Monday, November 16, 2015

Using Color to Keep It All Together

So, this was going to be a post about how I use color-coding to keep all of my things organized. I teach two subjects each to two grades, and failing to keep my teaching materials, data, etc. organized is a recipe for bad, bad things.

But now it's not. I absolutely promise you that there's a good reason for this, but you didn't come here for a neurology lesson, so suffice it to say that I didn't get back to Room 301 to take pictures of my shelves of color-coded binders, my files, or my data board. Too bad; you'd have been impressed.

However, you all know that teaching is one business in which, if you can't fly by the seat of your pants,  you're going to be unhappy. A lot. So, I'm going with what I've got, and hope you'll think this is pretty cool, too.

I'm a big believer in math games. Kids need a chance to play with concepts and practice skills, even my upper-grades, gifted kids. Especially my upper-grades, gifted kids. Games and work like tiling tasks (I adore the Time to Tile jobs from Got to Teach on TpT.) and mindbenders are good for their busy brains.

I do math rotations, and wanted a defined 'games' space, one that would require fewer things to organize and would make it easy to participate. On Pinterest, I found a chalkboard-paint topped table that a primary grades teacher was using for word study. I can't handle chalk dust. My nose just goes nuts. No one was happier than I when we lost the chalkboards and went to whiteboards; I'm sure not putting one BACK in my classroom! On the other hand, on Amazon I found inexpensive whiteboard stickers! Woo-hoo!

After a trip to IKEA and a little frustration on my high schooler's part, we had a snazzy, new games table for about $35. There's a border of Washi tape around the big ol' whiteboard sticker so it won't curl up, and we needed a shower squeegee to get the sticker on the table top without bubbles, but, as a whole, easy-peasy!

 The kids love being able to write directly on the table; I love that there aren't crates of whiteboards all over the place. It's also easy for me to glance over their shoulders and see what they're really up to...

... and you can see some of my color-coding. Green is for fifth grade math; blue's for fourth.
I'm also kinda OCD about my math manipulatives and game parts. They live on the shelf like this:
I've since labeled the drawers of my Pink Box drawers (It was a lot cheaper on Amazon than the other brands.) with some cute labels from Ladybug's Teacher Files. I'm religious about sorting and labeling, because when I can find the parts I need for different games without a lot of fuss, I'm more likely to get them into the kids' hands. If it's a hassle...well, ain't nobody got time for that!

So, there's my tip. Games rock, if you organize the things you need to have them and create a space for them, you're far more likely to use them! Bonus: January's coming! That's when all the tubs, containers, and shelves go on sale!

Next, you'll be hopping over to Jessica, our Whimsical Teacher, to see what tips she's got ready for you! (Her title didn't give anything away, so I'm looking forward to finding out, too!)
Did you miss the first part of the hop? You've missed a lot! Start right here!

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