Organizing student materials is a must if you want your students to be able to function independently in the classroom. There’s nothing worse than asking a student to get materials out and they have no idea where they are.
Now let’s start with the fact that just like adults, some students are naturally more organized than others. We are not going to change a student’s personality but having some of these systems in place can at least help in the organization process.
What you use to help students organize their materials is really a personal preference. I know many teachers like students to have binders and tabs for each subject. Personally, I prefer composition notebooks. One thing that really helps in color coding each subject. It’s a lot easier to ask students to get out their math notebooks and remind them it’s the blue one.
Since I use notebooks, I need to have a place for loose paper to go. Each student also has a “Cubby Folder.” I have tables in my class so students keep all materials in their cubby, but when I had desks, we had “Desk Folders.” Essentially this folder is for all loose paper including unfinished work. Once students turn work in, it is now my responsibility. I share how I deal with paper as the teacher in this blog post.
Books for my classroom library are my favorite things to buy for my classroom, but that also means I don’t want them shoved in desks or cubbies. So each student has a book box that they keep their library books in. I do limit the number of books they keep otherwise some students would shove it full. We keep our book boxes on the shelves, but students have access their book boxes anytime they want. It’s just a good place to store them at the end of each day or when we need a clear area to work.
Upper elementary students are fully capable of getting their own materials, so I have several places around the room for students to access materials without me. Extra paper, crayons, glue, etc are kept in drawers and bins that are clearly labeled for students.
Although students have places for all their materials, there are always materials lost on the floor. We have a “Lost Property” that any lost item goes in. This keeps us from having to disrupt learning to find the owner.