Category Archives: secondary

This Week’s Feature: Organization

This week’s feature comes from one of my colleagues and I have been excited to share it with you all week. I frequently visit Ann’s classroom before the school day starts and in those visits I am constantly picking up tricks from her about ways to keep the kids and myself organized. She is really good at this! She gives her students a lot of ownership and responsibility in this area too which I love because at the end of the day our job is to help children learn to be functioning adults. I will stop now and let Ann explain some of her methods…

Grade 4
Worcester, MA

Tell us about what is working in your classroom?

Organization is a key component in my classroom. It starts at the end of the school year for students. Yes! I said end of the school year for students! At our school, we are fortunate enough to have a day in June to meet and greet our upcoming class. During this time, students are given a list of things to bring with them on the first day of school. I’m not going to kid you; it’s a long list of supplies. Some of the main components on this list include color specific folders and notebooks. I think this is key for many reasons. First, I decide on colors that match their textbooks (if they have them for a specific subject – ex. purple math textbook = purple folder, purple notebook.) To the best of our ability, every subject taught gets color coded. It is a great visual for students as well as for me.

We all teach and implement transitions and the importance of them in the classroom. We want to make the most out of our teaching time and time on learning. Students get to know the routines in the first few weeks of school and know what time is math, etc. If they happen to forget, all they have to do is look at their neighbor and see what color is out on their desk. Along with a color coded system, I purchase labels at the beginning of the school year and each student receives their own sheet with their names already printed on them. I model where the label goes on each folder and each notebook, in case I need to collect them for any reason during the year. Then I am not searching to see whose things I have during correcting, etc. My motto when it comes to any papers students have in their possession, “Every paper has a home.”

Why do you think this practice is working?

Class organization is a key factor for students. During the first few weeks of school, I show students where work is for the week – labeled Monday through Friday, where graphic organizers are kept for guided reading, and where class lists are, etc. I tell them I expect them to help run this class smoothly, with or without me there. I try to create an atmosphere where the students can freely move about and can gain access to things that can help them succeed. I once saw a video at school that believed in teachers not having to say the routines and procedures over and over in the middle of the year, but to be able to walk into a classroom, and say to the class, what are your procedures?

Having taught sixth grade for a number of years also helped my perspective on transitions. Realizing that students will have to switch classes, go to their lockers in a specific time frame, made me realize that I could help ease that transition into middle school, by helping color code their subjects. I know it works, because a number of former students have stopped by for a visit, letting me know that it was a big deal to continue that system in middle school.

How did you set this practice up in your classroom?

​Class lists – Go to Microsoft word and make a two column list with every student name on it. Leave a line before each name, to enable you to check off their name. I make one at the beginning of the school year, save a copy and print it. Then I copy it around 50 times to start me off. These lists are accessible for students and me. They come in great in the first two weeks of school especially, when you receive form after form, back from parents.

​Graphic organizers – After using every graphic organizer known (exaggeration), I decided that I would only use the ones from Time for Kids website. Here they have a wonderful collection for reading and writing, covering all genres. Again, I make 30 – 50 copies at the beginning of the school year of each organizer. They are kept in one file cabinet drawer where the students can have access to. I might use one on a whim, or in writing, but I also find that my guided reading groups may make a decision to use one with the book they are reading. They seem very comfortable going into the file and choosing one that best suits their needs.

Color coded folders – Give students a supply list as soon as possible, including color coded folders and notebooks to match their textbook colors.

Can you suggest any resources (links/books/articles) that would help someone else set this practice up?

​Time for Kids website (Go to graphic organizers)



Check It Out: Test Prep

In the midst of standardized test prep I think it is important to remember that students need confidence in their own abilities. And here is a video that is all about just that!

Happy Valentines Day everybody! I’ll see you this weekend.

Check It Out: Rethinking Math

I am in a constant struggle with teaching math… The problem is not that I hate math, in fact I really love math! I like problem solving, it’s like puzzles (which I also weirdly love). So, what is my flipping problem, you ask?

My issue is that I can’t figure out how to transmit my love of math to students. I find teaching math frustrating because I can’t find the hook for my students. So of course, I am handling this by scouring the internet and watching videos like the one below…

I hope you’re as nerdy excited about this as I am!

Leave a comment if you have any math advice for me. Also we will hopefully have some more math related content in this weeks feature!

Have a great end to your week. The expected snow here might just make our week a bit shorter than usual… Think snowy thoughts!


(Me and my mom in the last storm)

Call for Submissions

Hi all,

I started this blog in hopes of sharing what is going on in teachers’ classrooms because I really believe that you are all doing wonderful and amazing things. What I am finding is that teachers are even more humble than I originally thought. I have momentarily run dry on people willing to write about themselves. So this is an open call for submissions.

I know it can be a bit daunting to pick something to write about so I have come up with a list of topics that I would love to include on this little blog…

-Daily routines and procedures
-Small group work/centers
-Guided reading
-Lesson planning (both weekly and long term)
-Pencils and classroom materials organization (is this only a daily annoyance for me?)
-Internet resources
-Technology (for either teachers of students)
-Math groups
-Any curriculum that is working well for you
-Tips for teaching ELL’s
-Favorite authors
-Classroom library

And a million other things. Genuinely I am still pretty new at this whole teaching thing and I want to hear about anything that is working.

So if you are interested or know someone who you think should be interested then please click right over to my submissions page. Or leave a comment with your contact information and I will get in touch.

Don’t be shy! It’s really simple and quick.



Check It Out: Teaching Channel

{edit: Alright, so I’m not exactly sure what is going wrong but I can’t get these videos to imbed here. But the links all work so go check out these awesome videos on this great site}

Celebrating Great Teaching

First of all, how I am just finding out about Teaching Channel is beyond me! I love this site. Above is an overview of what the site is about and below I will post a few great finds. I just love being able to watch teaching in action. It somehow makes it so much easier to see myself doing it. Plus this site has videos on just about every topic.

Hope everybody has a safe and happy end of the week. We are in the home stretch to vacation.

See you Saturday!

My Best Advice

Caring and Control Create A Safe, Positive Classroom