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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ditch the File Cabinet! A School Year in BINDERS!

I'm sharing one of my FAVORITE things with you today. In my opinion, it's an essential part of planning and organizing your school year. Best of all, it's SIMPLE!

I'm all about simple.
Like REALLY simple. Clutter and chaos are my enemies.

That's why I LOVE binders.
Nice, shiny white binders - with clear sleeve covers.
And TONS of clear plastic page sleeves inside.

Binders should be called clutter and chaos eliminators.
Wonder who I can call about requesting that name change?

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should also be obsessed with binders.

I loathe file cabinets. I have ONE drawer in a teacher friend's file cabinet. I keep my math  homework in there. Basically it is an out of sight storage container.

That's my drawer there... the one with the dragonfly on it. Keeping my math homework in there is fine. I just grab a stack each week. Then the next week's is automatically in front. There is no sorting through this cabinet trying to find things. I don't ever have to LOOK at what's in there. It was simply the easiest and most out of the way place to store pages that were torn out of 30 books. That's the ONLY way I use a filing cabinet.

File cabinets are great for storing things that you don't need to sort through. Easy access. Minimize chaos. Eliminate clutter.

File cabinets are not very efficient for storing teaching resources. BINDERS are the way to go for those original resources you use year after year. They are extremely effective and highly organized. It is MUCH easier to flip through a binder and see EXACTLY what you are looking for rather than pull file folders in and out of a drawer.

Plan a month at a time. Plan each month around a unifying theme or two to bring cohesiveness to your days and weeks.  This is a perfect way to fit in social studies and science into your busy, busy day. Use a binder of fabulous resources to help with that planning!

Each month should have a binder. Identify that binder by theme - keeping the focus clear and concise. In that binder place everything used during that month for ELA, math, social studies and science that isn't in district curriculum. An entire month's worth of reproducibles/originals in one place. Remember, the key is simplify. Having a BUNCH of binders will hinder your ability to reach that objective.

It's pretty awesome to look in my cabinet and see at a quick glance where I am in the year! 9 months - 9 binders. We are covering weather and matter right now. All that's left is our ocean habitat unit and WE.ARE.DONE! 

Place a copy of each original you use in a plastic sleeve.

Group these sleeves by copying requirements.

Binder Groups
single-sided sheets
two-sided sheets
construction originals
1/2 sheet originals

When it's time to prep for the upcoming month, simply pull out each group. Attach simple instructions for parent helpers so they know exactly what needs to be copied.

Before copying, flip through your pages to be sure you have included/excluded all that is necessary for your kiddos that particular school year. Also, edit your pages. If you find you don't like something, throw it away - remove it from your binder. Keep only what you will use. Simplify!

In prepping for our 1st grade team, I create a copy request that outlines what needs to be done and required quantities for all of us. We have a volunteer program on campus where parents work in our copy/prep room on different jobs left there by teachers. If no volunteers were available or got to the job, it's easy enough for one of us to grab the clipped stack and copy what's outlined. 
The originals never leave their sleeves, so "refiling" is easy. They just get plopped right back into the binder, snap the rings shut and put back on the shelf. Everything stays in pristine condition - no wrinkles, tears or file cabinet snafus. Another month... done!

That's it. Simple. Quick. And an ESSENTIAL part of an organized school year!

Please be sure to follow me on Facebook, my TpT store and this blog so you don't miss any ideas, freebies and teacher resources!

I'm curious. Is this helpful?  Does it suit your style?  How do you organize your year?

For more *Bright Ideas* please check out the links below from 150 different teacher blogs! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Year Plan for 2014-2015 ALREADY?

How's your week been?

I've been busy peeps! I promised I would update the Curriculum Year Planners during my spring break - and I couldn't go back on my promise.... but it has taken forever! I am SUPER happy to have them all done.

You can now grab your updated revision of the planner for the 2014-2015 school year and start planning. It's easier to plan for the following year as you END one instead of trying to fit it into your busy beginning of the school year schedule. Plus changes you want to make for next year will be fresh in your mind. Just go to "My Purchases" in your TpT account and download your updated planner.

For those of you who don't already own the planner, here is a little background on it.

Curriculum year planning is one of the things I covered in my presentation at the SCKC back in February. It is definitely a subject near and dear to my heart. Here are a couple key reasons why I create a curriculum year plan each year. 

A curriculum year plan serves as an instruction compass. It is the backbone to all monthly and weekly planning and keeps you organized! It is where you designate your pacing for all of your curricular areas and focus standards. This is the first step in creating a less chaotic school year. As I've said in previous posts - you have to have a plan in order to ensure an organized mind, workplace and day.
A year plan curriculum map is THE starting place.

Yes, often our districts and curriculum publishers provide scope, sequencing and pacing. But they are all designed differently, end up being several sheets of paper each, and most importantly are not written in a manner that necessarily matches the way YOU teach. They just become a chaotic mess of paperwork, distraction and confusion.

Below is an image of my year plan for the 2013-2014 school year. Our first grade team uses the same plan. It makes our lives much easier. We share this info with our special ed and ELD teachers and aides so that everyone is on the same page. We also have this "poster size" in our shared space so that we can refer to it whenever we meet.
As I've mentioned before, I believe STRONGLY in thematic planning for many, many reasons. This planner helps define those themes as they relate to our science and social studies standards and helps me be sure I am hitting them in a cross-curricular manner through ELA and math as well.

*There are over 100 different year plan templates included in the download! 

The download includes color and black and white versions of each planner template. There are many different planning block options. AND there are planners suitable for middle and high school teachers, too! There are some for traditional school years, year-round... even Australian and ones WITHOUT any holidays noted. Here are just a few samples.

*There are DETAILED directions included in the download that will not only walk you through the computer details of setting up your OWN planner, but also HOW I create my yearly curricular map - which elements to include, etc.

There are 2 versions - EXCEL and NUMBERS. 

Both versions can be used on your computer and tablets and smartphones

There is NO yearly fee. 

In fact, your one purchase gets you a new planner for each year at no additional cost! I update the file each year.

Are you ready to start thinking about planning for your next school year? I know it seems early... but some of you are finished with this school year in MAY! It is so much easier to plan for the following school year while the successes and failures of the current year are fresh in your mind. 

If you use Excel on your computer you will want THIS version.

If you use Numbers on your computer you will want THIS version.

You can find previous posts about the planners here: You Have to Have a Plan, Organization is Key, Focusing Theme

***I'm doing a GIVEAWAY for a copy of this planner on my FACEBOOK fan page today (4/5/2014) only. ***

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