Back to School Routines with Foldables

September 5, 2017

For those of us who love the classroom, the transition back to school is a glorious time! So many new faces to get to know, so many exciting things to learn! The smell of new crayons and freshly sharpened pencils hangs in the air the first week or two, signaling the communication of thoughts ready to share.

On the other hand, we have to establish a sense of routine in young lives that may have been free to do what they wanted during the summer. Establishing routines is one of the challenges of teaching, yet a routine can become a good friend, offering stability during chaos or simply a sense of knowing something when we're not sure what to do next.

For those of you new to Foldables, establishing routines will help you incorporate these 3-D interactive strategies into your lessons on a regular basis. You don't need a routine for every single one of the following, but these are some areas other teachers have found benefit in determining a routine:

  • transitions between activities--these might be good times to incorporate a quick clean-up of work areas or allow some movement in the classroom;
  • distributing/collecting supplies/student work --whether you use a classroom helper or helpers, or an entry/exit pick-up/drop-off location, creating a routine will minimize the amount of time wasted on these important tasks;
  • cutting out templates or quarter sheets of paper for interactive notebooks--this is the purpose of Dinah's publishing center: we create multiple copies of templates we know we will use as well as half-sheets and quarter-sheets of notebook and copy paper, store them where they are easily accessible and we don't spend valuable instructional time finding paper and cutting it out. Cutting things out for the publishing center might be a great task for some students when they have finished their other work and are waiting for the bell to ring or just need a little change of pace between activities;
  • what to do with an unfinished template or something that is not yet ready to glue into a notebook--we like pockets for storing ongoing work, and we often have several throughout our interactive notebook;
  • handling the ever-unsharpened pencil--Dinah creates a spot where students can leave a dull pencil and pick up a sharpened one, so the class is not distracted by the pencil sharpener; another option is to create a helper role and assign a specific time when the helper sharpens pencils;
  • similarly, if a student wants to leave their seat to throw away any scrap of paper, it can quickly become a distraction--consider whether it makes sense to specify what tasks go into clean-up time or position small trash containers around the room for easier access;
  • if interactive notebooks are allowed to leave the classroom, what happens when a student forgets to bring it back? There isn't a single right answer, but consider what will consistently be a viable approach in your classroom.

Dinah generated an entire book (Classroom Organization--It Can be Done!) based on the realization that it was usually the little things that made the day go astray. Follow her example and determine which little things threaten your peace of mind--these are the basis of your classroom routines. It doesn't work to just pull someone else's routines into your classroom; we're not all bothered by the same things. 

Welcome to another school year--may it be full of learning and laughter!