Monday, May 21, 2012

Staying Organized with Clipboards

When I first started teaching Grades 1 and 2, students had a coil-bound agenda that was used as a home-school communication tool. Every day, my students copied a message off the whiteboard, took their agenda home, and their parents initialed it and returned it to school. There was a reading log in the back and a plastic pocket in the front for sending notes and money. Then my teaching assignment changed, and the agendas didn't work so well anymore!

The agendas had already been ordered by the time I found out that I was teaching kindergarten, so I was stuck with them for a year. At ages 4 and 5, my students were incapable of copying off a whiteboard to print a message. This meant that if I wanted a message to go home, I needed to photocopy it or print it myself in each agenda! I soon decided that next year I would find a better option.

After talking to other kindergarten teachers, I decided to try using clipboards. I purchased two-sided clipboards (that open like a book) with a plastic pocket on one side and a clipboard on the other. The plastic pocket has been useful for sending notes and money back and forth, and the actual clipboard holds the weekly sheet. I printed each student's name on the front of their clipboard, then began experimenting with weekly clipboard sheets. I finally settled on a winning format, and I have been using them for three years now.

Created in Microsoft Publisher, there is a title at the top of the sheet reading "Mrs. Caldwell's Kindergarten Classroom, The Week of ________". There is an individual box for each school day with the date and a spot to check off after school transportation (walk, bike, bus, pick up by ______) and the child's attendance. Special activities for the day are listed in the box. My contact information is included on every sheet, and sometimes I do a sidebar listing coming events, units of study, useful websites, and skills to practice at home. I decorate the clipboard sheets with seasonal clipart or photographs of the students. On the left side of the clipboard, above the plastic pocket, is where I tape our alpha bag chart (see previous post). Check out this sample. My students only attend kindergarten on full alternate days, so this sample shows a Tuesday/Thursday week.
When students arrive at school, they hand in their clipboards. It goes in a special basket on the counter, and there are additional baskets for home reading bags and library books. I check clipboards first thing in the morning, jotting down important items on sticky notes to remember for later. Clipboards have proven to be an indispensable tool for communicating with parents and staying organized, and parents love them too!

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