Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Few Classroom Supply Tips

I know that sometimes you to get the middle of the school year and you start running out of classroom supplies...and supply money! Here are a few tips that I picked up along the way to make the most of my supplies.

1. I'm sure that if you teach middle school or high school you are very familiar with the phrase "Can I borrow a pencil?". In order to keep from having to buy pencils all the time I had a technique that I used that worked very well. I brought in a plastic cup from home to keep pencils in, and at the end of each day I would walk around the room and collect all of the pencils and pens that students had dropped or forgotten on the floor and I put them in the cup. When students needed to borrow a pencil, they knew to check the "cup" first before asking me or a friend if they could borrow one.

2. You are probably also familiar with students saying "I don't have any paper." To solve this problem, I always kept a wire or plastic tray in the classroom with a sign above it that said "One side blank paper". If students didn't have any paper, I didn't mind if they used this recycled paper. It was also great if we were doing an informal writing activity, quick formative assessment, or something short that required a half-sheet of paper. I would tell students to all go grab a piece of the one side blank paper for their table.

3.  Are the stapler, or scissors on your desk always disappearing? Or, do you travel on a cart, and students are always taking supplies off your cart that you can't find later? To solve this problem, I took yarn and I tied these supply items to my cart or to a desk! It can also be used for tape, or a paper hole-punch. Yes, students can just grab some scissors, and cut the yarn, but it rarely happened, and it would require more effort on their part.

4. Elementary teachers often send classroom supply "wish lists" home with their students or email them to parents, but I find that for some reason secondary teachers never do this. Do it! I was so surprised at how many supplies students brought in when I asked parents for donations. You can do this at the beginning of the school year if you send a letter to all parents, before the holidays, or whenever you happen to run out. I would also often request Kleenex and hand sanitizer from parents during flu season. Many parents get really excited about any opportunity to help out. I know that some teachers offer extra credit to student who bring in supplies to the class. You can do this if you are comfortable with it, but I never did this because I knew that some families could not afford to do this, and I didn't think it was fair for the students with more money to be able to "pay" to improve their grades.

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