Saturday, June 20, 2009

Plan-It School Series: Organizing Materials, Part Two

It is now time for our feature presentation….
At School with the Olive Plants
The scene begins with Homeschool Dawn, Orville, and Wilbur seated at the kitchen table.
Homeschool Dawn: Orville, it is time for math. Please, get out your textbook.
Orville: Is that the yellow book?
HSD: No, Orville, that is the phone book. Your math textbook is green. Where is it?
O: I'm not sure. I think I put it in my bedroom.
Orville leaves the kitchen and searches his room for the elusive math textbook.
HSD: Wilbur, let's work on your spelling while Orville finds his math book. Please get out your spelling book.
Wilbur (after looking through a mound of assorted workbooks, Lego magazines, and drawings of birds): I don't see it anywhere.
HSD: Well, where did you last have it?
W: I don't know.
HSD: Wilbur, please go look for your spelling workbook.
Wilbur leaves the table, and Orville returns.
O: Mom, I'm not sure if I found it. Is it one of these?
Orville sets a pile of objects in front of HSD. She examines each, one at a time.
HSD: (after looking at the first object) No, this is your math workbook. You need the text today. (while holding the second object) No, this is your brother's math textbook. Wilbur, come get your math book, please.
Wilbur enters the kitchen with Legos in hand.
HSD: Wilbur, are you looking for your spelling book?
W: Yes.
HSD: Why do you have the Legos then?
W: I built a book-finding machine. It's helping me.
Wilbur takes his math book and he and the machine resume their search. HSD holds up the next item in Orville's stack.
HSD: No, this is The Chicken Sisters.
W (from the next room): The Chicken Sisters? I love that book. Will you read it to us, pleeeeaaase?!
HSD: No, keep looking for your book.
HSD looks through the remaining items in Orville's stack. There is a Taco Bell receipt, a sock, two crayons, a potato, and the Holy Grail, but no math textbook.
HSD: Orville, what did you do with your book?
O: Mom, I just can't find it. Maybe Maggie (the dog) ate it.
Wilbur returns to the kitchen with an even larger Legos construct in hand.
W: Mom, I couldn't find my spelling book so I built an even bigger machine. Look, it has a scope on top, wheels for bumpy terrain, and a super word sensor. The best part is the spy button. When I press it, Word Girl will fly through my bedroom window and spell my words for me.
HSD looks at the clock. It is four o'clock and time to start dinner.
HSD: I guess we'll have Saturday school again this week.
O: But Mom… it is Saturday.
HSD: *sigh*
Okay, so my little drama is a bit over-the-top; however, it is truer-to-life than I would like to admit. I found early on that I could not keep a shared-space school arrangement organized. To eliminate some of the confusion, each boy now has his own desk with a built-in storage cubby. Any of their current books or workbooks is kept in it. They also have three-ring folders for several subjects. Before each nine-week unit begins, I photocopy all worksheets and notebooking pages that they will need and organize them in these folders. These folders also stay in this cubby.
On our bookshelf, I organize the books not currently in use but that will be needed later in the unit. In previous years, I have taught thematically which required several books per student. This year I am switching to Tapestry of Grace which also requires several resources per child. Previously, I stored the books on these shelves in alphabetical order. I picked up a tip from my friend, Molly at Counter-cultural School, that I like even better.
She suggested using color coding labels (you know, the little multi-colored dots). I am starting with Year 3 and chose green dots as my label for all Year 3 books. I then wrote in the center of each dot "UG" for upper grammar or "D" for dialectic. I do not have lower grammar or rhetoric students, but obviously, those could be labeled "LG" and "R". I also wrote "4" on each label for the unit number. I attached these to the side of each book and placed a piece of scotch tape over each label to ensure it stays put. When my Year 4 books arrive, I will label them with blue dots. When we restart the history cycle in two years, I will label the Year 1 and Year 2 books with two different colors.
I finished by placing the books on the shelves in the order they will be needed. I have one shelf for upper grammar and one shelf for dialectic. Wilbur knows that his books are on the "UG" shelf, and Orville knows that his are on the "D" shelf. When each has completed a book, he is to place it on his shelf, remove the next book, and place it in his cubby. No more book-finding machines or Holy Grails. Everything is easy to track. As I mentioned in Organizing Materials, Part One, I keep a log of books in my school library using the "Homeschool Book Inventory" found in the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner.
Here is my classroom now….

The two bottom-right shelves hold our TOG books. The others hold other subjects, manipulatives, and other teaching materials.

Aaaaah! Order has been restored!
Return soon for the next article in the Plan-It School series: Writing Objectives.


Heather said...

This is the funniest thing I have read yet. It is so true to life! I do have one question. Where do you store the books you don't need yet, or teacher's guides from previous years? Are they on different bookshelves?

Homeschool Dawn said...

Thanks Heather.
I keep the books I don't need yet on the top shelves along with some of the teacher's guides from previous years. A lot of previous year's materials go to the attic.
Usually I would have more of my boys' books for the year on their two bottom shelves. Because I'm switching to TOG's digital edition this year, I have to wait for each unit to be released b4 I can buy suplementals. What you see in the picture is the 1st unit. I just ordered the 2nd unit which I'll also arrange on those shelves. By the time 3rd and 4th units are released, I'll be able to box some of the 1st and 2nd... or sell them if I don't need them again.

Homeschool Dawn said...

Something else that I forgot to mention is that I have a smaller bookshelf beneath my dry erase boards. That is where I keep my current teacher's guides. I have a basket on my desk where I keep things like picture cards that I need on a daily basis.