I hope I still have you with me on this ELA journey! Today, we are going to talk about how to organize your ELA materials. We’re going to focus on classroom organization in terms of your ELA block. You are going to have curriculum and standards, lesson plans, small group notes with materials, fluency records, centers, assessments, read alouds, leveled readers, and MORE! [A few of the links in this blog post are linked to affiliate links on Amazon.]
Don’t forget, if you want to use a workbook study guide to help follow along with these notes, download that here!
How to Organize Your ELA Material Starts with Gathering Your State Standards
It is essential to start planning with your state standards. Before your year has begun, pick or print the standards that are required by your state. If you are using CCSS, go to the website and print the standards for each domain.
Having the standards on hand will help you be more intentional in your planning and preparation for the year. You will know what materials you need to gather and which resources to print which makes it easier to learn how to organize your ELA material.
Resource Organization: Option 1
You might be the type of teacher who likes to plan and prep materials at the beginning of the year. If that’s the case, grab an All-Year Curriculum that covers every standard that you need to teach. Or, you may be the type of teacher who likes to gather materials as you go. Either way, using binders is a simple and effective way to store your materials.
If you like to store your materials by standard, like in the first photo, you can use a small binder for each ELA Standard! You can see that one binder contains the materials for collective nouns, one for irregular plurals, and so on. OR maybe you’d like to store your materials by domain, like in the second photo. You can use one large binder for each of the six domains!
The binders in the second picture have free binder covers to organize all of your ELA resources if you own my ELA units! Here is a link to my FREE binder covers if you like to keep your ELA materials stored by domain! Learning how to organize your ELA material has never been easier.
Resource Organization: Option 2
Binders can be expensive, and some classrooms don’t have the bookshelf storage necessary for them! If binders aren’t the best option for you, you can also store your materials in file folders.
I love the file folder option because they can be stored easily, don’t take up as much space, and are reasonably inexpensive. Go ahead and buy enough file folders for every standard. Print labels or write the standards on the tab before you even start your year. As you collect and prep materials throughout the year, stick an original copy into that file folder. This way, you have all the items on that skill in one place and how to organize your ELA material will be ingrained for next year.
Week by Week Resources
When beginning a new unit, I collect all of the materials used throughout the unit. Gather your read alouds, print and paper clip your assessments, lessons, activities, passages, etc. and store them all in an easily accessible large bucket. When placing your materials, put them in the order that you would use them so that you can grab-and-go!
*Tip 1 Keep an extra Ziploc bag or a cup of paper clips in the bucket because you will likely set that paper clip down somewhere in the room and when you go to gather your materials and re-clip/restore them, you will be searching for that paperclip!
*Tip 2 Keep an “absent” folder in or near that bucket as well. When you distribute materials and a student is absent, put the extra copies into an absent folder for when the student returns. Then, you’re not running to the copier to make more.
Create a Lesson Plan Template
Before your school year starts, you’ll want to figure out how you will be lesson planning. The requirements for lesson plans will vary by school or district. If your school/district has a lesson plan format or digital template that you need to follow, download and save those to a folder on your computer. You may not have a required template, so you can find your favorite lesson planner or digital template and start planning!
If you don’t want to start from square one, each of my ELA Units comes with lesson plans with a similar structure (like the picture above). The lesson plans are print-and-go ready! They include the CCSS Standard, an I can statement, a clear and direct description of the lesson, and images or a list of each of the materials.
Organize Student Materials
You can use a bucket for your kiddos’ materials as well. Students can grab the bucket that contains all of their group materials: printed activities, passages or leveled readers, glue sticks if they’re doing a sort and paste activity, highlighters for close reading, etc. and they are good to go!
For centers and activities that have many components, it is beneficial to have Ziplocs on hand! Any of the pieces that need to be together would go in the same Ziploc and students will be able to keep them together and have a quick clean up. *Is it just me or have students not quite mastered the paper clip?
Organizing Paperwork Without the Messy Stacks
I have talked about storing student group materials in colored folders before. So, in that group bucket that contains all of the materials they need for work stations, put the group’s color folder in to organize the paper materials!
I suggest keeping instructions in the left pocket and passages or activities in the right pocket. This allows students to open up the folder and quickly see what they are required to do. You won’t have interruptions to your small group, and your students will be able to complete activities to your expectations.
Discuss Visual Options for Students
Another great way to cut down on interruptions is a Visual Schedule! These could be done using a digital PowerPoint or Bulletin Board that displays where and when your groups should gather.
If you have a projector or SmartBoard, an easy way to create a visual schedule is with PowerPoint. Open up PowerPoint, create a new slide, insert a “table” and type in each of your rounds and groups. Format the columns to match the color of each group so that students can quickly look up and see where they should be!
If you don’t have a projector or if you like to utilize your SmartBoard during one of your group activities, you can still create this visual schedule as a bulletin board! Decide how many rounds and groups you will have. If you have five groups, print five of each of your round activity pictures and create a table of your own!
After you’ve established your group colors, you will want to organize your teacher time/small group materials to match! You can use color folders to do it. But, my favorite method to teach how to organize your ELA material is the drawer method. Label each of your drawers with a group color and store all materials for each group in the drawer. When it’s a small group/teacher time, you can pull the entire drawer out and set it on your table. The materials are easy to access and easy to put away. At the end of group time, gather the materials and put them back in the drawer!
Keep Up With Weekly Differentiation
Previously, we talked about tracking your small group lessons, but I wanted to revisit it since we’ve been talking a lot about small group time.
This graphic organizer is a simple way to track the activities you’re doing in a small group each day! It is as simple as keeping a stack of sticky notes at your small group table. Record your notes, stick it to the side, or even in your small group drawer! At the end of small group rotations or the end of the week, you can stick them back into your teacher binder! I hope you’ve enjoyed my ideas on how to organize your ELA material. It’s vital to a stress-free school year.
This download is also similar to a FREE download you’ll get in my 30-page download. If you sign up for my email list, you’ll get 30 pages of planning freebies! Then, you’ll get three follow-up emails with more strong ELA content and freebies. Download with the box below to get the 30 planning pages and join in on my email list. Thanks for reading how to organize your ELA material!