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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let's Get Organized: Part 3

I live for organization, that's no secret.  If that's news to you, I'll forgive you when you start acting like a true fan and read each and every one of my previous posts AND take notes.  Sure I like cute organization.  But do you know what I LOVE?  Organization that is visually appealing AND functional.  

Imagine this:  Stuff is thrown all about.  The cabinet is now empty.  Ah, a fresh canvas.  Half way to victory! Hours of sorting & labeling later, you step back to admire your newly "organized" cabinet that has cute labels and bins and colors.  Done.  It's euphoric.  You take a picture, post it to social media, and your teacher friends go gaga.  Heck, it looks so good that people are Pinning the picture of your cabinet.  Does this sound familiar yet?  Ok.  Fast forward a few weeks.  The picture-perfect cabinet isn't so perfect anymore.  It lasted until you had to actually start taking and putting stuff away that lives on that pretty little shelf.  Damn.  I CANNOT be alone in this. What went wrong?  It looked so good?

But was it functional?  Did you take into consideration: 
Frequency of use? 
Accessibility of items?
Item height vs. bin height so you can take something out without pulling the entire (heavier than you planned) bin out?
Can you remember what is in each bin?  Were they sorted in a meaningful way?
Do the labels fall off?

Now you understand just how deep this obsession runs through me.  You can probably imagine how hard it is for me when "someone from above" gives me a planning tool that I have to use.  There I am sitting in a meeting, drinking my coffee, passing notes with my neighbor, minding my own.  Then I hear about this magical form.  My body tenses.  The grip on my coffee gets a little tighter. My breath gets heavier. There might even be a nostril flare.  Yikes. That last one is a tad embarrassing to admit.

I like forms…that are functional and easy on the eye.  Sometimes you just have to play the game and fill out the darn form.  But other times, you recreate it, share it with the decision makers and convince them to use your version, and make the world a happier and more organized place.

I'm currently working on streamlining my long-term planning process & forms.  I want them to be easy on the eyes AND functional.  I don't want them to just look good and use all kinds of crazy expensive ink to just sit in a binder all year and never get used. I want them to help ensure all standards are taught.  I want them make following a timeline easier. I want them to help marry "cutesy" thematic units & standards.  I want them to have a natural flow and to make weekly lesson planning less stressful. Can I get an Amen?    

Wanna peek?  Ok.  But it will cost you.  Seriously.  I need some input.  Don't just ooh and aah, leave a comment with some functional advice/input.  Pinky promise?  

I've helped numerous co-workers with mapping out year-long curriculum plans. This type of planning isn't for the faint of heart.   It's time consuming up front.  It's hard work.  It feels repetitive.  But, in the end, it's totally worth it.  I'm typing up detailed instructions/guide lines to go with my forms because I want more people to be able benefit from them.

Here are my thoughts:  I'm making these forms so that they can be printed out & written on, or typed through PowerPoint.  I included space for planning out 6 "subjects".  If you don't teach science and social studies every day, maybe you use two boxes for reading.  One for whole group and one for small groups.   I'd rather have more room to plan out core subjects than an entire box for handwriting….that's why I went with 6 areas.  I decided not to make this a colorful file because this lady knows black ink is way more economical. What are your thoughts?
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  1. Ash,
    I think these look great! I just love to organize and find new things to organize all the time. I recently got new shelves as my Vday present. Being organized makes me happy! I am going to be featuring a picture with your adorable month labels on my Friday favorites. Can't wait to hear more about these pages you are making!!
    Keep Calm and Love First Grade

    1. I love that your Valentine's Day gift was shelves! Someone knows the way to your heart! AND….I'm so excited to hear that my monthly labels are making an appearance on your blog! Too sweet, friend!

      :) Ash
      The Rolly Chair

  2. Oh my gosh! My cabinet does this every year! I reorganize it every summer and still can't find the magic touch. I think because it's so deep. I have a couple ideas that I'm going to try! Your YAG forms look good. Just a suggestion, but we make daily schedule for math, science, and social studies. Reading, ELA, & Writing tend to lend itself easily for a topic per week. However, our other subjects tend to be a different topic a day. Not sure if others are like this but it might be something you want to add to you forms.
    A Tall Drink of Water

    1. Rachel-deep cabinets are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! I love that stuff can actually fit in them, but the stuff in the way back seems to always be forgotten. Good luck! Thanks for your input on the forms :D The series narrows down from year, to month, to week, to day. It helps to hear that 6 seems to be the common number of subjects that get planned (whether in a weekly or daily style). As I continue working on the instructions/guidebook, I'm going to add your scenario as an example of how to mix and match the forms to meet the needs of each user's planning needs. Thanks for sharing!

      :) Ash
      The Rolly Chair