Posted by: rdkpickle | 03.18.2015


It’s spring break. (Hooray for warmer weather, longer days, and a pocket of time off to visit friends and get things done!)

Today I stopped by the school to accomplish a handful of tasks and managed to finally take some pictures of a few organizational things I have done this year that have made my class run more smoothly and my life a lot easier. Thought I’d share.

student mailboxes

student mailboxes

To cut down on time spent handing out papers in class, I created hanging file folders for each student, organized by class period. All graded papers are returned here, as well as copies of any handouts given when a student is absent. Additionally, I use the table space in front to lay out the day’s handouts and/or trays for collecting work. Students are used to taking care of picking up and turning in papers on their way in the door, before class starts.

agenda/homework board

weekly agenda

I’ve always posted the daily agenda for my classes, but this year I sacrificed some whiteboard space to posting the weekly homework assignments as well. (Sorry that everything is erased in the picture – spring break!) Super helpful for students who want to plan their week, absent students, etc. I used to post homework info online at my old school, but a physical board in the classroom seems to make more sense here.

index cards

index cards

At the beginning of the year, I had each student fill out an index card with some information – name, interesting fact, favorite song (title + artist), favorite book (title + author). I keep these in the containers on my desk to use for a couple of different purposes: 1) as equity cards, to randomly call on students to answer the bellwork (or other times I want to randomly select a student) and 2) to randomly assign seats when I group the desks into clusters of 3 or 4 by setting them out on the desks (students know to find their card.) You can also see that I keep the regular seating charts in this basket – we switch seats after every unit test.

homework binders

homework binders

I keep a copy of the answer key to every homework assignment (with all steps worked out by me) in the 2 binders at this little round table in the front of the room. I project the homework solutions daily as part of our start-of-class routine, but for absent students these binders are a way to ensure they have access to check their own work. It’s also been great to have them during the lunchtime enrichment period – both for students who want to get a head start on an assignment/see if it is going well and for those who really struggled/would like to look over the work. Again, at my last school I used to post answer keys online, but the physical binders work well here. Occasionally students will ask to take photos of a key to use for checking work on their own time – works well, and doesn’t require me to manage a massive online library of files like I used to.

That’s it! Back to break. 🙂



  1. Can you explain what you meant by lunchtime enrichment period?

    • Sure! This year, our school changed the way we do lunch. We used to have it during 5th period with either A or B lunch, and the other half the students were assigned a homeroom by grade level. The homeroom time was never really used for anything other than attendance purposes and to cut down on the number of students eating at once.

      Now, the entire 5th period is left open to students for lunch and enrichment. Each teacher has 3 days a week they are available to students during the A block (the first half), and we can request students so they are required to come, or encourage students to drop in. Those who do not attend a teacher’s room during that time end up having the entire hour to eat their lunch, and many students use that time as an extra study hall or to burn off some energy outside in the school courtyards playing hacky sack or some other game.

      The days teachers do not have enrichment, they are assigned hall duty to keep an eye on kids and encourage them to clean up their trash. We end up with a lot of students eating in random hallways throughout the building because our cafeteria is not big enough to accommodate so many students at once, but it has actually worked out pretty well. I really enjoy being able to walk around the school and say hi to kids on the days I have hall duty.

      • I would love something like that because I have no time to pull in students for extra help. How many class periods do you have in a day and how long are they?

      • It has been *amazing.* We didn’t do this last year and it has made a world of difference in terms of handling make-up quizzes and tests, getting absent students back on track, and working one-on-one with students who are struggling. I teach only freshmen so they have a hard time coming early or staying after school since most of them ride the bus – but this solves that problem. It’s not always enough time to handle everything, but it also builds student skills in terms of kids advocating for themselves when they are having a hard time with a topic.

        We have 8 periods in a day and 7 of them are 47 minutes long. 5th period is a little longer – close to an hour – to be sure the A and B parts are each about 25 minutes. That period is not an academic class for anyone in the building. School day runs from 7:20-2:30. (I do wish our class periods were longer than 47 minutes, but what can you do.)

      • Dang, I don’t think my school could go for that since we have 8 academic periods. But I really ❤ that set-up.

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