How to Avoid Messy Desks

Students need to be taught how to be organized.  The first step is to show them how to store materials in their desks.  This simple system will help keep them organized all year!

Organization does not happen by itself.  Your students can be organized, but you have to teach them. 

I can’t tell you how many times my lessons and class activities have been delayed or interrupted because a student can’t find the paper, scissors, glue stick,  or other supply he or she needs.  

Organization may take a little extra time , but it will save so much time and so many headaches later.

The first organization I teach my students is how everything should be stored in their desks.  I’m a real stickler and require that everyone follow the same desk arrangement.

I have a specific way student binders, softbound workbooks, spiral notebooks, hardbound books, free-reading books, and a pencil box are placed in the desk.

One key is to keep the softbound workbooks and the hardbound books separate.  Those soft workbook covers will quickly be destroyed when heavier hardbound books are slid on top.

The binder has to go on the right because of the slant.  You want everything that's put on top to slide to the side of the desk and not to the middle of the desk.  On top of the binder, students put all of their soft bound workbooks and spiral notebooks. If they have a paperback-free reading book, it goes on this stack, too.

On the left side, students stack any hardbound books.  Their pencil box goes on top. 

Students need to be taught how to be organized.  The first step is to show them how to store materials in their desks.  This simple system will help keep them organized all year!

With this arrangement there is less of a chance that books will be damaged when they are taken out or put back into the desks.

-Give your students time, once a week, to empty, clean and reorganize their desks.  This will cut down on the papers and trash that gets shoved to the back of the desk throughout the week.

-Let students keep two pencils and an eraser in the small pencil tray in the desk opening.  All other supplies should be in the pencil box.

-Only keep the textbooks they use every day in their desks.  Store other textbooks on a shelf and work out a system for handing them out and collecting them for your lessons.

-If a box of crayons is too large to fit in the pencil box, it will probably fit between the two stacks of books.

-A book baggie to hold paperback books from your class library will help protect these smaller books. 

 Keeping small, paperback library books in a plastic bag helps protect them as they go from desk to backpack.

-Give students enough transition time to put things away where they belong. When you're in a rush it's hard to stay organized. 

-Praise students who have neat and organized desks.  You may want to give random notes of encouragement when you see a well-organized desk.  My room has a Gnome Patrol.  The patrol is usually me, but sometimes I assign students to be the Gnome Patrol for the week.  At random times, without an announcement, the Gnome Patrol will leave a card in an organized desk.  Students love finding this little card in their desk.  

Kids love it when the Gnome Patrol finds their desk neat and organized!  It's a fun incentive for kids to keep their desks organized.
The Gnome Patrol cards are included in my SPARKLE Positive  Behavior Toolbox.  Click here to check it out.

What tips do you have for keeping student desks organized?


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Homework, Yay or Nay?

Homework has been a tradition in our schools for decades.  But, is it a tradition that needs to be retired?  At the very least it's time to evaluate your homework policies.  

Research shows homework is not all bad, nor is it all good.  Like everything else there are pros and cons.   

-Homework gives students time to practice the academic skills they need to master. 
-It gives parents a way to be involved in their child’s education.
-Having a homework routine helps students learn time management. 
-Homework can encourage self-discipline and independent problem-solving skills.

-Homework can lead to a negative attitude toward school.
-Homework cuts down on the time kids have to be active and play.
-Homework is often busy work the student really doesn’t need.
-Not all homes are created equal.  Completing school assignments at home can be a burden for some kids.

What most studies have found is that homework can be beneficial, but teachers need to make sure to minimize the negative effects of homework. 

Homework can be an valuable part of a child's education.  The cons don't necessarily outweigh the pros.  But, before you implement a new homework program these are some of the questions you need to ask myself. (Not listed in any particular order.)

1.  Will this assignment help my students grow academically?
2.  Is the assignment at the student's independent learning level?
3.   How long will it take the average student in my class to complete the homework assignment?
4.  How can the assignment be modified to meet the varied needs of my students?
5.  How will I manage the homework system I put in place? 

One way to think outside of the "homework box" is to give kids more choices.  Too often one assignment is not the best for all students.  Giving kids a choice may also avoid the negative attitudes toward mandatory homework. 

Choice boards are used with literacy studies, learning centers and for research projects.  Why not use a choice board for homework? 

I've put together a homework choice board that can be edited to meet the needs of your students.  This is an editable PowerPoint file.  When you click on this link it will open in your browser.  It is not editable in your browser!  You'll need to download and save it first.  Then open it in PowerPoint.  You may also need to click on Enable Editing in PowerPoint.   

Give your kids a choice for their homework.  These editable choice boards are the perfect way to differentiate your homework assignments.

I hope you find these editable choice boards helpful in setting your homework system this year.  I'd love to hear how you use them.  Share your pictures on Instagram and tag me (crockettsclassroom) so I can see, too. 


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