Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Classroom Organization and Storage

I recently had a fellow MD teacher email me to ask about how I organized all of my materials. This is such a tricky part of the special ed classroom because we often have lots of stuff!! Each student has different needs which typically leads to different materials which leads to me making (and storing) a whole bunch of stuff. Plus, once you spend a lot of time making materials you hate to throw them away and end up hanging on to them just in case you get a kiddo with similar needs.

Taskboxes: A big part of teaching kids with autism is using taskboxes. Students with autism seem to thrive with taskboxes since there is a clear beginning and end. They are a great, reusable way to assess skills or provide extra practice.

In my room I use one of those white wire dividers to hold all of my taskboxes and some file folders that I use for students at the independent (or TEACCH) work center.

When we aren't getting materials off of the shelf I cover it with a simple, twin sheet from Walmart to decrease the visual stimuli in my classroom (if only I could get rid of that awful carpet!)

On the shelf, things are organized by type of task (matching, sorting, reading, writing, math, etc). I use different colored file folders for these different skills as well. To make for each clean-up each folder and taskbox has a colored foil star on the bottom that indicates its type. Therefore all of the right tasks are but together. This also makes for easy task set-up because I can just list what activities I want pulled for them (i.e. Student Name: 1 Math box, 1 Sorting box, 1 Reading file folder) and then my aides can easily get them set up.

Some of my kids don't use a lot of taskboxes but they still have independent work. For this, I use a huge pocket chart with individualized pockets for each student. This is also located near the independent work area and easily accessible.

Other materials for tracking specific IEP goals are located in clear plastic bins on an IEP bin shelf. The gray bin on the top of the shelf is where we keep all of the kids progress monitoring binders. It is all centrally located so that any of the staff members in the room can easily locate the needed materials when it is time for them to work with a student.

We use thematic units in my room so we have a lot of materials specific to one theme. Some themes have more materials than others. For the bigger collections, I have book boxes stored over my cubbies with all of the materials. For other themes I place a file in my file cabinet/closet. Some activities are stored on the other side of this cabinet in a hanging closet organizer (which also houses our movies).

The biggest life saver though are two huge metal shelves that I had purchased at my old school and my principal graciously let me take to my new building. I have TONS of stuff on these shelves. I store binders and resources I don't use often, most of my math manipulatives and materials, board games, extra school supplies, and multisensory math and reading materials.

I purchased some pale blue curtains which I hung on tension rods to cover these shelves because although they are as organized as I could get them, they are still a lot visually.

Each week after planning for groups, I grab any needed materials off the shelves and put them in my group bins on my amazing IKEA shelf with the removable bins. When it is time for a particular group I just have to grab my bin and go.

For the kids' toys, I have sectioned off a part of the room just for play time. Everything has a picture label and a special spot on the shelves that has a matching picture label. This helps with clean up. Also, I never let my kids have a free for all with the toys! They always choose one thing to play with on our choice board. I have learned from experience that this is the only way to keep that little area from looking like a tornado hit it every afternoon!

I don't think my storage is perfect, but I have a small space so I work with what I have. The key I think is to be as organized as possible and have a designated spot for everything. This makes it easier to locate needed materials quickly. If only I could get my desk under control!!! Ahhhhh!!

1 comment:

The Puzzling World of Autism said...

I love the giant file folder holder you use for independent work! If I only I had somewhere to hang one!! Maybe next year I can do this when my one student who needs a lot of his own space moves up to Middle School...