Monday, April 9, 2018

Organizing an ILE (Part 2)

Since I've started working in an open plan environment (or whatever else you'd like to call it) one of the biggest challenges has been organizing the stationery. Some learners could see 3 or 4 adults in a given day and their books could potentially be in all different places. Last year we would have books thrown on the floor and the children would pick up theirs if they needed them. This was not a great system (nor was it one that we came up with - it was the children problem solving given the situation they were in.

Last year we trialled a lot of things. In our environment, though we had 90+ children, we had four smaller groups and often we organized things this way. Since we were a Year 3/4 split Habitat, I had my learners split their books and pencil cases up by Year and Gender. This system worked a lot better than the previously mentioned one, as children only had between 5 and 8 books to sort through to find theirs. There were still bottlenecks at certain times.

We tried giving each child a cubby hole. The problem was that were were (almost comically) short for one per child. So we tried to compromise and put two children per cubby. The messy outcome of that was that we were beginning to get a bit frustrated.

Then, in one meeting we had an idea. We ordered 100 of those magazine containers that so many of us use for reading books or what have you. We could fit two in each cubby and that would give enough space for all the children. Their mess would not stop their cubby buddy. So we tried that and it worked well enough. There were LESS bottlenecks (they weren't completely gone) and most problems were solved.

This year our school took notice of the success we had and we ordered one for every child. We have four houses (or Whanau) at Ormiston so we got four colours and matched them up as best as we could (orange and red are close, right?) and called them ketes. Wonderful. We put them in four corners of our Habitat (since our temporary space has NO cubbies) by Whanau, and we've asked the children to carry them with them. We've been very clear about what goes into them (just their school stuff - it's not a locker or a desk).

It has been amazing and we've had very few issues with lost books (and even then, it's usually the adults who have them) or bottlenecks. And if the children bring them, they have everything they could possibly need, so there is no need to run the 100m across the space to get their eraser or lucky pen. It's definitely an idea worth looking into if you've had similar problems.

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