything and then put it away immediately after I’m done with the unit. I also used those bins from IKEA (the bright green ones that are $1.99– I spray painted mine black though) to store my Ziplock baggied games vertically by standard. Any worksheets that go with the unit are put into a separate Ziplock bag that is put in front of all the games within the unit. I just used a bright neon Post-it to tab where each unit started because the bins are so big that they fit multiple units in them.
- For ELA/ELD, I straightened up stamps, magnetic letters, guided reading materials into Tupperware boxes. I bought the same style and don’t use mixed sizes because it makes it harder to stack. It also looks messy off the bat when things aren’t the same! I bought chalkboard stickers as labels, so it was easy to change if I replaced the contents of the boxes.
That’s it for Round 2! By this time, all last year’s stuff should be cleaned out and now your games/center activities should be in order! Tomorrow is Round 3, which is the heaviest one in my opinion: CURRICULUM BY TOPIC/UNIT/SUBJECT!
I was a teacher the past few years and when I left my job to go into design and creative entrepreneurship, I had to get rid of all my classroom things. And let me tell you, teachers have a LOT of things. No matter how organized I was, I found that I had all these items that I would never use in my own daily life outside of my classroom.
Here is a step by step checklist to purge and declutter your classroom stuff QUICK (because ain’t nobody got time or wants to spend summer cleaning out their classrooms, am I right?). This is a great round 1 purging to get your inspired and pumped to get to Round 2 – the deep clean of curriculum! EEP!
- Clear one table and designate it as your working table.
- You don’t want to jump around cleaning because if you don’t finish.. you’ll have a mess to clean up before you start again! I do this mostly for psychological reasons.. I need ONE purely clean thing in the room.
- Put out 5 boxes: toss, recycle, supplies, file, and donate. Put next to your clean table. You need cleaning to be EASY, meaning you sit there and throw things into the box it goes into.
- Toss/collect/donate old pencils, crayons, erasers, and any other supplies that you know you’ll get a new set of next school year. If you’re like me, you will probably Clorox wipe down all containers used to hold these above items. Let them dry while you start #4.
- Start at one corner of your classroom and work around the perimeter of your room. Most classrooms have the student desks in the middle, so most of the loose paperwork and hidden messes are in the perimeter, I’ve noticed. Depending on how much stuff you have, you might finish in 1 hour or it might take a few rounds!
- Grab a pile/folder/box of cluttered items and bring it to your clean table.
- Recycle all student work that you don’t need to put in their student file or don’t want to use as a sample next year.
- Anything you want to keep for next year goes into file. Don’t worry about separating by subjects/topics just yet. That’s for Round 2!
- Toss anything that’s garbage.
- Donate anything that is usable for others that serves you no longer.
- Supplies means office stuff: loose paperclips, pencils/pens, post-its, expo markers.
- Continue until you get around your whole classroom perimeter! Turn on some music.. trust me, you’ll enjoy it more! Another thing I like to do is set a timer to try to “race” the timer. Chances are once you get into the groove of cleaning, you will turn off the timer and want to keep going! MOMENTUM.
- If you’re tired or it’s time to go home before you finish, put a lid on top of your File, Supplies, and Donate boxes… and push under your table until tomorrow! Empty garbage and recycling.
Round 1 helps you clear all of this past school year’s supplies and papers. Round 2 will help you organize your curriculum and files!
I took a solo trip down to San Diego recently, which included a bunch of “firsts”. First time flying alone and first time renting a car were the highlights. I’m so glad I rented a car because San Diego is not a walkable city. I definitely got a workout walking around town and everywhere; there are hills EVERYWHERE.
I lived in an AirBNB in Mission Hills, which was quiet and peaceful, but also close to most highways and nearby districts. I was only a 10 minute drive from Balboa Park, Hillcrest, Little Italy. I was 15 min from Gaslamp and Downtown. La Jolla was 20 minutes north. Good place to live!
One of the first things I did when I got to San Diego was go to the Zoo. It’s the 100th year anniversary, so they had some special things going on, but the true reason I went was to see the PANDAS. See, pandas are only at certain zoos in the US.. and I’m not about to fly over to D.C. to see the panda there. I had to wait in line and it was slightly underwhelming since one was asleep, BUT I can cross that off my life’s bucket list!
SDZoo is GIANT. It also is hilly. Think Oakland times 10. I spent about 5 hours there to slowly wander around all the exhibits. My go to is always the giraffes and they had 8 giraffes!!! You can’t get as close to them here. My favorite zoo to get near giraffes might be the Sacramento Zoo. The coolest animal I saw here that I haven’t seen in other zoos was the snow leopard.