As teachers, we put so much thought and intention into our classrooms. It is our home away from home for us and our students. An organized and well thought out classroom shows your students that you care about them and that you take pride in your job. It also makes your school year a whole lot easier! Today on the blog, I am sharing 16 Ways to Organize Your Science Classroom.
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#1: Lab Station Baskets
If you teach multiple preps, I highly recommend having baskets (with handles) at each of your lab stations. These are great if you have multiple labs planned in a day and have to quickly set-up/take-down materials between classes. Placing numbers on the baskets allows students to be assigned lab stations, which is great for labs or station-rotation activities.
#2: Clean-Up Kits
Labs get messy! I have found that having these clean-up kits placed at each lab sink makes it convenient for students to clean up after a lab. As you can see from the picture, I re-purpose my coffee canisters but you could also use shower caddies as well. I store hand soap, a scrub brush, dish detergent, cleaning spray, and a sponge in my container and place them at the sink of each lab station.
#3: Graded Papers Folders
At the beginning of each school year, I provide students with a colored folder. Throughout the year, students place graded papers and benchmark data in this folder. The folders are kept in the back of my classroom and serve as documentation of student grades. A few years ago, our school’s digital gradebook deleted an entire week of grades! I was so thankful that I had these folders of students graded papers. (Note: I reuse these folders from year to year. In fact, I have had these folders for 16 years now!)
#4: Parking Lot Board
It never fails…. students will turn in work without their name. I use the parking lot board to post papers without names. If a student checks their grading platform and notices that they have a zero, they know to check the parking lot board. Usually, they submitted a paper without their name and it’s hanging on the parking lot board. They simply remove the paper, write their name on it, and take it over to the “make-up/late work” station (see next).
#5: Late/Make-Up Work
I use this 10-pocket hanging file folder as a way for students to turn in late assignments or make-up work. Each folder is labeled by class period and the students know that they are to place late and make-up work in the appropriate folder. To make it easier on myself, my students know that I only grade late/make-up assignments once a week (Fridays are my grading days). This prevents them from turning in an assignment and asking me 1000 times, “Mrs. Niblett, have you graded my test yet?”
#6: Tardy Box
If students come to class late, they MUST have a note from a teacher or a tardy from the attendance office. I have these two containers mounted on the side of my podium and students know to place their tardies/late notes in these containers. At the end of the day, I remove the notes/tardies and update my teacher-attendance. This procedure keeps students from placing tardies on my desk and helps me accurately record my attendance.
#7: Grab-n-Go Lab Kits
This organization hack has been such a time-saver for me over the years. I purchased a bulk set of plastic shoe bins at the beginning of the school year. As I did labs that year, I would create lab kits and label them so that I would have them ready-to-grab for the next school year. It was a bit of extra work that first year, but has been such a lifesaver since! I have been able to create lab kits for my Biology labs, Physical Science labs, and Forensics labs.
#8: Graded Papers Cart
I had a teacher in high school that kept mountains of graded papers on her desk. In fact, we never saw her face because she was always buried under piles of papers. When I became a teacher, I swore that I would never be like that. I invested in this 10-drawer organizer cart. I keep each class period’s papers to be graded and papers to be handed back in each drawer. Since I teach 5 classes a day, the 10-drawer organizer is perfect for housing student papers.
Want the template? Click HERE to download these editable tray labels.
#9: Turn-In Tray and Absent Work
I purchased this 12 drawer, mesh organizer last year and decided to use it for two purposes. For the drawers on the left, students place paper assignments here. Each drawer is labeled by class period. For the drawers on the right, students know to come here to find papers that I handed out during their absence. I write absent students’ names on handouts/notes/assignments and place them in the drawers (labeled by class period). Students know that they are to check the drawer after returning from an absence to get paperwork that they need.
#10: Emergency Sub Binder
If it hasn’t happened already, it will. You will be faced with an emergency absence with little to no time to prepare. I highly recommend having an emergency plan in place so that you are prepared for an unexpected absence. Check out my last post, “Creating an Emergency Sub Binder for Your Classroom” and get my FREE emergency sub binder template.
#11: Unit Notebooks
I quit filing papers YEARS ago! It always seemed like a waste of time, so I began printing my unit notebooks and keeping them in the back of my classroom. During the summer, I purchased these 3-ring binders from Amazon and printed my Biology, Physical Science, and Forensics units for the entire year. It is so nice having all of my units ready-to-go and saves me TONS of time!
#12: Student Station
I created a little space in my classroom called the “student station.” At this station, students can find the “turn-in” trays, pencils, a pencil sharpener, stapler, hole punch, tape, and a comment box (students can make comments and offer suggestions). Students really appreciate having a space that has supplies that they can use throughout the year.
#13: Teacher Planner
Whether you use a digital planner or a paper planner, having a plan for your week is essential to your sanity! Teachers simply cannot “fly by the seat of their pants.” We MUST have a plan. I love this planner! It allows me to record my plan for each course that I teach and has some cute little sticker add-ons that I just adore. This is one item in my classroom that I can’t live without.
#14: Assigning Lab Groups
I assign random lab groups every grading period (four times per year). I keep a jar of popsicle sticks that are numbered (1-7). At the beginning of the new grading period, I have students draw popsicle sticks to reveal their lab group. Each numbered stick corresponds to a lab station that is numbered (on the baskets discussed in #1).
#15: Weekly Printables
I make copies every Friday. Before leaving school for the weekend, I organize my weekly printables by placing them in these labeled trays. It makes those “Sunday Scaries” a little less scary knowing that my copies are ready to go come Monday.
#16: Clean Lab Supplies Bins
On lab days, my last class period is always responsible for helping me wash, dry, and put away the lab equipment. It’s a huge timesaver to have a procedure in place for putting away lab supplies. Students know to place clean, dry equipment and supplies in the “Clean Lab Supplies” basket at the back of my lab area. The handles on these baskets make it super easy for me to tote the supplies to my prep room to put up the equipment/supplies.
Well…there you have it… 16 Ways to Organize Your Science Classroom! If you are on a quest to become more organized, I hope that you found this post helpful in providing some ideas and inspiration.
Until next time!