I love back to school season because it makes me reorganize everything not only in my classroom, but I also tackle areas of my house that I feel need more TLC. Today I cleaned my closet, threw out junk from the basement and organized my jewelry box. All of this was done to speed up my morning routine so I look polished and professional when I leave the house in the morning.
I store all of my literature circle sets that I have purchased in my basement. I used to store them at school, but since they do not get used every day all year I found it hard to justify the amount of space they took up. I have used a few different organizational systems since I started teaching - each system is an evolution of the previous system.
System 1: Stacking all the books on a shelf in piles by title
This system works well if you have lots of shelf space to spare and have room in your classroom. The benefits of this method is that you always have access to the books and do not have to bring them to/from school. It is also free.
System 2: Store books spine side up in a large bin
I love these large bins which are actually brand new cat litter pans from my local dollar store. They allow me to see the book titles, and freely move them because they are in bins with handles. Storing items in bins makes them so much easier to work with because you don't have to constantly just move a handful of something. These bins cost me $2.50 each at the dollar store, and can be used for many other purposes should you choose to store your books in another way.
The downside to this system is that your books are not covered so in case of flood, dust, etc your expensive books are not protected.
System 3: Cloth Zipper Boxes from Ikea
I got this idea from a fellow teacher who loves that these boxes zip shut to keep dust, mold, bugs out of the books. They also have a clear pocket at the front so you can write a label of what is in box to help with ease of access. They also stack quite easily, which is a great bonus because teachers cannot devote their entire storage to books!
I switched from this system because middle school novels are quite heavy and felt that I was overloading the boxes. I also wanted something that allowed me to see inside at a faster glance.
This is my favourite system of all that I have tried. I keep my book boxes in my basement so this system keeps them dry in case of water, the bugs can't get in and no more dusty books. I love that I can see in the boxes from all sides because they are clear, and the closure by snap lid ensures all the books stay in the boxes during transport. Nothing is more frustrating then to have your box full of supplies empty in your car, the school parking lot or right in front of your classroom door.
The plastic boxes are strong enough to withhold being stacked on top of each other, making for ease of storage. The books will not get bent if they are in these tough boxes. It is worth the extra money to buy a brand name plastic boxes at your local store. I got mine at Walmart and Target, but have seen them at Canadian Tire and hardware stores.