Time to Reorganize: Tips From Two Teachers

Hello, everyone!  I'm Melissa from Common Core & So Much More and I'm so excited to take part in this swap with Joey!  We have both collaborated, shared ideas, and have been so supportive of each other in the past, and thought it would be fun to do a blog swap to share five organizational tools in our classrooms.  
My first idea, and one of my most used organizational tools in my classroom, is how I store my task cards.  I use them a few times of week to put in centers or to play Scoot as a whole class.  Those little cards can easily become misplaced or damaged if not stored correctly.  In the past, I've always put them in plastic baggies, but the baggies would tear, they wouldn't close, and it just became a huge mess.  This year, during back to school time, I picked up EVERY plastic notecard holder Walmart had in stock.  They come in a few different sizes, but I got the small one for my cards.  They fit nicely inside the sturdy plastic case and snap shut.  I have just a basic label on front so I can easily find what I need.  That blue bin is where I keep them all.  I have 10 in various colors that I found at the dollar section of Target.  

Now, I know this is not a genius idea by any means, but I do feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders when I meet with my small groups each day.  Sometimes, my students and I work on our interactive notebooks or do close reading activities.  It's always really nice to have all the supplies right there instead of having the kids search their desk for what they need.  It definitely cuts down on the transition time.  Inside the mini crate, I have scissors, highlighters, thin markers for underlining, crayons, and glue.  The students know that these supplies are only for guided reading and they're not allowed to pick through it throughout the day, or I'd have nothing left for our small groups.  :)

The next tool I use sits on my desk.  I made this teacher's toolbox over the summer to keep all those little supplies organized instead of having them clutter my desk drawers.  It makes it so easy for me to find what I need.  I also really love how the drawers come out.  On Fridays, I lay out all of the papers I copied for the next week, pull out the paperclip drawer, and lay everything out on my big table.  I decide what I am going to do each day, put the paperclip on each set of papers, and file it away for later use.  I also find myself pulling the drawer out for the push pins a lot so I can take it with me as I hang things.  If you would like FREE templates for these drawers and would like to read a tutorial on how I made it and where I bought the supplies, you can click HERE to read more about it on my blog.

I absolutely love my assignment drawers!  I think I got them from Target about 6 years ago and have been a huge life saver.  Whenever a student needs to turn in classwork or homework, they have to put it in the correct drawer and all facing the same direction.  This makes it super easy for me to find and grade without having stacks of papers visible for all to see. These drawers are about 12"x12" so even larger pieces of paper and half sheets of construction paper fit well inside.  These drawers also stack nicely if you wanted to save valuable counter space, but my third graders wouldn't be able to reach it it they were stacked.  Now, even though these drawers are labelled, and I tell my students which drawer to put their work in after they complete it, I can guarantee I will have a student who finishes their math test and puts it in the spelling drawer...or have students come up to me with their spelling homework and ask which drawer to turn it into.  SMH.

My last tip actually stems from my deep dislike of paper.  I really cannot seem to keep file folders, binders, or any other type of organizational tool meant to hold millions of papers organized.  File folders just become a disaster.  I will hole punched papers out of binders and forget to put them back. For this reason, I'm a digital girl.  Everything I create, purchase, or find online is saved in neat little folders on my desktop where I can print an original, copy it, and not have to worry about putting it back.  With that said, there are some papers that I have had for years that I just don't want to spend my time scanning into my computer.  For these, I grab a binder and hole punch some really nice, sturdy folders that won't tear.  This is a picture of my math binder.  Each folder holds two units worth of papers that I use for exit slips and enrichment.  I have, over time, made this work for me.  I don't have to worry about taking them in and out from the hole punch.  I don't have to worry about having a loose file folder in a drawer that needs to be filed back in the same place after taking it out.  I can just easily look through the stack of papers without taking them out of the folder, grab what I need, and put it back after I copy...if I remember.

I'd like to really thank you for taking the time to read my post on here today, and if you liked what you read, encourage you to come on over to my little blog to read about some more of my ideas.  If you don't already follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store, please come check it out!  I have a lot of resources for you to use in your classroom.  Some of my most popular products happen to be my reading fluency passages.  I currently have them for grades 1-4 and are leveled by the CCSS Lexile levels for each grade.  Each passage contains three components - A teacher passage with numbered columns and a chart to record words correct and errors. There is also a study copy which has a larger font for students to read off of while you record on the teacher's copy.  Lastly, there are reading comprehension sheets that contain three questions in short answer format.  In addition to the passages, I also included graphs for the students to record their cold and hot read to keep track of their progress and a weekly parent reading log.  If you're interested in taking a closer look, I have a FREEBIE  that has a passage and comprehension page for each grade level.  I also have a BUNDLE  of these passages (you can still buy them separately).  This makes it the ultimate tool for differentiating the reading fluency practice in your classroom!


  1. I absolutely LOVE the task card idea! Thanks for sharing! I am currently using the plastic bags, and as you said, they don't work so well. I love how organized this will be!

  2. Love all the organizational tips...I can never be too organized!

    Success in Second Grade
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  3. What great tips! I like the idea of using 12x12 drawers so bigger pieces of papers can be turned it! Thanks for sharing!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  4. Thank you so much for the index card box idea! I ran to Target today and they are on sale there for $0.90! Granted, I know I can get a better deal at back to school time, but this was an excellent start! Thanks again, Melissa!