Organization 101 - The Rotary Classroom

Great tips from 2 Peas and a Dog on how to keep a rotary middle school classroom and middle school students organized.

As a middle school teacher trying to keep three classes of 30-35 students per class organized can be a challenge. 

Below are some of my top tips for helping everyone stay organized.

1. Have students create a Table of Contents in the first page of their notebook, binder or duo-tang.  I photocopy a template that they can fill in with the page number, lesson/hand out title and date.

Great tips from 2 Peas and a Dog on how to keep a rotary classroom organized.
Grade 8 Personal Safety Table of Contents
2. Have a class table of contents on chart paper posted visibly in the room. Ask a pair of students who finish early or need some leadership experience to create this. Have them create as many columns as rotary classes you teach. As you teach each lesson check off or write the date in class column. This is student created and may include some of their ideas. (Good Relationships was the title - the students decided to clarified boyfriend/girlfriend)

3. Need to sort students into pairs quickly? Cut a deck of cards in half, hand out 1 half as they walk into the classroom or have the half already waiting on their desk. Explain that yes they could potentially switch cards, and think you won't notice, but that you have magical powers that allow you to change any grouping you think it is not idea. This stops the card trading immediately as they know my goal is to have them work with as many different people as possible, not just their immediate friendship group. 


Great tips from 2 Peas and a Dog on how to keep a rotary classroom organized.

4. Post assignment sheets in the middle of anchor charts, therefore students will likely look/read the assignment sheets plus the helping anchor charts around them. In the photo, I have my October Monthly Reading Assignment posted in a high traffic area, with supporting posters surround it. 

5. Assign each student a number according to their position on the class list. Tell them this number the first day of school. Tell your students to write this number down every time anything is handed in. Now you can sort the pile very quickly to see who handed assignments in and what is missing. This number system also makes lining up for fire drill very easy. 


Great tips from 2 Peas and a Dog on how to keep a rotary classroom organized.

6. Using electrical tape I created a 7 box daily organizer on my board for my homeroom. Now they are organized for the day, and know what to expect from each period. Usually a student takes it upon themselves to update my date and the subjects for each period. The 7th box is usually for reminders i.e. extra math help 1st break. 

What are some of your time saving tips for teaching on rotary?

Great tips from 2 Peas and a Dog on how to keep a rotary middle school classroom and middle school students organized.


9 comments

  1. Tracking down assignments can be a pain! I make students hand in their work at the end of the class work period no matter what. No homework for them = happy students. Focused work and no missing assignments = happy teacher. The time limit is good for their own time management and exam practise.

    I tell students if they don't like their mark because of whatever excuse they have (e.g. I didn't finish, couldn't concentrate) they can try to bump it up for homework and resubmit after I have assigned a "tentative" mark. Students who submit nothing (e.g. a page full of doodles) receive their mark accordingly and if they don't like it have an opportunity to change it just like the rest.

    I only do this for anything I personally mark. Students who are absent have their work placed in my absent folder which I check everyday and I will have them complete that work the next class in lieu of the lesson.

    This systems works for me, because nothing bothers me more than chasing after students for assignments. I want accurate assessment.

    The only students who struggle with it are the perfectionists...I will often let them take an assignment home for some collateral (e.g. mp3 player). If they forget bring the assignment the next class they get graded accordingly (e.g. same as the student who handed in doodles) and will not receive the privilege a second time.

    Thanks for the entry!

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  2. Giving your students a number is such an efficient way to ensure everyone is handing things in. As a supply teacher it makes it much easier to track down who has turned in their work even when you're unfamiliar with their names. Accountability with a supply teacher is at times hard to achieve but can go a long way in setting the tone of "yes your regular teacher is away but it is not a free day."

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  3. Great tips! I've used magazine photos cut up like two puzzle pieces to find a new partner - works great!

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  4. I have used word winks where you decipher the word or phrase on the table and that is your seat. I hand you a card with the word or phrase and you decipher it and sit down at that seat. They help each other if it is complicated and really enjoy doing this.

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  5. How do you assign numbers to different groups? My students change classes. Do you use an ongoing numbering or #o you begin at 1 for each class?

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    1. Each class gets their own numbers from 1-35. I assign them alphabetical by last name. So when they hand in an assignment it is clearly marked. e.g. Jenna Smith Class 8-3 #17.

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  6. I like the numbering system, but I have students who constantly forget to write their names on their papers--no matter how many reminders I give them.

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