Planning the Small Things... Organizing Chaos

01 April 2015 / 6 comments

Hey everyone! I am Cassie from Funky in Fourth. I am so excited to be a part of this collaborative blog! There are so many wonderful bloggers that are a part of this blog. WAHOO!!! 
I am all about planning and keeping organized in my classroom. When it comes to my classroom decor and organization, I try to keep it simple and clean. Sometimes, too much going on in a classroom adds to the chaos that you see in your students. This post isn't going to be about classroom organization or decor... this post is going to be about planning the small moments in your classroom to help control the chaos. Here are three simple tips that might help your day run a bit smoother in the classroom.
Have a plan for what students are going to do when they finish their work. Now I totally understand that this is a "duh" for most teachers. I don't mean "read to self" or "continue independent work". I mean have a plan for how those students are going to continue to reach higher level thinking.

In my classroom, I have my students grouped by ability for math and reading. My groups are extremely flexible and students might be in one group one unit and another the next. Each unit, I put together a box of early finisher activities for that specific group of students. Task cards, work pages, group challenges, etc. go in the box. My students know that when they finish their work they go to their group box for either reading or math to grab an activity to start working on. All materials (unfinished work) are stored in their group's bin, so they always know where their stuff is.

I use many task cards from Teaching With a Mountain View. She has tons of task cards for lots of different standards. I also have a variety of activities from FlapJack Educational Resources. She has created tons of task cards and activities that are self-checking with QR codes. I love that students can self-check their work with our iPods.
Plan for your absence. There is not a teacher in the world that hasn't had to plan for a sub at one point or another. At the beginning of the year, I chose two students (one boy and one girl) to be my substitute helpers. Yes, I had 22 eager students who wanted to help. It was hard to choose just two students! I spent a few mornings before school showing these students just about everything they would need to know in case there was a sub. Everything from where my sub tub and binder were, to how to log into the computer and use the projector.

I also made some special arrangements with one of the other fourth grade teachers. If I have an unplanned absence, I simply e-mail her my lesson plans (if they aren't already on my desk like normal) and any pages that my students might need for the day. I make my copies a few weeks in advance- so usually there aren't any attachments for the other teacher to print. It is nice to have that as an option in case I ever need to.

Raise your hand if you have ever been called out of your classroom for a meeting in the middle of the day. This might be a meeting with a parent, special ed teacher or even the administration. For me, these meetings happen usually unannounced. In my bottom drawer I have a variety of activity pages that can be pulled out in a snap. I have math pages, spelling practice, writing prompts... the list goes on. I copy these all at the beginning of the year. They are ready to go anytime I need them. This helps to control any "chaos" that might happen in my absence because there is a planned activity.
The last tip I have for you, have a classroom signal for your students to respond to. There are a variety of signals that you can use. Audio/physical signals have the most immediate effect. In my classroom, I use the whole-brain teaching signal of "class" "yes". We have practiced the signal many times. During group work, I use a three clap signal to tell my students it is time to clean up. I don't have to say anything at all. They hear the three claps and immediately start cleaning up with whisper voices. We can clean up from math centers in 12 seconds flat!

There are a variety of verbal signals that you can use. Some rhyme ones are: macaroni cheese-everybody freeze, hocus pocus- everybody focus, ready to rock- ready to roll, all set- you bet, and hands on top- that means stop (students put their hands up on their head). All of these signals would easily catch your students attention and draw them into your instruction without you having to say much at all or try to talk over all of your students while they are working.

If you do not already have a signal in place in your classroom, it is important to "train" your students on your expectations when you use it. If you do not want them to have anything in their hands when they respond, this will need to be practiced. If you want them to turn and look at you, this will need to be practiced. At first, some of your students will struggle! I have found that it is best to repeat the signal as many times as needed until you have 100% perfection before moving on. If that means I say "classity class" five times in a row with my students responding over and over... so be it! By about November my students have mastered the signal and it can easily be used to control any chaos that might be happening in my classroom. You can also use physical signals like a bell or wind chimes to have the same result!

I hope that some of these tips help you to control the chaos in your classroom. I know how the end of the year can get pretty chaotic! Hang in there.... summer is just around the corner!!

If you haven't checked out and entered in our fabulous giveaway, make sure you do that below! It is the last day of the giveaway... check out what you could win. I mean seriously... I have one of those Classroom Friendly Sharpeners... to die for. What teacher doesn't love scented markers!!! :) Enter the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great tips to keep in mind for helping the day go smoother!

  2. You have so many great ideas! I love having copies ready for when you have to step out of the room. I don't get called to meetings or anything like that in the middle of class, but I can definitely be interrupted by a crying student, a question from another teacher or a multitude of things. Usually they can continue what they are working on, but not always. I just had a situation where a plan like this would have helped! You had great points about hand signals and the importance of modeling and practicing them. We use some hand signals (bathroom and water are the main ones) but I love the 3 taps to clean up. I'm going to use that one! Thanks for sharing all these great tips!
    Teacher Treasure Hunter

    1. You are welcome! You never know what is going to happen throughout the day, so having a few quick go-to activities printed and ready is definitely handy!

      Funky in Fourth

  3. Hi! Cassie Dahl,
    I hope that you are fine :)
    I read this post and i have to say this post is well written by you!
    Now i come to the point, I think we have to plan and organize each and everything what we are going to do.
    Nice Post and Keep Sharing

    Cheap Paper Writer Online

  4. Hey Cassie! Thank you so much for sharing this detailed and helpful list of top-notch advcie for teachers. From the above list, I always follow planning beforehand tip and use some to additional resources to stay focused. Thanks again. Keep helping !!


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top