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Friday, 9 June 2017

Classroom Organization Tips To Make Your Day Run Smoothly

Does anyone else delude themselves with thinking that this will happen?  LOL!  In all seriousness though, having your classroom well organized does make the day run more smoothly.  When your teaching materials are organized and everyone knows where everything is, it increases engagement in your students and you or you assistants don't waste any instructional time looking for needed materials.  

A reader recently asked, "How could I organize my room better so that materials are more easily accessible for my students and assistants."  Today I am going to answer this question by sharing some ways I organize teaching materials in my room.

Colour Coding

I know I am not the first teacher to do this, but I love assigning each of my student's a colour.  Not only does it help the students to understand which cubby, which schedule, etc. is theirs, it also helps staff to know which teaching materials to belong to each student.  My students are all at different cognitive levels and their teaching materials are individualized for their goals.  By colour coding their teaching materials, my assistants don't inadvertently use materials that are too hard or too easy for any particular student.   

Visual Supports

The easiest way to ensure that you always the visual supports you need handy is to post them around the classroom.  In each area of my room, I have velcroed choice boards, first/then boards and token boards to the walls or furniture.  I also make sure that these are kept with our SMART Board and in each of the student's DTT bins.  No matter where we are working in the classroom, these visuals are within reach when we need to use them with the students.


For my math and language arts centres, I organize the teaching materials in numbered bins.  We have two centres that the students rotate through, there is a bin for Table 1 and a bin for Table 2.  We have language arts in the morning, so those bins are kept on the top shelf and math in the afternoon, so those bins are on the bottom shelf.  Table 1 is teacher time, where the students receive direct instruction.  At this table, they complete a worksheet and do discrete trials for their math and language arts IEP goals.  To keep staff and students organized at this table, each student has a duo tang in their assigned colour with the worksheets they are to complete for the week.  I also have a teacher binder at this table which contains the students' teaching materials, any visual prompts the students may need, and data sheets.  The binder is colour coded using dividers and plastic pouches I found at the Dollar Tree.

For Table 2 during language arts, the students work on word games, spelling or reading comprehension.  All of the tasks at this table are for independent practice.  Because all of my students are working at different levels, I keep their materials in these plastic binder pouches I found at the Dollar store.  And again they are colour coded, making it easier for staff and students.

For Table 2 during math, the students play math games or complete work independently.  I organize each activity in a ziplock bag with all the materials the students need to complete it.  The students choose which activity they want to complete on their own.


For my students, reinforcement is just as important as visual supports.  Some of my students use a token economy system, while others still require tangibles such as edibles or toys.  We keep these small containers in the students' DTT bins, for those who work for edibles and also in our center area and at the SMART Board for group and whole class lessons.  We have a cupboard at the back of the room where we keep bins of edibles to restock these containers and another cupboard where we keep toys and other tangibles.  Both staff and students know where these cupboards are located and what they contain inside!

For those students who use a token economy system, we keep token boards in their DTT bins, at the SMART Board and in our center area as well.  We also teach the students to carry their token boards with them from activity to activity if they haven't earned enough tokens in one activity.  We have one student who is a collector and likes to work for multiple toys at once.  For him, we have a bin which has velcro dots on it for his tokens and inside are the toys that he is working for and a timer.  We have taught him to carry this bin around the room and when he earns enough tokens, we set the timer and he gets 3-5 minutes of play time with the toys.  When the timer goes off, he puts the toys back in the bin, or chooses new toys and we re-start his token board.

 Community Supplies

I have found it easier to have community supplies in my classroom rather than each student having their own pencil case.  To ensure we have what we need in each area of the room, I bought pencil cases that are meant to go inside binders, so I can hang them in different areas of the room.  We teach students where they are located and to go get them when they need them for their work.  We also have a shelf where we store extras which is in our center area and easily accessible by staff and students.

Augmentative Communication

Most of my students are non-vocal and use AAC systems to communicate.  They have a home base which is in the middle of the classroom beside their visual schedules.  While we teach them to carry their AAC device with them, they are still kids and sometimes leave them in another area of the classroom.  To encourage students to use them as much as possible, we all have a symbol on our lanyards for their AAC device which we show them as a cue to go it.  We have also started using core boards, so we have these posted around the classroom.  That way, if a student doesn't have their personal AAC system with them, they have another way to communicate.

Do you have any awesome organizational tips to share?  I'd love to hear them!  Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

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