Organize Your Materials in Your Secondary Classroom

I like efficiency. I like to make sure that I am as efficient as possible. A few years ago, I established the number system and cut back on a lot of problems I found myself dealing with in the classroom and saved myself some much-needed time.

I started by numbering the seats in my room. I have a large classroom (I’m lucky, I know), and when I moved into this new room, I opted for tables instead of regular student desks. As you can see in the photo below, I prefer collaborative groups over rows, but the number system works with any seating arrangement.

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Using a Sharpie, I wrote sequential numbers in the upper left-hand corner of each seat. (Don’t worry; the numbers are erased easily enough with beach wipes.)

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On the very first day of school, I greet each student at the door and ask them to choose a card from the card deck I hold in my hand. The number written on the card is the number where they sit. Thus, I have an instant seating chart from day 1. Additionally, I can then divide my students into the face card value or the suit or cards for various activities.

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Currently, my department has opted to use an online textbook. This is pretty neat since students can access both in the classroom and at home. Prior to adopting the online textbooks, however, we had to use a class set of an older print textbooks. In order to keep them organized and to hold students accountable for their treatment of the texts, I numbered them with the small round yard sale stickers. Students use only the textbook that is assigned to their number. Since numbering the textbooks, I have cut down greatly on the graffiti and other mistreatment of the textbooks. Additionally, I can also make sure they are returned to the correct spot on the bookshelf at the end of a period.

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What I use much more often than the old textbooks is the computer cart. I love technology, and I love to incorporate it into my lesson plans. Obviously we want to keep track of the computers and make sure that the students treat them with the utmost kindness. But how can we do that with efficiency? The number system works here, too!

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Gone are the days of making up a sign-out chart each time I use the computers in my classroom. Each computer in the computer cart is numbered 1-40, just like the seats in my room. Students are trained early in the year to take their assigned computer and check it to make A) it’s functioning properly, and B) nobody has damaged it. They are also held responsible for returning the computers to the correct slot in the cart and for making sure they are plugged in to charge.

There are numerous (pun intended) ways to use the number system in your secondary classroom. Instead of creating popsicle sticks for all of your classes, you only need to create one — with your seat numbers. When asking for student participation during class discussion, draw a stick, call out a number. Whoever is in the seat must respond to the question asked. Everyone must be ready, and therefore engagement rises in the classroom.

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How about you? How to you  manage efficiency in your classroom?

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