Classroom Organization: Operation Black Box

This summer, we are very excited to say, we will be taking part in a Weekly Linky Party with some fellow bloggers! This "Party" will be featuring a variety of helpful topics so keep checking back! *Thank you, Laura Graham, for setting this up!

The topic for this week, as I'm sure you probably already guessed, is organization. I think this might just be the topic that I am most excited about. I love organizing things and spaces. I love it even more when I can can organize them in not only a logical way but a cute way as well! That being said, The Container Store, is one of my favorite stores. Just think, an entire store dedicated to organization! Unfortunately, they tend to be a bit on the expensive side and as I am currently only making an assistant's wage, I can't afford to purchase much from there right now.

That brings me to my most recent organization love which would have to be my "Black Box". It sounds very top secret and important. It probably isn't nearly as exciting as the name makes it sound but I have found it to be incredibly helpful these past few months.

For those of you who don't know, I have been working as an assistant and teaching Math Masters, an after school mathematics intervention program, this past year as I continue my search for a full time teaching job. Math Masters has been great but it has been a bit of a logistics problem. I taught 12 students in first, second, and third grades for an hour three days a week directly after school in the school library. As I was in the library and not in a classroom of my very own, I had to figure out a way to store my supplies in an organized way that would not take up very much space and would be mobile. Hence the birth of the "Black Box".

It is my one stop shop for teaching math. That, my iPad, my students' iPads, and TpT are all that I need. I got this small black file box from Target for about $20 and the silver buckets for a dollar each! As you can see from the picture above, I keep one filled with pencils and big pink erasers (you know, the good ones, Pink Pearls) [and apparently scissors, although those move between containers depending on when they're needed], another is filled will colored pencils and pencil sharpeners, and the last container holds my miscellaneous teaching supplies like my nice scissors, paper clips, tape, a few colorful pens, and a few calculators. These three buckets fit right inside the box in front of the hanging file folders.

Next, comes the file folders. The first file folder contains my plans for the students and any printables that are needed, for example, our Harry Potter Math Quest.

Followed by my emergency sub plans with at least three day's (one week's) worth of plans in them. So happy I had these when I was sick this Spring.

The next hanging folder containes my Admin folder which basically housed student/parent contact info, bus info, and other important, but not often used, pieces of information.

The majority of my box was taken up by student data folders. These housed their AIMs Web tests, math fact test record sheets, and other data. These folders were organized by grade levels and then alphabetically.

The final two hanging file folders held other miscellaneous supplies (dry erase boards, rulers, more colored pencils, shape tracers, etc.) and math games (each held in a ziplock Baggie).

At this point, I'm not sure what changes I would make in my box. It has kind of been a bit of a work in progress for a while now as I continue to fine tune it to make it even more helpful and organized. Since it is such a small space, it is really important that I maximize every square inch of it. I think that I might try using more single page board games and less Baggie games. I think that they might fit a little better.

Most everything else will stay the same at this point. I’m sure that once Math Masters gets going again I will probably change things just to keep things interesting if nothing else. Well, that’s all for tonight. Thanks for reading! - 
— Anna