Assessments and Worksheets and Handouts, Oh, My! The Organization Game


As music teachers collect more and more professional material (including Common Core standards for integration, handouts, schedules, IEPs, forms, resources…..) our rooms can look like a pack rat’s idea of heaven. I’d like to share a few ideas, hard copy and cyber, to feel a little less stressed.

  • Glean and clean. Before starting, start trashing old papers in the recycle bin.Haven’t used that worksheet in years? Part with it. Have a resource book you haven’t looked at in a while and “someday” never comes? Pass it on to a new teacher. Rule of thumb: if it hasn’t been used in three years,it probably never will. 
  • Take advantage of Target Dollar bins Dollar tree containers. When I was substituting while on my sabbatical to work on my PhD, I saw wonderful organization ideas. Those three drawer carts with wheels are awesome for instruments, class recorders, and other items. I found dollar plastic containers in the Target bin I play to use for my teacher resources (labeling them “Orff resources”, “recorder music”, “movement”, “folk songs”….you get the idea). This means, that when you are looking for a resource, it is much easier to find in the cabinet.
  • A little expensive, but so nice looking….I’m in love with Thirty-One. I swear I’m not a consultant, but if it’s an option, the company has wonderful folding file boxes, tote bags, and other items. Every once in a while, Thirty-One has a clearance sale with some great stuff. It wasn’t cheap, but I recently purchased this item from them that I plan to use for accidental bars and mallets:

  • Three ring binders are wonderful. I’ve also asked parents to donate sheet protectors. I’ve used the binders for Music K-8 word sheets, worksheet handouts, and lesson plans that I’ve printed.
  • With children’s literature, use the basket idea from Dollar Tree and use the little circle stickers for garage sale pricing and color code your books by topic (such as “rhyming”, “song stories”, “good for instrumentation”, “vocal exploration”, etc.)
  • For classroom management, another great idea I’ve seen: I blogged about a hanging chart that looks like a guitar  where I used clothespins for the kids to clip indicating their behavior level. Recently, I saw a few classroom teachers who would come to specials with a similar tool, only this was a cookie sheet with circle magnets with the students’ names on them. Colored tape indicated the behavior level the kids were at. I’ve also seen this traveling “behavior scale” with a yardstick covered in colored tape with clothespins, but these clothespins would often get knocked off. The cookie sheet idea, however, worked very well! This could be a simple behavior chart if you can find inexpensive, small cookie sheets, one for each class, that you can keep in a larger plastic bin or “milk” crate.

What about cyber-storage?

  • Dropbox is a lifesaver. I love it. One year (when I was beginning my PhD program), I mistakenly left my flash drive by my school computer. I saw it before one class; after the class, it was gone. I looked all OVER for it, to no avail. It was my first semester or so, but I still had class notes on it from the webcam classes and the beginnings of my first paper for my comprehensive exams. Luckily, my adviser still had the copy of the paper I had emailed to her, and I was able to get notes from classmates. I cringe to think of what would have happened had I been working on my dissertation! That very day, I signed up for Dropbox and I don’t regret it. I keep my school files, PhD files, handouts from my various presentations, Teachers Pay Teachers files,and many other items. The beauty of it is…you can download the software to any computer you work on, so I had it installed on my school computer and my laptop. On each computer, you can select which files you want to have downloaded to your hard drive, or you can access your files directly through the web browser.You can also share files.

ONE WARNING ABOUT FILE SHARING: If you share your link and share your files, ask those who downloaded your files to either change the file name or copy their files to another place. If they delete the file while it is in their DropBox folder, it will delete from everyone else’s until you turn off the sharing feature in Dropbox for them.

I’m still learning about organization, but when I make myself stick to these ideas, my life is a lot easier!

Stay tuned for Facebook Frenzy! 

It is a great way to get some free products from various music teachers who are part of Teachers Pay Teachers. You can use my Facebook page as a launching point. If you like my page, you can download this free product:

Then, click on the link that takes you to the next music teacher Facebook page, like that page for another freebie, and so on. There are about 26 teachers participating!

Next time, I will discuss the writing and composition ideas I had mentioned in my last blog.

“I’m linking up with Lindsay Jervis from Pursuit of Joyfulness“.

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I am an elementary music teacher and adjunct professor from Missouri and have completed my Ph.D. in music education through the University of Kansas.

I am an elementary music teacher and adjunct professor from Missouri and have just completed my Ph.D. in music education through the University of Kansas.


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